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Succession Planning for Indiana Utilities

By Scott A. Miller, CPA, Partner, November 02, 2017

Effective Succession Planning is Critical to Promoting Continuity of Utility Operations

In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we are once again reminded of our dependence on our critical utility infrastructure.  Long hours spent developing recovery scenarios prove their worth as we witness utility crews quickly moving into affected areas to begin the restoration process.  And while the timing of future events is unknown, the planning to address them has already taken place.  The same level of care put into disaster recovery planning should be practiced with your most important asset – your employees.  A succession plan needs to be an integral management tool for your utility.

America’s workforce is changing.  Every day since 2011, approximately 10,000 baby boomers have turned 65 and this trend will continue until 2030.  Information compiled by the Pew Research Center, indicates that during the first quarter of 2015, Millennials surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the workforce.  At the same time, Bureau of Labor and Statistics data shows the median age for water and sewer plant operators is 48.3 years – near the top of the list.  In fact, across-the-board public sector jobs have, on average, an older workforce than many other industries.  In time, changing demographics will impact utilities as well.

Implementing effective succession planning now can help you manage these workforce transitions while retaining key skills and knowledge within your organization.  At its core, succession planning is simply a process to identify and develop new people to fill critical roles.  Start by preparing an inventory of your current employees detailing their skills and responsibilities.  Then define which positions must be filled on a daily basis for your utility to continue to operate.  For these key positions, identify the knowledge or skills that are crucial to success.

Next, perform a gap analysis to determine where you may have exposure if a current employee leaves or if you have a current unmet need.  There are a number of ways these gaps can be closed.  Cross-training, additional education or mentoring for current employees can all be effective means to enhance your existing employee’s performance and value to the organization.  If internal solutions are not available, identify where and how you can access external talent pools.  Finally, reassess and track your progress.  Succession planning is an ongoing business process.  When conducted effectively, you should see gaps in knowledge or skills being closed and employees should be progressing in their careers.  Be prepared to make adjustments to the plan to achieve the best results.

If you would like additional information regarding implementing a sustainable Succession Plan, please contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Information in this article was believed current as of the date of publication. As you know, changes occur frequently. The information presented is of a general educational nature. Before applying to your specific circumstances, please contact us at


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