Connect The Dots

Many organizations–including parks and recreation agencies–will soon face a major shift in staffing due to the “Baby Boomer effect” and the “Generation X and Generation Y effect.”

The baby boomers have retirement in their sights, and will be leaving organizations in record numbers.

While it has been common for boomers and older-generation employees to stay in agencies long-term, the Generation X and Generation Y effect will make this a thing of the past. These employees are looking to build skills and move on to better jobs rather than work their way up through the same system.

These changes will have a major impact on immediate and long-term operations of agencies. The plan for the future for many organizations, not just parks and recreation, is succession planning.

Succession planning is a systematic process to identify and prepare high-performing employees to assume key positions within the organization. It is designed to ensure continued effective performance by building competencies needed to be successful.

Currently, succession planning is under-utilized by parks and recreation agencies, because many people rightfully assume it is time-consuming. Other reasons for not doing a succession plan include:

1. It lacks immediate results.

2. It is viewed as important but not urgent.

3. Managers feel their positions are threatened if others have similar skill sets.

4. Often, there becomes a mentality that employees are short-term.

While some of these may be legitimate concerns (i.e., succession planning can take anywhere from 12 to 36 months to complete), its focus is on developing leaders who are capable of filling multiple assignments. Succession plans ultimately improve organizations and increase long-term stability.

There are four steps involved in creating a succession plan:

1. Understanding development needs

2. Assessing job demands and performance

3. Building the talent pool

4. Facilitating development opportunities.

Each step is tailored to the agency, and the length of time needed to complete each will vary. This article does not offer a full description of the succession-planning process; however, it will provide the framework needed to get the ball rolling. Also, keep in mind that succession planning is for all levels of the organization–not just the CEO.

Understanding Development Needs

This is the information-gathering and learning step where the organization begins to change the way it views itself and its operations. This step focuses on competencies–skills, knowledge and characteristics needed to be successful.

Competencies have been developed in public parks and recreation at all levels of the organization, from the board level (the CEO in nonprofit recreation agencies) to the interns and new employees. These competencies include such skills as multi-tasking, communication, creativity and innovation. (A complete list is available from the authors). An agency must dedicate itself to becoming competency-driven in its processes, such as human-resource management.

Job descriptions, application screening, interview questions and evaluation tools should center on the competencies necessary for the job. This first step in the process requires the agency to look at competencies, focus on how they are implemented into the agency, and gain an understanding of the development needs of employees.

Assessing Job Demands And Performance

This is arguably the most time-consuming step in the entire process. It requires:

1. Determining whether the focus will be on all levels (i.e., supervisory, coordinating) or specific positions

2. Assessing the depth or bench strength of each level/position

3. Conducting a job analysis to identify roles, responsibilities and expectations of each position

4. Identifying competencies for each level/position.

To better understand the urgency of succession planning, a bench-strength analysis will show who is in a current position, who is ready for that position now, and who might be ready 1, 2 or 5 years in the future. It is often surprising how many gaps there are within the organization.

Building The Talent Pool

During this step, energy is focused on all levels of the organization and on finding the “high potentials” (HiPos). HiPos are people who have not hit a career plateau, are capable of advancing two or more levels in the profession, and exceed minimum job expectations. To assess the HiPos, it is suggested that the agency use a 360-degree evaluation process, where each person is evaluated by respective supervisor, peers and subordinates.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. External Mentorship
  2. 7 Secrets of Successful Succession Planning
  3. The “I Don’t Have Time To Succession Plan” Plan
  4. Thirsting For Knowledge
  5. Want To Become A Better Manager?
  • Columns
  • Departments