Public agencies have until recently not been engaging in succession planning. Succession planning is the process by which an organization plans for and replaces outgoing managers, executives and selected chief employees. Such employees initially held vital positions affecting the success of the organization, and preparing for succession is critical to the success of an organization in its present and future plans. The process of succession planning includes carrying out preparations of how the organization will select and recruit successors, the most effective way to handle changes between executives and how to build upon its successors (Todnem & Macleod, 2009).
The succession planning process also includes identification of potential in employees and afterwards making them a part of specialized training and growth programs that are important for future managerial roles. This process is very important for present and future sustainability of an organization and its initiatives. It also makes sure that the mission of an organization is practically achievable even after a turnover, particularly in the public sector.
The study that was conducted took a qualitative research approach in a bid to establish and analyse the methods that public agencies have adopted to plan for changes in top leadership and key employees. Specifically in Ventura County, the approach taken was a study of descriptive cases in order to appreciate the process and essence of planning for succession of two agencies, the Ventura Health Agency and Ventura County Library. In both Ventura Health Agency and Ventura County Library, the mechanisms used in succession planning were analysed.
Qualitative Research and specific case studies gave a profound comprehension of the research problem. The method gives an understanding of rules that govern the behaviour of employees in the public sector and the effect of that behaviour on the process of research on succession planning. Additionally, the research method examined the research question in exclusion of all other variables in the sector or giving any justification for the relationships as they existed in their natural environment (Pasquerella, Killilea & Vocino, 2011).
The qualitative method of research observed and contributed to the final data recorded specifically in the public sector as per the research question. The process thus gave the prospect of original work because the research was based on a natural setting and events observed were original. The method is not flexible giving the researcher an opportunity to adjust study focus to accommodate new developments and change in the research topic. Field work is easier and cheaper to accomplish because there are no detailed preparations to be undertaken due to the fact that the data relied upon was natural and did not involve qualified professionals in public sector succession.
The research method chosen was the most effective because unlike other qualitative research methods there was observation of data and coming up with personal analysis that related to the research question. Additionally, this research method gives an opportunity to examine and understand difficult problems and develop solutions to those problems by application of data collection. This is done while providing a broader comprehension of variables. It is therefore most effective because assists in rearrangement of the process of research while at the same time keeping sight of the objectives of the research on succession in the public sector.
- How does the Ventura Health Agency and the Ventura County Library plan for leadership changes?
- What are the challenges of succession planning in the Ventura Health Agency and the Ventura County Library?
- What is the best meansrole of sustaining innovation and programs in the public sectoragencies in Ventura County while changing administrations and main concern areas?during succession planning?
The research design will explore methods used in the process of collecting data throughout conducting the research. With emphasis on the objective of the research and research question four methods of data collection under the qualitative research process were employed in data analysis. The specific process used was carrying out detailed observations which was the main method of collection of data, focus groups and an in depth analysis of primary and secondary data that exists in connection with the process and procedures used during planning for succession of top management and leadership in the two selected study areas Johnson (2010).
The observation carried out under the research design was on applicable employees of both the Ventura Health Care Agency and the Ventura County Library in a bid to determine with clarity any gaps in analysis of the needs of employees in succession planning.. The employees considered relevant to the study were observed at all levels of management starting from the highest ranking employee to the lowest level of staff. The duration of the study was four weeks, and observations were only practicable during working days and within working hours of Ventura County. During the period which the observation was conducted, the research yielded information on success planning of the two selected study areas. ThereIn addition to that, there was direct and indirect interaction between the researcher and employees within the public institutions in their natural environment. The research particularly targeted employees who had previously been involved in any activities that were related to succession planning on top of employees who were taking part in activities of the program during the period of study and observation.
In The first method to be analysed is the observation method,method. In this process, research was conducted using participatory observation and observation that did not involve any contribution by the researchers. Observation was conducted by directly observing subjects of the study and other related phenomena in their occurrences as they do naturally. The observation was conducted without introducing any intrusion in the normal occurrence of activities involving succession planning in the two public agencies selected in a bid to get a detailed comprehension of each individual characteristic and an explanation for any behaviour of the characteristic, distinct or otherwise (Hale, 2011).
The process of conducting observations can be carried out in two ways. The first process involves direct participation while the second process is non participatory observation. In the participatory process of observation, there is direct interaction with the research subjects under observation. The practical aspect of the observation was making an actual connection as part of the membership involved in the process of conducting succession process, in a bid to get information and knowledge of facts that could not be practically obtained through secondary sources of information and non participatory process of information gathering (Pasquerella, Killilea & Vocino, 2011).
The second process of conducting observation on the other hand is the non participatory observation. In this observation process, there is no intrusion of any kind by the subject during the entire period of carrying out the observation. The researcher in both Ventura Health Agency and Ventura County Library only conducted observations of the subjects while they were in the natural setting in the public sector and through the process of distant observation reached a conclusion in relation to their behaviour during the period which they were under observation.
