Reprinted with permission from the May 2016 issue of Public Management (PM) magazine published and copyrighted by ICMA (International City/County Management Association), Washington, D.C.
By Ratna Okhai
As baby boomer managers continue to retire, there are fewer Generation X professionals (those born between 1964 and 1977) prepared to fill their positions. Research suggests that millennials (younger than 36 years old) know very little about the services of local government management.
Frank Benest, former city manager of Palo Alto, California, suggested in the landmark 2003 ICMA report Preparing the Next Generation: A Guide for Current and Future Local Government Managers that this lack of ready-and-willing young people to replace retiring managers was causing a “quiet crisis.” Today, as ICMA liaison for Next Generation Initiatives, he calls the replacement gap a “silver tsunami.”
In order to ensure a successful transition of leadership from one generation to the next, the Florida City and County Management Association (FCCMA) is devoting its entire 2016 annual conference to this important issue.
Conference planners are using the 2003 ICMA report as the basis for the content and signature events. The goal is simple: to develop talent from the younger generations for the sustainability of local government management.
FCCMA President-Elect and Chairman of the Conference Planning Committee Robert (Bobby) Green observed that the interactive sessions and all keynote speakers will present a number of themes based on “Preparing the Next Generation.”
Benest has been invited to open the conference with the keynote address A Call to Action. He will also participate in a breakout session entitled 39 Best Practices for Preparing the Next Generation.
Sessions geared to help make current professionals more aware of this critical issue and help governments understand how to attract young talent and retain it include:
- What Executive Recruiters Say about Landing That First Manager or Assistant Job. Recruiters see their chief responsibility as bringing forward only those candidates who-without question-possess the full range of skills needed for the position.
- Self-Development Strategies for Aspiring Managers. Preparing to become a city or county manager is a serious undertaking; it requires both ability and ambition.
- Sharing Personal Journeys. Managers need to use the art of storytelling to offer the next generation their personal stories: what drew them to the profession, why they stay, and-most important-their passion for their chosen profession.
- ICMA Next Generation Initiatives. Rob Carty, ICMA director of career services and Next Generation Initiatives, is part of a panel that will discuss the efforts created to attract a wide and diverse group of people into the local government management profession. This includes students, early and mid-career professionals, and individuals from other fields.
- The Ethics of Diversity. FCCMA is committed to working with its members, and the communities they serve, to honor the fundamental value and dignity of all individuals, and to help organizations manage and create communities that respect diversity and promote inclusiveness.
Seventy free, one-day registrations will be offered by FCCMA to emerging professionals, ICMA Student Chapter members, and department directors to join seasoned managers and assistants at this year’s exciting conference. FCCMA Executive Director Lynn Tipton said, “We are excited to partner with ICMA this year to work on best practices for getting the next generation of local public managers ready! The hands-on learning and takeaways that will be offered at the conference will help our members and the profession for years to come.”
The council-manager form of government is the most prevalent form in Florida’s 67 counties and 411 cities. The Florida City and County Management Association Annual Conference will be held June 1-4, 2016, at the Hilton Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.