Robert Hill, ICMA-CM
Acknowledging that hiring from within is very desirable, our organization has adopted a fairly traditional format for staffing succession. We provide financial support for pursuing higher education and advanced training through the city to encourage employees to expand their careers.
We have generally been successful with this approach as shown by the number of supervisors and mid-level managers who are long-tenured city employees.
The biggest challenge lies in developing upper-level management staff. One reason for this is the reluctance of employees to leave the relative “safety” of the unions to enter into the realm of the nonrepresented staff.
It is my hope that by emphasizing the intangible benefits of reaching the professional potential of each employee we can overcome this hurdle.
Jeffrey Earlywine, ICMA-CM
Boone County, Kentucky
This issue is becoming increasingly important in our organization as its workforce matures and retirement activity trends upward. To begin with, awareness and proactive efforts go a long way.
Specifically, we are working to decentralize duties in key supervisory positions that have historically operated as sole source providers. Cross-training, “understudies,” and a renewed emphasis on team activities are options being considered.
At the department-head level, we make an effort to stop and pause with each vacancy to strategically review the sphere of responsibilities for the position.
We have found that a willingness to expand and divest duties and potentially restructure a position can help smooth the transition, take advantage of underused in-house talent, and minimize the adverse impacts of lost institutional knowledge and capacity.
Stephanie Mason, ICMA-CM
Doylestown Township, Pennsylvania
Doylestown Township (17,680 population) is addressing succession planning in our organization in two ways. First, we are working with next-generation employees to make sure they have the proper training and experience to be able to assume a department-head position when the opportunity presents itself.
The second way is with certain key department-head positions. We hire new employees several months prior to a staff retirement. This allows the new hire to spend time acclimating to the position prior to the departure of that department head. This strategy ensures that institutional knowledge will be passed along to the new hire.
We also work with local universities to acquire interns, mentor them, and expose them to all aspects of our organization. The interns gain experience working with volunteer boards and commissions, customer service, budgeting, and special projects. Given the right circumstances, we’ve promoted interns to full-time positions.
Doylestown Township recognizes that as baby boomer employees begin to retire it needs to be prepared to have well-trained and experienced staff ready to work for it.
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