Succession Planning

Over the next five years, the City of Fredericksburg expects to lose a large number of highly trained, knowledgeable and experienced managers and skilled personnel in our organization due to retirements. This will impact the City in many different ways including the loss of knowledge and experience throughout the City organization.  It is critical that we recognize this loss and develop a plan for filling these positions with a focus on internal promotions when feasible. 

A key element in any organization is institutional knowledge at all levels of employees including people who know how and why past decisions were made.  Much of this critical information can be lost when key personnel retire unless a succession plan is developed to capture this knowledge.  In addition, it is important for the City to hire people with the skills, abilities and education that are needed to continue to provide quality services.  

The City of Fredericksburg has hired a number of very talented and qualified employees over the past 5-10 years.  A number of these individuals are motivated to move up within the organization and serve as future managers and leaders.  The identification of these key personnel and providing them with the training necessary for future management and leadership positions will play a major role in the future progress of the City of Fredericksburg.

The reasons for developing a succession plan for the City of Fredericksburg include:


  • Over 50% of the workforce in the United States is between 55-65 years of age and will retire within the next 5 years.
  • Baby Boomers who currently serve in leadership and management positions are declining at a rapid pace in the workforce. 
  • In the City of Fredericksburg, six out of the ten department heads are expected to retire in the next five years. 
  • A large number of City of Fredericksburg employees are over 55 years of age with many of these employees likely to retire within the next 5-10 years.  A number of these employees are in supervisory positions.
  • The costs for housing will continue to increase in Fredericksburg which will make it more and more challenging to recruit from outside of the community.

Based upon these factors, the following succession plan will be implemented to ensure that the City is prepared with a quality staff necessary to continue to provide excellent City services.  It should be kept in mind that this document is a work in progress.  It will be reevaluated every 2-3 years and updated based upon the changing needs of the City organization.  This Plan will be shared with other City employees so that they understand our commitment to their career development and to assist them with future promotional opportunities.  If any employee has a question about this Plan, they should contact either the City Manager or Human Resources Director.

Step 1-Needs Assessment

During the period from January-March 2020 the City will complete a staffing needs assessment for each City department.  This will focus on the next five years (2020-2025) and will include identification of all employees within each department who are anticipated to retire within this period.  It will also include any new staffing positions that are anticipated to be added to the City workforce during this same five-year period.  This effort will be coordinated by the City Manager and Human Resources Director with participation by each department head. 

Once each position that will be needed to be hired by 2020 is identified, a listing of the skills, training, experience and other requirements for each position will be listed.  This includes areas such as computer skills, supervisory experience and educational requirements.   The job descriptions for these positions will be reviewed and revised to ensure that they include all of the requirements necessary to fill the positions once they become vacant.

Step 2-Identification of Future Leaders

The next step in the succession plan (April-May, 2020) will be to identify future leaders who are both interested and qualified to move into supervisory/leadership positions within the next five years.  It is important that all current employees be involved in this process to ensure that every employee has a fair and equal opportunity to be considered for future promotional opportunities.

In considering the potential of our employees for future supervisor/leader positions, several key issues and questions will be considered.  How long does the employee plan to work for the City?  Do they have the passion and share the long-range vision for the organization?  Are they currently identified to be leaders within their team, crew or division?  Are they content with their current position or do they aspire for promotional opportunities?  What are their values and do these values conform with our organizational values?  The responses to these questions will help to identify the interested, qualified and motivated individuals who will be included in the City’s succession planning process.

Following this process, it should be recognized that there may be some of our future staffing needs that cannot be met by promotion of current City employees.  The City is a relatively small organization, and we simply may not have current employees who are qualified to be promoted to certain positions.  Some of the positions include highly technical training or other specific requirements that will require the City to hire from outside the organization. These positions will be identified as part of a gaps analysis process so that we can plan for future outside recruitment for these positions.  In any case, it should be recognized that our goal is to fill as many of our positions as possible through internal promotions.

Step 3-Training and Education

Once the future leaders of the City organization are identified, training and education will be initiated to prepare them for future promotional opportunities.  This training will be on-going and will include basic management skills such as planning, supervising, and organizing employees.  It will also include training in budgeting, human resources and computer skills provided by representatives from the Finance, Human Resources, and IT Departments. 

The City Manager will provide training on leadership skills that will be necessary in order for employees to be positioned for future promotional opportunities.  While this training will not guarantee that any employee will be promoted in the future, it will provide them with enhanced knowledge and skills necessary to effectively compete for future promotional opportunities.  This training will be conducted over a four -month period.   A certificate with be provided to each employee who completes the training.  Additional training will be provided every year if necessary to meet the City’s future staffing needs. 

In addition to this training, each of the future leaders of the City organization will be assigned a coach/mentor who will be available on a one-to-one basis to guide the employee and provide continuous feedback and encouragement.  This person should be a current supervisor or department head and should meet at least once a quarter with the employee for an update on their plans and discussion on any additional training that may be needed.


Organizations such as the City of Fredericksburg that have a long-term succession plan will be better prepared to address future needs and challenges.  By adopting and implementing this Plan, the City of Fredericksburg will be positioned to continue providing high quality services to our citizens that adhere to our core values for many years.