Change of Administration: Leadership Transitional Year
With the presidential election and change of administration happening in less than a year, there will be a huge focus on political and career leadership transitions within the Federal agencies. Obviously positions designated for political appointees will be most impacted by the political changes. However, the skilled and committed civil service leaders will likely remain in place. So before these transitions occur, this is the perfect time to implement a disciplined approach to leadership succession management.
I’ve been involved in succession management activities with senior leaders at various agencies and saw firsthand how invaluable it was to have them engaged in this process for their personal insights and broad perspectives. Their energy and focus on creating a sustainable pipeline of current and future leaders equipped to perform agency missions and achieve their strategic goals was viewed as a major responsibility of their role. A sustainable pipeline ensures the right leaders are ready, when and where they are needed, now and in the future.
Succession management is an important element of the agency’s overall talent management strategy. It focuses on identifying high-potential leaders, developing them, determining their readiness for a specific role, and supporting their move in a thoughtful and comprehensive way. Succession management isn’t a rigorous assignment, but because the efforts of the process aren’t often revealed until a key leader leaves, many organizations don’t take the time to create and implement a succession process until it becomes a critical requirement.
The succession management process includes a fairly linear sequence of events (but some steps in the process can be customized to the unique needs of each organization):
- Identify mission critical roles that exist within the organization
- Agree on what requirements are necessary for success – both professional and technical competencies and past experiences; these are often referred to as “success profiles”
- Identify where the talent lies within the organization – Individuals need to be assessed for their potential to lead in roles with a broader scope and level of complexity.
- Specify what development gaps exist with the talent identified and actions needed to close those gaps. This can include new assignments/projects, coaching and mentoring, and targeted formalized learning opportunities.
The President’s Management Council (PMC) and the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council launched a PMC Interagency Rotation Program in 2011 to bolster cross-agency exposure for high potential GS 13-15s. Through six-month developmental assignments, this program enables emerging Federal leaders to expand their management skills, broaden their organizational experience, and foster networks they can leverage in the future. Additionally, the recently launched White House Leadership Development Program is another innovative effort that strives to create and sustain a strong cadre of Federal leaders.
There are many benefits to be gained by implementing a succession management initiative. It ensures there is a strong leadership pipeline to fill mission critical roles so the agency can continue to effectively focus on its strategic objectives despite any political upheaval. It also helps with retention and motivation for employees identified as high potentials. Additionally, with focused development plans, they will be more prepared and more successful in their new roles. Lastly, evaluating the workforce in preparation for succession management gives the organization a great perspective regarding the current and future talent needs within the organization.
What do you think we’ll see as our transitional year continues? How would a party shift affect programs recently put into place?