Bench Strength Considerations for Public Organizations

Public sector leaders need a wide range of competencies in order to guide organizations through a myriad of issues including shrinking budgets and increasing public expectations. Doing more with less has never been truer than it is today. An organization’s future depends on its ability to identify, retain, and prepare its next generation of leaders. This is particularly critical in the public sector, which is expecting a mass exodus of baby boomers in the coming years.

With this in mind, today’s leaders need to work diligently to train and develop new public sector leaders to ensure continued service to their constituents.

But how?

First of all, your organization’s talent pool must be identified and assessed. Employees who have the potential and are willing to move into mission-critical vacancies need to be trained and supported by management. Leadership development programs are a great way to provide these candidates with learning and networking opportunities. These programs are available through several professional organizations or universities. Leadership development academies can be developed internally as well. Special assignments in other departments will also allow your employees to gain new skill sets and managerial insights. This can be accomplished through inter-department or inter-agency work exchange programs.

Also, incorporating formal learning plans into existing annual performance evaluations incentivize candidates to gain additional knowledge that will help their careers as well as your organization.

A successful bench strength program will have many different positive outcomes for your pubic organization. However, these outcomes will only be realized if the organization adheres to the following elements for a successful program.

First of all, any workforce analysis and employee survey efforts need to generate hard data that is useful in addressing your organization’s needs. Selections of candidates need to be based on hard numbers and not create any bias toward any specific employees.

Second, the bench strength effort must not exclude any members of current senior management. All input must be given fair consideration so that all managers have a stake in the process. Also, individuals targeted for development must be given full support by the organization.

Finally, your organization’s leadership development program should be the subject of continuous improvement. Training programs must be modified and adjustment as the needs of your public entity changes.

Feedback, in the form of participant and facilitator survey as well as periodic review, will assist your organization in maintaining your bench strength for years to come.

Charles Lewing is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. A Louisiana native, he graduated from McNeese State University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance. He later earned his MBA in 2001. He relocated to Houston, Texas and worked in various finance and accounting roles for number of healthcare organizations. In 2016, he relocated to West Texas to pursue a career in public financial leadership. He currently serves as the Reeves County Auditor. Charles is very passionate about inclusive management, LEAN six sigma, and improving operational efficiency through leveraging technology. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time in the outdoors and reading spy novels. You can read his posts here.

Leave a Comment

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Amy DeWolf

Love this point, “Also, incorporating formal learning plans into existing annual performance evaluations incentivize candidates to gain additional knowledge that will help their careers as well as your organization.”

Its so important to set up your team and company up for success when thinking about professional development goals.