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Succession Planning for Senior Staff Positions

The problem was the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department did not have a policy for rotating senior level managers through critical staff positions to provide professional development as part of a succession plan.

The purpose of this applied research project was to develop a draft policy for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, that addresses the rotation of senior managers through critical staff positions.

The action research method was used to answer the following research questions:
1. What are the benefits to the organization of rotating senior level managers through critical staff positions?
2. What are similar public and private sector organizations currently doing to prepare managers for positions of increased responsibility?
3. What are the organizational barriers to including successful strategies from similar departments into the draft Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department policy?

Literature searches were initiated at the National Emergency Training Center’s (NETC) Learning Resource Center (LRC) and through the Information Services of the Fairfax County, Virginia library system. The literature review involved the search of human resource and organizational development textbooks, professional journals, and reports.

The results of the research indicated that the private and the public sector have realized the benefits of identifying potential future leaders within an organization. A well-planned rotation policy provides organizational overview, encourages interdepartmental cooperation, brings fresh viewpoints to otherwise stagnant sections of the organizations, and to promote flexibility.

The results of the interviews revealed that there are successful policies being utilized in other similar departments. The interviews also indicated several barriers to placing a policy in effect in the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

The researcher recommended the implementation of the draft proposal to rotate senior managers through critical staff positions in Appendix A.
Source: FEMA
Author: David L. Rohr

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