Relevance of observation process
According to Johnson (2010) the overall process of observation gave the researcher a direct opportunity to know exactly which employee took part in the entire succession process, whether the role played by the employee was in the past activities of the organization or in ongoing activities. This is only as long as there was a common nexus of playing a role in the process of planning for succession within the selected institutions.
The researcher was equipped with information that related to the procedure of recruitment and identification of employees that would be targeted by the succession process and the process of selection of the intended beneficiaries of the entire project. Majorly, through the general observation process, the researcher learnt about the responsibilities allocated to each person particularly the most senior employees in the entire process starting from recruitment, identification and finally training to achieve the desired character traits necessary for smooth leadership transition.
Without over emphasizing, the researcher had the ability to determine with a degree of certainty the gravity with which the entire process was treated, at all the distinct stages and the activities per stage. There was also an opportunity to determine the period through which officials underwent training and the employees taking part in the entire activity of planning for succession in the selected public institutions. With this information, there is the possibility of reaching a determination on the period of the process where there may be a lack of focus and a deviation from the goals and intended outcome of the entire process and assisted in coming up with a solution for the impasse to make the process better and more effective.
According to Babbie (2011), non-participatory observation reduceson the other hand reduced the margin of error and uncertainty of information that was composed during the four weeks of conducting research. Through this method, employees of the two public institutions selected for this study were scrutinized without any actual interference with their natural course of work, increasing the accuracy of information that was gathered at the end of the period. The researcher had an opportunity to come up with a subjective view supported by evidence gathered on the methods and approaches that were taken by each public institution.
Additionally, there was advancement in the credibility pegged on the project due to the fact that the influence that senior staff could have on the process was limited because there was no room for a public institution to change an entire mode of operation in a bid to alter the changes that the researcher was able to get. The comparison between the results in the two institutions and possible observance of severe discrepancies in the results pointed out the possibilities of foul play.
For efficient time use, the researcher structured the process of data collection to complement information obtained from other methods of data collection, for example focus groups. In addition to well utilization of research time, structuring of data collection acted as clear guidelines for time limits and legal restrictions that regulated the process. The observation method was mainly selected due to its accuracy and efficiency.
Selection of Subjects
Selection of subjects for the research was done after consideration of factors relevant in the selection of the team that was to take part in the research. The most important considerations that were taken into account were gender, race, ethnic background, relevant work experience and professional qualifications. In addition to that, there was a common recognition of the importance of different ideas that could be included in the research from diverse members of the organization, leading to selection of staff that cut across the entire organization.
The team that conducted the research took keen consideration of gender balance in selecting representing members, thus maintain the objectivity with which it had set out to achieve and reaffirming quality and accuracy of information that was collected. Inclusion of all the levels of staff membership guaranteed that the information presented was not bias in any way by reducing the chances of interference by any level of leadership or management through monopoly granted over the process.
Data Collection Procedure
The observation process, specifically participatory observation had the ability to give the researcher's subjective determination of feedback from employees about personal takes on the succession process in the selected institutions. This process gave a reflection of the reaction of different employees at different ranks and an opportunity to air their subjective views towards the process and procedure of picking and engaging employees to take part in planning for succession of the program
The procedure used for collection of data was both digital and paper based. Information was obtained by observation in the non interactive format and the data obtained was entered in the database and forwarded to a central location. The data was also collected by asking direct questions that were relevant to the succession process and entries made whether digitally on computers or in hard copies (Eadie, 2011).
Procedure for data analysis
Proper analysis of data is important for tying loose ends in the research topic. Through data analysis, there is identification of potential for future development and existing gaps in research areas with potential for development. This process is continuous and consistent and it assists in reaching practical solutions to research problems without too much delay and also assists in identifying future needs while conducting similar research.
The data collected in the data collection procedure is first analysed, coded and categorized depending on its relevance and importance. This is the same data that had been initially collected by qualified individuals. The essence of data coding is to get an opportunity to prepare data in line with the objectives of the research which was to determine public institutions process for succession preparation.
Through coding of data, the research team will be able to analyse data and find solutions to the key research questions and issues connected thereto. The data collection and coding gives a detailed and very inclusive summary of all the data that had been collected by diverse members of the research team and through this, it is still determined whether it is relevant to the initial research questions. Inaccurate, incomplete and irrelevant data is not included as part of the information making part of the conclusion during coding.
The process enabledAside from coding, the research team also employed other forms of data analysis known as discourse analysis. The process involved an analysis of the patterns of communication taking place among the identified subjects of the research in their natural work environment. Through this process, the research team was able to establish how Ventura Health Agency and the Ventura County Library communicate and how efficiently communication is taking place. The main advantage of the discourse analysis, coding and categorizing of data was that through this analysis, the researcher determined successfully how procedures of communication have an impact on the overall success of planning procedures that were being undertaken by the organization (Babbie, 2011).
TheThe other method used for analysing data collected was by conducting a content analysis. Enormous content of information gathered during research is analysed and emphasis placed on determination of primary methods applied by the selected public agencies while conducting succession planning. The process also gives an analysis of the challenges that are faced in the process of succession planning in the public agencies.
