Developing the Next Generation

In work culture there has been a perception of a generation gap. Boomers, Gen-X and Millennials have completely different types of leadership and communicate completely differently. That being said – how do these new generations get prepared for leadership? COVID-19 will cause widespread changes to the workforce and that widespread change may push “boomer culture” to retirement. Time is of the essence to close the leadership gap.

Leadership development is becoming increasingly important for public sector leaders. A new generation is promoting to a senior leadership role and many times, this can cause a clash in cultures. Values do not always translate from one generation to the next and as leaders, we certainly understand diverse perspectives can lead to innovation and organizational performance. However, we want to look at our established culture and ask ourselves if our current organizational culture will carry us forward? How do you build a strong culture that spans across generational differences in values?

Succession planning instills a strong culture and communicates values of individual growth and development. It is also a great pathway to implement necessary culture shifts. As leaders, this is our chance to create an environment where there is space for vulnerability, awareness and growth.

Getting Started

The first aspect of succession planning is to understand the need for a succession plan and communicate that need in a way that elicits understanding and urgency to implement a plan. Creating a leadership pipeline takes an investment of time and resources which often impact budgets. If the problem is not communicated clearly to key players within your organization, it will be increasingly difficult to design a program that produces results.

A great way to show the need for succession planning is by using infographics. You can see in the graphic below that it is quite obvious how large the retirement risk is for this particular organization. This graphic was generated for an actual client is accurate data.

Ask yourself – do you see a problem with this organization? Does it make you want to do something? If this was your organization, would you be worried about your organizations’ future to execute on mission?

Succession Planning Methodology

CPS HR Consulting employs a 5-step succession planning methodology.

This method not only identifies key positions but also the competencies for those position. In today’s world where our work environment is completely different than in the past, working from home and in the office is beginning to happen more fluidly. New competencies around technology, coaching, motivation and influence through digital media may be more important than ever. It is important to learn and understand what those competencies are and project how they will change.

Identify Key Positions

The first step in succession planning is to identify the most critical positions in which an agency will focus its efforts during the succession planning period. During this step, it is important to obtain initial leadership support and alignment, create a Succession Planning Oversight Committee (SPOC), identify the critical few positions required to achieve the long-term strategy (or mission) of your agency and define organizational and job-specific competencies.

Identify Participants

Build an ideal persona of what a particular successor should look like. How should they act? What skills should they have? What should they be amazing at on day one and what can they learn on the job? What makes the current executive (incumbent) successful? This clear persona should be documented in a concisely and used as a cheat sheet to evaluate fit for both internal and external candidates.

When evaluating internal candidates, leverage the 9-box tool. The 9-box tool helps identify and classify prospects in you talent pipeline.

The goal is to move employees on a diagonal to higher levels of potential and performance. In this diagram, if you were to map out my entire workforce, you would likely focus efforts on the employees that had medium to high potential and performance.

Preparing Participants

Each participant needs to understand the expectations of your succession program. The goal is to hit the ground running on day 1 – once the program begins.

The incoming or continuing Succession Planning Program participants should understand:

  • The purpose and goals of the program
  • The demands the program may have of them
  • What is expected of them during the course of the program, including pre-work

Developing Participants

Once candidates are identified for a succession plan – the hard part begins. The development plan should include:

  • mentorship, coaching
  • formal education
  • stretch assignments
  • developmental assignments
  • on the job training
  • virtual learning

A formalized development program identifies where competency gaps are for a candidate and helps that candidate close those gaps. The training is not meant to guarantee the particular candidate promotion to an executive position – but help them compete when the time comes.

Considering how much the millennial generation values professional growth and development – 87 percent say it’s important in a job – the way you train them for succession has to look different than it did 10 or 20 years ago. If you’re not using modern methods, these high-potential leaders are going to recognize pretty quickly that their future would be brighter with a different company.1

Monitor Progress and Recognize Achievement

A succession plan should monitor individual and class progress with regular reporting. Your organization should have a scorecard to evaluate individual participants on how they are completing their succession plan. In addition, the instructors should provide feedback on the class as a whole and participation in the program. The class should provide feedback on the instruction. At the end of the succession planning program – creating a formal award or recognition event will help to reinforce the importance of the program and recruit future participants.

The resilience and future of your organization is directly correlated to your leadership pipeline. If you are looking to implement a succession plan or improve on one that has not been revised in a while – we can help. CPS HR Consulting has helped thousands of public sector organizations with employee growth and development. We offer free consultations to provide succession planning guidance. Contact us to learn more.


In work culture there has been a perception of a generation gap. Boomers, Gen-X and Millennials have completely different types of leadership styles and communicate completely differently. How do younger generations prepare themselves for leadership roles?
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About CPS HR Consulting

CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.