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Succession Planning 101 Can Help CIOs Avoid Staffing Challenges

With baby boomers starting to retire and retention always an issue, CIOs continually face staffing challenges. Here's how to build a pipeline before you are left high and dry by a sudden departure:

  1. Cross-train a group of staff so you have choices should an employee leave. So-called "Succession pooling is the best practice," says Jonathan Poe, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group Inc. It also puts you in a better position to bargain with internal candidates for positions that become vacant.
  2. Create a student co-op program, recommends Valerie Adamo, CIO of the Ontario-based Workplace Safety & Insurance Board, a government overseer of workplace safety. High school and college students can be trained cheaply and can continue working with you through or even past graduation. Their willingness to pick up skills using dying technologies could be a lifesaver.
  3. Initiate a mentoring program in which retiring employees train junior staffers. "When you know that you have a valuable resource leaving, and it will leave a hole in your organization, you usually know that way in advance," says Craig Copeland, a vice president at the Ocoee, Fla.-based consulting firm BCS Group. A mentoring relationship will enable knowledge transfer and keep retiring employees productive in their final days.

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