209230 Role-Based Succession Planning for Public Health

Monday, November 9, 2009: 8:30 AM

Henry Gordon Taylor, MD, MPH , Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
PURPOSE: Talent Management and Succession Planning are common in the business world, but difficult to implement in public health agencies. Barriers include the wide diversity of tasks performed by a relatively small number of people, human resource staff unfamiliar with the nature of public health work, insufficient numbers of vacancies and trainees at any given time to justify specialized training programs, and methods incompatible with civil service. INTERVENTION: WIC Directors and staff from a ten state region participated in two facilitated discussions about succession planning in government. This input, combined with a detailed literature review, informed development of a simplified succession planning process. The development team contained current and former WIC directors, a former public health official, a federal agency human resource liaison, and a business school dean. Simplified templates on a CD-ROM and a workbook were presented during a three-hour workshop or individualized technical assistance. This work was preceded by a 3 year job analysis resulting in a comprehensive public health nutrition career pathway for WIC employees. SIGNIFICANCE: To our knowledge this is the first formalization of business succession planning designed to be used longitudinally by public health program managers or agency heads. Succession planning directed at specific people or particular jobs creates unhealthy tensions. If performed, it is usually a single well-intentioned campaign disconnected from staffing realities. Instead, a functional analysis of senior leadership roles engages the management team in systematic role-reallocation. Immediate needs are addressed, while long-term talent pools are identified. Mid-managers collaborate to identify "how many hats they wear" in order to cross-train each other in overlapping roles. Staff development occurs in a climate where particular skills and capabilities are recognized, and where opportunities for personal growth are encouraged. When political realities dictate that compensation cannot be increased, managers have other tools for sustaining morale.

Learning Objectives:
1) List the 7 Easy Steps for Succession Planning 2) Assess the readiness of your public health program or agency to embark on effective succession planning 3) Differentiate emergency succession planning, talent management and workforce development

Keywords: Workforce, Staff Retention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Five year intervention to develop a career path in Public Health Nutrition. WV State Health Officer 1996-2002. Currently Cecil County MD Deputy Health Officer (Medical). Teach Public Health Practice to Hopkins MPH students.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.