Developing the Future: Effective Succession Planning for Facilities Management in Higher Education
R e t a i n e d E x e c u t i v e S e a r c h Construction Facilities Management Real Estate Engineering Pi8sburgh www.helblingsearch.com 724.935.7500 Developing the Future: Succession Planning for Facilities Management in Higher Education ‐ by Thomas M. Dunn & Sami L. BarryFacili(es management is an essen(al func(on of a college The lack of formal plan can force university leaders to act quickly in or university campus, and each day an enGre department of the face of an unexpected departure, and this increases the chance professionals across various disciplines is collecGvely tasked to of an impulsive hiring decision. An emoGonal hire increases the maintain a harmonious relaGonship between the natural probability of selecGng a candidate who may not be the proper ﬁt, landscape, built environment, and the human element. The and that mis‐hire can compromise departmental goals while required skill‐set to be an eﬀecGve leader within the realm of creaGng a myriad of issues beyond the iniGal vacancy. It is faciliGes management is constantly changing, and the technical extremely diﬃcult to avoid emoGonal decisions when engaged in a skills or personal intangibles required to succeed today will be subjecGve evaluaGon process, but having a succession plan can diﬀerent in ﬁve, ten, or ﬁPeen years. This dynamic can make saGsfy internal candidates, external candidates, and decision projecGng future talent a challenging process, but succession makers by keeping the process objecGve. planning is a tool that can facilitate foresight to prepare an insGtuGon for department growth or the loss of key individuals. Creating and executing an effective planThere are some common issues that Three key components of an eﬀecGve can hinder an ins(tu(on from succession plan are: crea(ng a long‐term plan. The establishment of a formal ✓ ﬂexibilityFirst, exisGng top management may feel as succession plan can allow a ✓ realisGc goalsthough succession planning is too far facili<es management department ✓ performance measurement detached from the department’s day‐to‐day operaGons. Therefore, it is oPen to ensure its future success by A succession plan will have the best chance to be eﬀecGve if it is adaptable and sensible relegated to an aPerthought when foreseeing its human capital because it must be understood and compeGng against the daily agenda. needs. accepted by an enGre department. Secondly, a lack of departmental funding to secure or develop talent is a harsh Phase One ‐ CreaBng the Planreality with many university budgets dwindling, and a thin budget The ﬁrst phase in the process involves internal evaluaGon, can lead to extended interim leaders, external searches being put discussion, and the establishment of departmental goals. on hold, or department reorganizaGon. Finally, the most signiﬁcant hurdle is oPen the simple fact that an insGtuGon’s current roster of ‣ IdenBfy leadership roles that require a smooth transiBon and internal talent is inadequate to meet its succession goals, so the deﬁne criBcal aGributes for each posiBon. idea is never formalized to develop internal talent or assess This allows a department to prioriGze its needs and external opGons. The establishment of a formal succession plan narrow its focus.can allow a faciliGes management department to ensure its future ‣ IdenBfy individuals who may be reBring within the next one success by foreseeing its human capital needs. to ﬁve years. Create an ongoing dialogue with individuals approaching The benefits of creating a plan reGrement to gain their view of eﬀecGve talent development and promote knowledge sharing. Stability and long term incenGves at many insGtuGons can keep ‣ Evaluate your internal staﬀ and idenBfy which individuals can execuGve level roles under excellent leadership for decades, but be developed for future leadership roles.there can be a void of internal talent to maintain conGnuity when a This creates a baseline grade for each member of the department leader moves on. As a result, many universiGes are professional staﬀ and posiGons them for leadership forced to be reacGve when ﬁlling strategic posiGons. The funcGon development programs. of a succession plan is to create a proacGve process of staﬀ development and to help to deﬁne the speciﬁc a8ributes that are ‣ Create iniBaBves to develop internal talent.required to perform leadership roles. This is an imperaGve step in the process because it serves as the ulGmate goal.
