The Development Of St. Petersburg’s Water Resources Department Succession Plan

By Dwight D. Wilson, City of St. Petersburg, FL | November 2012, Vol. 67, No. 11

The blue print of a succession plan will allow an organization to continue functioning at no less than the current service levels, preferably better, as staff matriculates through promotions, retirements and separations. While this certainly is not a new phenomenon, it has taken on a more urgent and focused effort due to the expectation of the large number of retirees. While the economy has played a role in delaying some exoduses as of late, the impact was still felt in the first year. For example from October 2006 -- 2007, the Water Resources Department saw over 30 staff members separate their employment for various reasons, taking with them their knowledge and years of experience.

So one might ask why these four areas and what have been the results? We believe that education (knowledge) is the fundamental base to one’s success. The more knowledgeable one is, the better they are and all of their affiliations. Therefore, we encourage and support staff to pursue degrees of higher education, certifications and licensing. From achieving a bachelor’s degree to becoming a certified operator to a professional engineer or CPA, we encourage our staff. This positions them for future opportunities within the organization. Industry knowledge can only enhance the utility. There have been many activities under this area such as hosting College Educational Fairs and partnering with local colleges and universities to teach specific industry related courses and curriculum offerings. We offer tuition reimbursement and have hosted scholarship sessions to show staff where additional funding might be available.

Staff development and training is another very critical area. Often organizations do not perform enough in this area to ensure their staff gets properly trained and the staff that is promoted gets the training to develop in their new areas of responsibility. This process should be standard procedure that goes beyond just name alone. The Water Resources Department is reviewing its current job training programs and has already revised several to ensure the quality of the materials and the content.

Health and finances
Our employees’ health and wellness is also important to us. We have hosted health forums, cancer screenings, blood and bone marrow drives and we even have fresh fruit and veggies delivered on-site as a healthy alternative to traditional snacks. We also have restocked our vending machines with healthier options, encouraged walking groups, hosted Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Sessions and rolling out in the very new future, we will have a ‘tobacco-free campus’ policy.