December 29, 2015

Succession Planning - What is it and how can it help your city?

Weekly HR News – Hiring Practices

Succession planning … What is it and how can it help your city?

I’ve been asked to present on succession planning at the KLC Conference, so after all the research and statistics that I have reviewed I want to give an overview of some of the main points of succession planning and how it can be beneficial to your city. 

First, succession planning can help cities prepare for the expected and the unexpected.  If you know that an employee will be retiring in the next one to five years, it is a good idea to start transferring some of their knowledge to others that work within the city.  And even if you are not expecting an employee to be leaving, it is a good idea to have this process in place for all of your key employment positions. 

So what are a city’s key positions?  They are the positions that if left vacant could present extreme hardship on the city.  For example, a city clerk, city manager, public works director or police chief could be considered a key position.  Once you have designated your key positions review the job description for the essential functions and necessary characteristics for that position.  Do you have current employees that if brought up to speed could take on those roles?  If so, put a plan in place that allows for the transfer of knowledge through training and mentoring.

Having a succession plan in place will not guarantee a successful candidate for the job, but it will put you on better ground while you go through the hiring process.  Also important to note, that if your city participates in civil service, the city cannot guarantee a position to any employee, as all potential hires would still have to go through the city’s hiring process.  Even if that is the case, cross-training employees is always a good idea.

In some instances there are also statutory requirements for succession planning.  Examples of this include emergency management, or the mayor’s absence in the mayor-council form of government and a mayor pro tem in the commission form of government.  Being aware of these requirements will help keep you in compliance with the law.

For questions on this or other personnel matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, Personnel Services Specialist, with the KLC Legal Department.