‣ IdenBfy roles that may need to be ﬁlled from outside of A candidate from outside of your organiza(on can bring: your insBtuBon. ✓ New Ideas: Many faciliGes management departments are There is likely to be an area where the internal staﬀ is populated with long tenure employees, and it is not inadequate to meet long term goals, and an internal abnormal for processes to se8le into a mindset of “this is evaluaGon process will aid in the idenGﬁcaGon of the way we have always done it”. It is beneﬁcial to have areas that need strengthened. conGnuity and established pracGces, but an external ‣ Share your ﬁndings, goals, and a ﬁnal draL of the plan candidate can objecGvely idenGfy and create best with your enBre department. pracGces. Open communicaGon is essenGal to the success of a ✓ New PerspecBve: Every problem or opportunity is seen as succession plan. It should clearly arGculate career a new problem or opportunity to an external candidate. incenGves for top performers and show how a This means that they are not inﬂuenced by past history, department plans to develop its internal talent. and they can generate fresh approaches to old issues. ✓ New Technology: External candidates can oPen bring revoluGonary approaches to systems, processes, and Phase Two ‐ ExecuBng the Plan procedures. There are highly skilled individuals from the The second phase involves acGve talent development, internal private sector that can be extremely innovaGve when benchmarking, and conGnuous modiﬁcaGon of the plan: adapGng to the public sector. Recent reGrements from ‣ Meet with idenBﬁed internal talent to make them fully the private sector can also prove to be valuable short‐ and aware of future opportuniBes and outline their potenBal mid‐term hires because they are highly knowledgeable career path. and oPen reasonably priced. This can promote stability and moGvate key ✓ Diversity: Adding female and minority talent to your team employees by creaGng a clear career path. can be extremely valuable if your current staﬀ is ‣ Involve internal talent in cross‐funcBonal projects to homogeneous, and the department can beneﬁt from a diversify their exisBng skill‐sets and keep them wider range of opinions, experiences, and ideas. challenged. Generally, the corporate sector has been more acGve in This technique is highly successful in developing recruiGng and developing female and minority talent in talent. These cross‐funcGonal tasks should focus on engineering, construcGon, and faciliGes professions. improving weaknesses without compromising These corporate candidates oPen possess acute ﬁscal strengths. awareness and a strong ability to generate business policy ‣ Document and update benchmarks at quarterly meeBngs which is less common in a tradiGonal higher educaGon to evaluate progress. faciliGes candidate. Maintain and update records on each staﬀ member to Vital roles within a faciliGes department can become vacant for a have empirical data on their career development. mulGtude of reasons related to family, career growth, reGrement, ‣ Evaluate outside candidates using the same criBcal or illness. The departure of an individual may be expected or aGributes that are deﬁned for internal candidates. unexpected, but it is unavoidable that your succession plan will see A succession plan should be used to examine internal its share of successes and failures. Nonetheless, it is important not and external talent on a level playing ﬁeld, and to be overly discouraged or encouraged by a parGcular result. A external candidates should always be evaluated succession plan is meant to help your insGtuGon navigate the according to the skills outlined in your plan. unpredictability of the human element, and a single success or ‣ Update and modify your plan. failure cannot quanGfy its beneﬁt. The bo8om line is that in most An eﬀecGve succession plan should be concise and cases, a succession plan will serve as an insurance policy for those easily reﬁned. Every posiGon should have another situaGons, and will at the very least, aid your organizaGon in posiGon for which they are being groomed. preparing for whatever the future may hold. The indirect benefits of a planIn the event of a successful internal promoGon, it is important to Thomas M. Dunn is a Search Consultant with Helbling & Associates. He recognize that a department’s internal talent may not be suﬃcient may be contacted at (724) 935‐7500 X104 or via email at at some point in the chain of succession. SomeGmes, it is firstname.lastname@example.org. necessary and preferable to hire from outside of the organizaGon, Sami L. Barry performs Strategic Market Development for Helbling & and a well‐established plan can help to idenGfy external candidates Associates. She may be contacted at (724) 935‐7500 X102 or via email at that can meet long‐term succession goals. email@example.com. Subscribe to Helbling’s quarterly newsleBer by visi<ng our home page at www.helblingsearch.com and clicking on the green buBon.