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A Sobering Thought – Is Your Succession Planning Underway?

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How’s this for a sobering thought? According to Statistics Canada’s – Canadian Demographics At a Glance

– by the year 2030, deaths are expected to outnumber births in Canada. In addition, Statistics Canada projects that by 2021, one in four members of the labour force could be aged 55 or older.

This means that there won’t be as many young workers entering the workforce – plus the current workforce is going grey as we speak.  The result of these two merging factors is labour shortages in many professions Canada-wide.

Municipal positions are no different  – and in fact it may be even more difficult for municipalities to attract youth to these roles because youth do not really understand what municipalities do or what it means to work in a municipality. It’s therefore imperative that municipalities find ways to reach secondary and post-secondary students to educate them on the merits of a municipal career in order to attract them to becoming tomorrow’s leaders.

What is Succession Planning?

Well simply put, succession planning is getting the right people with the right skills in the right roles at the right time.

In the words of one of our professional members, “Succession planning and development should be like a well- run relay race. The transitions should be smooth.”[1]

Many municipalities are proactive and have succession plans in place, but there are still many others that do not give it much thought or consideration until key personnel leave and there’s a scramble to replace them. Sadly, the exodus of one key person often sets off a domino effect that just results in another municipality needing to hunt for a replacement.  Again, there’s a real need to bring youth and new candidates into the municipal stream.

For those who have not given it much thought yet, here are few things to think about as you start to develop your succession plan.

In broad terms, succession planning starts with a sound assessment process;

  1. Identify key areas and key positions you will be losing (number of pending retirements, which year, etc.) so you can identify future needs. Create an inventory of sorts.
  2. Take a look at the key competencies the incumbent has now and determine whether or not these are the same competencies you need in that position in the future.
  3. Create programs for pre-retirees and if they don’t already track their processes, have them start doing so.
  4. Assess the skills you have in-house and compare them to the skills you need in the future
  5. Determine if there are any interested employees in-house and assess their ability to fill any of the upcoming vacancies. Your performance management program will help with identifying if there are qualified in-house staff to fill positions.
  6. Match the skills and capabilities of your current employees to their career ambitions
  7. Identify any training needs and create customized development plans to develop talent.
  8. Evaluate whether or not you will need to move to an external hire and if so, set the wheels in motion to ensure that you can have the position filled by the expected vacancy date.
  9. Monitor and measure success.

Don’t forget that using early retirees from the municipal world and municipal consultants can also form part of your succession plan.  These experienced veterans can often get you past the hump until you can find permanent employees. They can also be utilized to mentor your new hires and they can pass the relay race baton of knowledge and experience on to tomorrow’s leaders.

The competition to replace retirees and fill vacant positions will no doubt be challenging over the next decade but by initiating a sound assessment process today you will be well on your way to having the right talent in the right positions by 2021!

by: Susan Shannon, muniJOBS.ca

[1] Prism Group International, Sophie Mathewson, President and Coaching Practice Leader

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