Succession Planning as a Change Management Strategy
Succession planning is becoming a valuable strategy for organizations to undertake when looking to minimize the impact of changes on its workforce. Although still not widely utilized across Federal agencies, it is becoming recognized as an important talent management and change management strategy for retaining leaders at all levels and thus reducing disruptions caused by continual turnover. Here are two reasons this rings true:
Management Concepts recently partnered with the Human Capital Media Research & Advisory Group (the research division of Human Capital Media) the publisher of Workforce, Talent Management, and Chief Learning Officer magazines to launch “The Changing Government Workplace Survey.” By exclusively surveying government employees, we were able to gain deep insight on how the public sector practices successful change management at the Federal, state and local levels. When asked what strategies or actions their organizations are undertaking to minimize the impact of change in their workplace, more than 41% of the respondents said that one of their key strategies is to formalize and implement a succession planning process.
A second reason why succession planning is gaining more traction in the public sector is evidenced by an Executive Order (EO) on Strengthening the Senior Executive Service (SES) issued by the White House on December 15, 2015. The Executive Order is focused on strengthening the recruitment, hiring, and development of the Federal government’s senior executives. A key component of this EO speaks to establishing an annual talent management and succession planning process to assess the development needs of all SES members and to inform readiness decisions with regard to hiring, career development, executive reassignments, and rotations. Therefore, the objective of the succession planning effort is to ensure every organization has the highest quality talent ready to fill planned and unplanned SES vacancies, thus reducing the stress caused by leadership positions being vacant for prolonged periods of time or by filling the position with someone who is not totally qualified and thus unsuccessful in the position.
Every organization will have job vacancies due to attrition or people retiring from their jobs. We all can remember a time we suffered some stress and anxiety while waiting to learn who the new leader(s) of our organization would be and what impact it would have on us and our colleagues. We know the management of this type of change is always smoother and less disruptive when the leadership replacements are quickly identified, in place, and effectively performing their role. This happens when organizations institute succession planning (or even better, succession management) on a regular basis; it helps to keep the organization healthy by ensuring the right leadership is in place at the right time. It is encouraging to see that public sector organizations are recognizing this and using succession planning as an important talent management and change management strategy.