Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Leadership Succession: Dilemma or Opportunity for the Future. (@ Issue)

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Leadership Succession: Dilemma or Opportunity for the Future. (@ Issue)

Article excerpt

There's a significant graying of directors, superintendents, managers and supervisors in the parks and recreation field. In addition to planned retirements, there will be turnover resulting from career changes, illness, death and performance-related issues. When they occur, these transitions create significant changes within the organization and communities they serve. Yet few departments have made any effort to address this certainty of change.

We aren't the only profession to be deficient in this area. A survey by Elliot and Cooke of more than 1,000 CEOs and presidents on the adequacy of succession planning found that formal or informal plans were inadequate, if not nonexistent. Little was being done to identify potential successors or even interim leadership for transitional periods. If a second-in-command was identified, little was being done to prepare this person to take over the leadership of the organization in the future.

Key management areas such as organizational development, financial resource management, marketing, maintenance and facility development are all thoroughly addressed through common management practices. But how many of us have succession plans?

Many departments claim to have a succession plan, but nothing is in writing. Our field's national accreditation criteria doesn't include succession planning in the mix of requirements.

Without exception, each department should have a written succession plan. The plan should cover special situations and emergencies involving management coverage and succession. The preparation of boards and commissions to operate when there's a loss of executive leadership is critical for staff and community confidence in the organization and continuity of effort after the change.

Are you prepared? Key succession planning questions include:

* Are there fully developed back-ups for all key administrative staff?

* Have all key staff been cross-trained?

* What skills and competencies are needed for the future?

* Is there a plan for developing these skills, and are they matched to employee career goals and aspirations?

What kind of succession plan is best? Each organization will have different needs related to its work culture, workloads and capabilities.

One option is to do nothing until the event occurs. I hope that, after reviewing the dangers of having no plan, you'll discard this option. …

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