Eliminating Gaps in Agency Leadership – Part V: Measuring Success

In this five-part series, we talked about how you can help identify and assess leadership gaps within your organization and through introspection. We also covered how Federal Agencies can best avoid mission-critical leadership gaps through effective succession planning. In each discussion, we highlighted the importance of setting specific goals and emphasized that maintaining flexibility is crucial to achieving those goals. Now, in this final installment, we will discuss ways gap-closing success can be measured and potentially improved.

Gap-Closing Strategies

To successfully close a leadership gap, you must identify where you are today, where you need to be in the future, and whenever possible, specific milestones along the way.
Here are a few practical examples:

  • Your agency may identify and prepare leadership candidates to transition into positions that will be vacated by retiring employees who have anticipated retirement dates within the next six to nine months to facilitate the transfer of knowledge.
  • To establish back-up coverage for ten critical roles, your organization could prepare 10-15 highly-skilled employees through cross-training.
  • To complete an agency-wide transition by the end of the fiscal year in compliance with CAP Goal 1: Modernize IT to Increase Productivity and Security, all agency personnel may be required to participate in training on a new, cloud-based email system.

Old Assumptions and Emerging Needs

What happens when new needs emerge after your leadership gap-closing plan has been put into action? Not to worry, the progress you have made will still be beneficial, if not immediately, at some point in the future. You may need to renew or expand your assessments before revising your plan, but in the end, your results will be well worth the effort.
Examples of different situations include:

  • After executing a plan to provide specialized skill training to rising leaders in your workforce, the decision is made that outside contractors will conduct this work. Your workforce may still need to be trained, but not to the same level as previously planned.
  • In alignment with the President’s Management Agenda, you devise and execute a plan to begin sharing your data on the cloud. After the project has begun, new cybersecurity guidelines are released, requiring you to rework your plan.
  • There is a candidate for the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program (SESCDP) whom you had hoped to place in an SES position that will be vacated due to retirement. You are informed that the candidate has left public service, and you will now need to identify a new candidate.

The Best Laid Plans…

You may have correctly assessed the situation and formulated a solid plan, but after the execution began, it became apparent that your plan would not close the gap. It happens. Remember that managing your workforce is a process – one that has no end. Your next steps may be to reassess the individuals involved in your plan with expanded criteria and provide more specific guidelines to achieve the outcome you desire.
Here are some examples of what this might look like:

  • Technical training is provided for a group of leaders within your group in advance of the agency-wide implementation of new technology. You later discover that the training did not provide sufficient guidance for your group to use this technology effectively in their roles. As a result, everyone will need to be retrained.
  • Chris Smith and Cameron Jones are swapping jobs to help each of them deepen their understanding of the agency programs and give them each a chance to showcase their talents. While Smith’s performance is outstanding, Jones is unable to grasp the requirements of the role and makes several errors that impact the program. This swap will have to be cut short.

Improving Outcomes

A seemingly perfect plan may fail. A promising candidate may struggle. What is most important is to correctly assess the current status and clearly describe the future need. When the gap between the two has been measured, the plan to close it can be designed, executed, and reworked as needed. Things can and do go wrong; it is important to build milestones into your plans so that you can identify and work to overcome challenges early on.

Management Concepts has been providing training and workforce development services to help government agencies like yours remain mission-focused for more than 45 years. Look to our professional consultants to help you assess, plan, implement, and evaluate your workforce and avoid leadership gaps within your organization.

Thanks to Cindi Johnson, MBA, for contributing to this blog.

Written by:
Natalie Komitsky
Human Capital & Human Resources



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