The advantages identified by using this process is that presentation and reflection of data collected are comprehensible and intended users of the research information will have an opportunity to understand information faster because it is straightforward even during application. In addition to being comprehensible, the method is cheaper than other comparative processes due to the fact that it does not use experts in the field of succession planning. The advantage of coding as a procedure for data analysis in Ventura County was that in clarified the process by which advancement and delivery of customized training was carried out during succession planning. The simplicity of information analysed and reflected gives researchers and users a simple task of only analysing the results to understand primary issues and concerns derived from the research. In addition, this method is practical due to availability of data because researchers only had to carry out an observation of human behaviour whether participatory or not.
The final procedure used for analysis was grounded theory method used in analysing data. This method derives a theory of the subject that was being studied. Specifically, the information that is collected from the research is analysed keenly and inferences are drawn from the analysis of the study. The theory drawn is a nexus between the subject of the research and recommendations that resulted from data analysis, such as showing the gradual progress of succession planning from the onset to its successful conclusion.analysis.
In this specific case, succession planning was conducted by an analysis of the process by which selection and recruitment was carried out in a bid to determine the connection that existed between the procedures used succession planning in those public institutions and the overall effectiveness the program registers within the organization. The persons in charge of conducting the research has the ability to determine issues that ought to be addressed by the organization that will have the effect of improving the efficiency of the program and achieving intended results from the process since its onset.
Assumptions of the study
The study was conducted based on the following assumptions,
- That the highest management levels at the selected public institutions in Ventura County took part in the process of succession planning and had the capacity to authorize all programs that were related to the course.
- That all the employees who were subject of the study and those who were not taking direct part in the research process had a comprehension of the succession planning, its relevance in the institution and policies and procedures that were set by the organization in line with the activities of the organization.
- That the members selected to take active part in the selection planning process also take part in relevant decision making and making policies and the role played by each person as a member of the team is crucial and cannot be undervalued.
- That the meaning accorded to succession management and leadership transition is one and the same, and used interchangeably to refer to the same thing.
- The data collected during research was truthful and honest, and that there were no underlying reasons for the two public institutions selected to adjust or forge any of the information obtained during observation to alter results achievable.
Limitation of the study
The study balanced selection of the members to take part in the research activities however, there were still challenges experienced in the process. To begin with, qualitative research as a means of data analysis resulted in more consumption of time during data collection. This was because of time limits for conducting the research and concluding it in both institutions and compliance with guidelines that governed the process. This resulted in the allocation of more responsibilities to each member of the group taking part in the research, which is stretched thin could eventually compromise the quality and accuracy of the information due to human error and fatigue.
Secondly, the selected public institutions Ventura Health Agency and Ventura County Library as samples of procedures and methods that public agencies use to plan for succession in public agencies may not give an accurate description of the public sector succession planning process. This is because of the fact that even though the public sector is governed by the same laws, policies and regulations, they operated under diverse conditions and none of the conditions would be directly identical to situations in other public institutions and organizations.
According to Dresang & Dresang (2009) observation method used during research undermined the accuracy and quality of information obtained at the end of the process because the non participatory observation was unable to verify some of the information obtained and could not identify chief informants of planning for succession within those institutions.
The research team maintained focus on the objectives of the research and maintained professionalism. However, there was still an existing margin of error in the information obtained from the process. The data collected may not be an accurate depiction of the actual situation in the organizations. This is because of intimidation of junior members by the process from the direct presence of their superiors and strangers in the research team during the entire process of data collection. This may provide inaccurate results that may weaken the quality of research activity.
The importance of succession planning and leadership transition in public institutions and organizations cannot be limited. Due to its essence, it is necessary to have a deeper understanding of methods and techniques that are used in succession management by increasing the extent of public institutions that were analysed. The data will be compared and consolidated to come up with information that accurately depicts the situation in general public agencies.
The quality of research conducted will also depend on comprehensive preliminary studies that will acknowledge the most effective methods of conducting research in public institutions that is related to succession and leadership transition. Quality of information received is depicted through the research process because it will ensure that researchers have all the information such as appropriate data collection, analysis and procedures.
The progress of the paper will be an analysis of data that has been collected from observation and group discussions conducted by focus groups. In addition to that, there will be an analysis of the effects of the studies and implications that the results of the study will have on planning in the public agencies that had been selected for research in Ventura County.
The justification for selection of these two agencies was that analysis of succession planning in those agencies was in line with the recent trends of improving performance and workforce initiatives that has been undertaken by Ventura County. Further, upon successful completion of succession planning, the study from Ventura county Library and Ventura Health Agency will give a general analysis of the main challenge in government workforce and where the problem, if any, lies in order to be corrected particularly within Ventura County.
The methods of succession planning in these two agencies are both different and distinct; however, the study will show a common nexus in succession planning in government agencies within Ventura County that could not be possibly observed by analysis of other government and public agencies. Specifically, an analysis of these two agencies effectively brought out how an assessment of needs in these agencies are carried out and how both short term and long term professional advancement programs are conducted. The study also introduced an aspect of customer service that has been relatively new to succession planning in the public agencies in general (Boivard, 2009).
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