Succession planning is the process of systematically identifying, assessing, and developing employee talents to meet the future staffing needs of an organization.
Local governments should develop a succession plan to determine how key personnel will be replaced upon departure either unexpectedly or knowingly. A succession plan will act as a guiding document when identifying future staffing needs. All local governments, if they have not already, are encouraged to create a staffing succession plan.
Undertaking a succession plan can offer a number of benefits:
- It can provide a coordinated strategy for identifying key personnel who can be helped to maximize their potential by means of a well thought out career planning process.
- Succession Planning is helpful if an administrator leaves unexpectedly or has to take a temporary leave of absence; succession planning is not just for imminent retirements.
- Provides an opportunity for empowering current employees by offering a venue for them to develop the skills and qualifications they might need to allow them to move into senior administrative positions.
Assessing the need for a succession plan
- Are there potential candidates to fill the vacancy if one of your key personnel leaves because of retirement or take an employment opportunity elsewhere?
- Is there knowledgeable and/or qualified staff to fill in for management personnel while they are out of the office?
- Is senior management expected to take cell phones with them to conferences and meetings so that the office can maintain in constant contact?
- How are vacations handled? Is the municipal administrator required to phone the office from time to time to answer questions and solve issues while on vacation?
The answers to some of these questions might indicate that senior management should delegate more, but it could also mean that if something should happen to the municipal administrator, the organization could be in serious trouble with no one to fill the gap.
Benefits to the municipality of having a succession plan:
- Improved staff morale
- Improved staff effectiveness
- Minimized disruption in the face of change
- Enhanced knowledge transfer
- Enhanced ability to offer employees challenging and rewarding career opportunities
- Ensured source of potential replacements for key leadership positions
- Increased promotion of municipal government as a valued and vital career path
- Informed staff as to their value to the municipality and their encouraged career and personal development