Sonoma County has a keen interest in providing employees with opportunities for advancement. The County also is committed to ensuring retention of high-performing employees and, to the extent possible, promoting from within the ranks of existing County employees.
The creation of a strong “back-bench” leadership pool is the key factor to meeting these objectives, and the fastest route to a successful leadership pool is an organizational culture grounded in a succession "mindset."
Virtually all succession development is rooted in the appropriate assumption that tomorrow's leaders can be identified from today's talent pool. By using agreed-upon leadership competencies as the lens through which to observe and evaluate behavior, individuals can be groomed and developed so they can effectively compete for promotional opportunities through a combination of education, mentoring, job rotation, and other strategies.
The County Succession Development Model
The County's succession planning model incorporates the following three elements:
- Talent Review Forums. Process-driven forums for conducting transparent reviews of anticipated vacancies, bench strength, and readiness at multiple levels across the entire County.
- Sonoma County HIGHER. A multi-month program designed to prepare leaders for senior roles in the County. Attended by a select group of around 25 mid- to upper level managers, the Academy includes seven (7) facilitated training sessions, approximately one month apart, taught by experts; mentorship from senior leaders in the County utilizing a process that will be scalable toward a more generalized mentorship program; and a behavior-based 360 degree leadership development assessment supported with individualized coaching sessions, interpretation, goal-setting, follow-up, and behavioral reinforcement. SoCo HIGHER culminates in a series of small team projects to create viable solutions to existing County, organizational and/or community issues with a mentor or coach assigned to each project team.
- Employee Development Resource Guide. An online resource for supervisors and managers in the County designed to provide information and support for career development. The guide includes courses offered by the County, external education and training resources,and information on mentoring, professional associations, and other external resources relevant to career development.