The best-run local governments use succession planning and other strategies to prepare for the future as they manage current challenges and opportunities. As Baby Boomers retire and Millennials bring a different set of expectations to the workplace, local government leaders know they have to adapt and find ways to recruit and retain talented employees as well as train them for promotion and greater responsibility.

In the Fort Lauderdale Public Works Department, that adaptation became a priority when they found that more than a quarter of their employees were eligible for retirement in three years. Even though they weren’t all expected to retire within that timeframe, the idea that up to 28 percent of their workforce could leave so soon prompted them to look at how to prepare the organization to withstand such disruptions.

Strategies for sustainability
Department leaders knew they couldn’t just hire from other agencies, and comprehensive advertising wasn’t enough to find the skills they needed in their workforce. As they looked closely at the issues, it was clear that they had to take action over the long haul to retain talented people in the department through training and promotion, in addition to attracting new employees from outside. They hired Management Partners to develop a succession planning project. It began as a pilot and is now being used throughout the the entire department.

Succession planning is vital to the health of an organization, and it’s not something leaders can achieve and be successful working on in their spare time. It needs to be a priority. Managers can’t look at it as a project; it needs to be the way they do business and incorporate all these elements into recruitment and training. These are all long-term strategies. Department officials need to be patient but also direct about maintaining the effort and keeping these at the forefront as they are running the organization.