The need for succession planning in public power has been talked about for nearly a decade but unfortunately the majority of organizations have not yet implemented a robust workforce and succession planning program. Most organizations see the need for and urgency to implement succession planning but may be unclear where to start or believe they have too few resources to make succession planning a success in their organization. Baker Tilly recently published a whitepaper with the American Public Power Association (APPA) which not only dispels some of these myths related to succession planning but also provides a simple, low-cost methodology for implementation of a succession plan. Highlights from the whitepaper are included below.
While succession planning does not have to be expensive and overly complicated, there are some critical steps your organization can take to ensure its success. Some key aspects of a successful succession plan include:
- Leadership support – Obtaining buy-in from top leadership is essential to getting the whole organization onboard and excited about succession planning. Associating costs or lost revenue to vacant and under-filled positions due to retirement and other attrition can really drive home the importance of succession planning to top leaders.
- Early and frequent communication – Communicate early and frequently with the entire organization about the goals and importance of the succession planning program. Emphasize the key role everyone in the organization plays in succession planning and how it impacts them. Using a variety of communication methods (e.g. open forums, e-mail, posted information, etc.) is a great way to make sure you reach everyone.
- Supervisor and manager participation – Succession planning should not be viewed as just a HR Department project. Everyone in the organization plays a part in succession planning, especially managers and supervisors. Managers and supervisors are critical to identifying top succession candidates, coaching and improving employee performance, and communication succession planning goals. Ensuring managers and supervisors understand their unique role and holding them accountable to participate are essential components to success.
- It’s a continuous process, not a one-time project – Succession planning is most impactful when it is a repetitive, annual process. Organizations and their employees continuously change so the organization’s succession planning program should be a continuous loop of identifying critical positions, identifying succession candidates, developing succession candidates and evaluating the succession program.
As retirements loom and niche, skilled positions become harder to replace, all organizations should be asking, “How do we recruit and retain the most talented individuals while also maintaining institutional knowledge?” Implementing a succession planning program is the answer to this question. Not only does succession planning help an organization to retain top talent and institutional knowledge by providing defined career paths, education and mentoring opportunities, it also ensures the organization has a recruitment plan in place for positions that cannot be filled from with the organization.
For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly energy and utility specialists can help, contact our team.