Succession Planning: A Full-Time Job
Facing continuous staffing pressures, in-plant managers have to accept succession planning as a full-time responsibility. The task starts with having a clear sense of what to look for in people being considered for hiring or promotion.
The consensus among those interviewed by IPI is that while hands-on experience is always essential, an aptitude for management counts for as least as much — especially in those whose duties will include supervising people.
Mike Loyd, executive director of the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association, acknowledges that it can be hard for someone without prior print exposure to “come in from the blue” and succeed at an in-plant job. But, he thinks that teaching print skills to a novice with basic management ability may sometimes work better than trying to implant management skills in a career craftsperson.
Management doesn’t always come naturally to “people who have a proclivity for the technical,” Loyd observes. It makes more sense to nurture people who are “teachable” and who consistently display “a willingness to learn, to try, and to do whatever is involved to get the work accomplished.”
Tammy Golden, with the State of Tennessee, notes that while she’d prefer not to have to choose between the two kinds of abilities, she would rather have “average technical skills and excellent leadership skills than the other way around.”
John Sarantakos, of the University of Oklahoma, insists that “you can’t have one without the other.” But, he also asserts, “you don’t have to know how to run a big press to be a good manager” as long as the managerial eye for quality and efficiency is sharp.
What every in-plant wants in its future managers and leaders is a combination, as Golden puts it, of “high energy, integrity, and trust”: a type of star quality that should not be difficult to spot.
Related story: Staying Staffed and Stable in a Tight Labor Market