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Succession planning and management guide

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Examples of departmental practices

Knowledge transfer

In 1999, results from Transport Canada's workforce analysis revealed that 69 per cent of the regulatory and inspection population was eligible to retire within a decade. An analysis of internal and external trends revealed that the labour supply of technically trained workers would be insufficient to meet the demand. As a result, a succession planning and corporate knowledge pilot project was initiated to identify critical subject matter experts (SMEs) and develop strategies to guard against the loss of corporate knowledge. For more information, go to the Community of Federal Regulators website

Statistics Canada has developed an alumni program that assists managers in need of expertise and knowledge by allowing them to obtain the services of retired employees. As part of the program, they have established an inventory of retired employees who are interested in sharing their expertise. The program facilitates the transfer of knowledge, allows retirees to mentor younger employees, and increases the organization's flexibility in handling busy periods.

A number of departments and agencies have established scientist emeritus programs in which retirees with an established reputation or a long-standing record of superior performance are allowed to continue their research. This gives former employees the opportunity to transfer their knowledge. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada, National Research Council Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have established such programs.

Integration of competencies with HR planning and succession planning

Effective succession planning programs reinforce competencies in various HR areas such as learning and development, recruitment, selection and performance management, ensuring better integration, and simplicity. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, National Research Council Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Public Service Commission of Canada, the Communications Security Establishment, the House of Commons, and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada are examples of federal organizations that have developed competency profiles for certain occupational groups and have integrated them into various HR areas.

More information is available here: Interdepartmental Committee on Competency-Based Management

Online tools to self-assess capabilities and competencies

The Canadian Transportation Agency, Industry Canada, the Immigration and Refugee Board, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Service Canada, and National Research Council Canada are examples of departments and agencies that have developed online tools so that employees can self-assess against their competency profile. Some of these online tools also provide information on learning and development strategies to strengthen competencies.

Skills inventory

Health Canada, Quebec Region, has launched a pilot project to better understand their employees' expertise. They have established a database inventory containing information on such things as position, job title, employment status, linguistic profile, career objectives, education, professional experience, years of experience, and skill set. Participation in the database is voluntary and information is provided by the employees. The database allows the organization to leverage the knowledge and skills of its employees by quickly identifying employees with specialized expertise for special and/or urgent projects.

Succession strategies

In 2002, as part of their Action Plan to address succession issues, Human Resources Development Canada initiated a series of focussed “succession conversations between the Deputy Minister's Office and each Management Board member to identify development needs, retirement plans, possible replacements, and readiness of potential candidates, as well as corporate issues that could not be addressed in the branch or region. In preparation for the conversations, templates were provided to participants to facilitate discussions, and external consultants were available for coaching and preparation for the meeting. The process and actions were guided by a set of principles (e.g. The goal is to identify pools of leadership talent, not heirs to specific positions). Other aspects of the Action Plan included updating their Leadership Competency Profile; aligning recruitment and selection with succession issues; focussed learning and development for potential leaders; accountability measures such as rewarding excellence in leadership development; and tackling systemic barriers.

At the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Senior Executive Committee meets quarterly to discuss the organization's succession needs. Meetings take place in a succession room, in which current and potential positions are graphically displayed for the organization's more than 600 senior employees. In preparation for these meetings, representatives from Executive Officer Development and Resourcing travel across the country to meet deputy heads and senior staff to discuss regional pressures, the requirements of key positions, potential vulnerabilities, and development strategies. The information is brought back to headquarters and is graphically displayed in the succession room, with each region represented on a different wall. The RCMP develops talent at multiple organizational levels, offering a range of development programs that identify and develop employees with potential for more senior roles. These programs include the Full Potential Program, the Officer Candidate Development Program, the Senior Executive Development Program, and the Executive Development in Policing Program. A competency-specific approach to leadership development has been incorporated into development programs at the senior management and executive levels.

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