Eliminating Gaps in Agency Leadership – Part IV: Succession Planning
In the first three parts of this series, we discussed how to identify and assess leadership gaps, address leadership gaps, and close leadership gaps within your organization. Next, we will examine how effective succession planning is essential to prevent mission-critical leadership gaps. Envision your future needs, pinpoint the competencies required to meet them, then identify and prepare your candidates in advance.
With nearly half of the Federal workforce being 50 years old or older, there is a massive wave of retirement that is just beginning. It is imperative that Federal Government agency leaders become masters of succession planning. Let’s look at what’s involved:
It’s All About the Mission
Every strategy and action plan for training, development, and recruitment should be mission-driven. Begin by ensuring that your overall workforce development plan – and within it, your succession plan – reflect the qualities needed to support your agency’s mission.
Evaluate Succession Risk
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) emphasizes the need to evaluate individual leadership candidates according to required competencies, bench strength, and recruitment challenges.
Review Your Talent Pool
Use one-on-one incumbent interviews and available assessment tools to evaluate the current readiness of identified internal and external candidates.
Devise A Plan
Develop a strategy and action plan that facilitates knowledge transfer from tenured employees to close gaps between candidate capabilities and projected future needs through recruitment, training, and development.
Implement Your Plan
As you put your plan into action, you may find it helpful to establish a mentorship program. A tenured employee who mentors a rising leader will provide motivation, challenge, and context while transferring a wealth of knowledge.
Any plan that built on predictions of future circumstances is likely to require adjustments. Be sure that your plan allows for pivots along the way. Your process should remain intact, but some of the specific details are likely to be reworked over time.
As you set your plan in motion, and candidates are identified, assessed, trained and mentored, be sure to measure the success of your program. Share the details of your achievements and challenges across your organization to increase the benefit of your experience.
Are You Ready?
With the wave of employees who are becoming eligible for retirement each month, Federal agencies need to act now. Here are a few resources that can help you prepare:
- Best Practices for Succession Planning in Federal Government STEMM Positions published by The IBM Center for The Business of Government
- Guidance on Establishing an Annual Leadership Talent Management and Succession Planning Process published by OPM
- How to Implement Succession Planning a course outline posted by The Social Security Administration
- Workforce and Succession Planning on the OPM website
Management Concepts has been serving the needs of government for more than 45 years. As workforce needs change, we provide education and services that help organizations address those needs. In addition to an accredited one-day Succession Planning Workshop, our professional consultants are here to help organizations like yours assess, plan, implement and evaluate your workforce development needs.
Natalie Komitsky is the Content Marketing Manager at Management Concepts. For more than ten years, she has been creating compelling content that tells stories, communicates ideas, and captivates readers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Nonfiction Writing and Editing from George Mason University.