Staff turnover is as inevitable as death and taxes, and for government it looms on the horizon. By the end of 2015, according to OPM projections, more than 50 percent of the 7,746 senior executives in place at the beginning of 2011 will have left government, taking with them key institutional knowledge and critical skills.” So begins recent study published by the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton entitled “Preparing the People Pipeline: A Federal Succession Planning Primer.”

As we get closer to that 2015 turnover projection, what can federal agencies do to recruit and prepare the next generation of government leadership? To answer this question, Lisa Doyle of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently led a webinar to share her thoughts on using government training as a platform for effective succession planning.

Doyle serves as Chancellor of the VA Acquisition Academy, a state of the art, 16-classroom campus where the VA trains its acquisition professionals.  She views training as a key component to succession planning, and offered these best practices during her webinar:

  • Align training with agency mission: Through the Acquisition Academy, learners visit VA hospitals and participate in other hands-on activities so they can tangibly experience the work of their agency. Doyle believes this close connection to the overall mission of the agency helps to inspire and retain new employees.
  • Use hands-on, experiential learning: Employees are more likely to retain new knowledge if they are able to apply it immediately in practical situations. As a result, VA learners intersperse training with days in the office so they can quickly apply new skills on the job.
  • Leverage technology for engaging content and collaboration: The VA Acquisition Academy leverages tech tools, such as video teleconferencing, not only to deliver training content, but also to engage learners with the same high-tech tools they will use on the job.
  • Give interns opportunities to lead: The VA acquisition team offers a 3-year internship program to train their next generation of employees and leaders. Doyle believes that “there are opportunities to lead at every level,” so she encourages interns to contribute to their team and become increasingly self-sufficient through their program.

How is your agency preparing the next generation of government employees? Are you already using internship or other training programs to develop young leaders?  Let us know in the comments below, or learn more by listening to Doyle’s webinar here.

About Lisa Doyle Lisa Doyle is the Chancellor of the VA Acquisition Academy as a member of the Senior Executive Service, where she fosters and promotes the development of VA acquisition professionals.  As head of the Academy, Ms. Doyle formulates and delivers the strategies needed to develop acquisition business advisors.  With more than 29 years of experience as an acquisition professional in both the federal and private sector, she is responsible for training the VA acquisition workforce by instilling essential competencies and skills, establishing career development programs, and developing meaningful experiential learning opportunities.

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