Identifying Critical Roles to the organisation

We're working with the business managers to identify roles that are critical to the business, mainly to identify succession/business continuity/retention plans for these roles. Whilst in theory, this is required for all roles, with over 100,000 employees globally we're planning to start with a handful of positions/roles first. 

Whilst I can agree that Critical roles' are identified as roles that are crucial to the achievement of organisational outcomes. These roles would be identified as having a combination of the below: 

  • Roles that have an impact on the designing of business strategy 
  • Roles that have an impact on stakeholders and customers 
  • Roles that have an impact on revenue 
  • Roles that are required due to licensing requirements (many in operational areas) 
  • Role that are difficult to replace due to skills or availability (externally or internally) 

A vacancy in a critical role will have a significant tangible impact on the ability of the organisation to deliver outputs, achieve milestones, or meet budget requirements. 

My challenge is trying to make this assessment objective if possible through a criteria/matrix/tool thats easy enough to use. 

Has anyone put something together previously that can help as a starting point?


  • Hi Saijad

    No prior experience with any exercise like this, but wondering what’s wrong with using overall levels of remuneration as at least a rough and ready guide / broad indicator. Computation of other measures such as based on the criteria you list seems to me too complicated and time consuming and not necessarily even much if any more ‘accurate’
  • I think you are right I trying to do this. Often truly critical roles are hidden in the organisation and the best people to identify them are line managers with some help and support. Some organisations do just that - ask first and then validate. Can be a useful approach. For example the person who authorised payroll maybe more critical than a very senior finance manager.

    Sometimes it’s useful to think if the consequences of soneone not being here for1,3, 6 months. Or fir that person going to a competitor.

  • I would agree with Keith - seniority or remuneration level is not necessarily a good barometer.

    Criticality, for me, is calculating the impact if that person (normally person rather than role) was, all of a sudden, not there. It is about identifying single points of failure and is one of the key challenges I face in our business that has grown from 600 to 6000 headcount in the last dozen or so years, with pretty much the same SMT in place.

    Single roles are by definition the likeliest to lead to single points of failure.
  • Nice project Sajjad

    I would like to suggest that you add a couple more dimensions into your analysis for it to become useful. A person leaving a critical role may or may not have a "critical" effect. In this way a poor performer leaving a critical role may be good news. In many  "critical" roles, if finding/appointing a successor is not a problem, then the overall degree of "criticallity" will drop. Similarly, it's worth evaluating whether there is a genuine and likely risk of a "critical" person leaving the company - I've had many discussions over the years where a manager has insisted that "if Joe left, we would be in trouble" - I've usually asked if he thinks Joe is likely to leave and if the answer is "yes" what ould his reason for leaving be; many discussions have been cut short because after discussion, the liklihood of departure is felt as being unlikely.

    In summary, four axes to the question

    • Is the role critical?
    • Is the jobholder likely to leave and why?
    • Would a departure create a medium-term problem (as opposed to an inconvenience)?
    • Can we source a replacement easily and quickly?

    Over the years I have also asked like mangers to complete this matrix of questions in advance of undertaking salary reviews at times when little or no money was available. This helped them to decide where their priorities lay.

  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    15 Jun, 2021 12:42

    Good question, Sajjad. Good to have you here on the Community.