Workforce planning is focused on having the right people, throughout the organization, in the right place at the right time. Succession planning is a subset of workforce planning, but is focused specifically on having the right leadership in the right place at the right time.
In the corporate world, individuals are often hand picked and groomed for specific positions that the company knows will become vacant in the near future. That strategy is often unworkable in the public sector where merit system rules and regulations require fair and open competition for promotions. Beyond that, in many instances such “grooming” focuses on the technical/professional parts of the higher-level job with little effort being made to develop the competencies that are so critical to successful performance.
A major benefit of establishing the Competency Model for supervisor and management level jobs in an agency is that the competencies necessary for success in those jobs are openly communicated; anyone aspiring to higher-level jobs can see where they need to focus their own development. Typically, however, that isn’t enough. The intensity of the development required is beyond what most employees are able to undertake without additional organizational support.
The process we recommend to develop a succession planning program is based on an acceleration pool model, where high-potential employees are identified and provided with enhanced developmental opportunities in order to prepare them for future career opportunities. The model has seven steps:
- Obtain leadership support.
- Assemble a Succession Planning Team
- Identify the agency’s leadership gaps.
- Assess the readiness of current staff to assume those leadership positions.
- Identify high-potential employees.
- Diagnose their strengths and developmental needs.
- Select and implement strategies for accelerating the development of these employees.