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Phase 3 - Develop the Workforce Strategies and Plan

Now that the workforce gaps have been identified, prioritize the areas where you have the most pressing needs so you can develop solutions. In order to use available resources wisely, it is essential to determine the most critical workforce gaps and develop solutions that enable you to continue to meet the department's strategic goals and critical business outcomes.  Strategize recruitment and retention efforts to specific levels of staff that possess the right competencies.

See the State of California Succession Planning Model for specific guidance on succession planning.


This phase brings together the findings from previous phases to develop a comprehensive plan containing practical strategies to address the department's workforce needs over the next three to five years.


Strategies for where you want your department's workforce to be in the next three to five years which will serve as the basis for your workforce plan.

Steps to Accomplish the Deliverable

  1. Classify issues in terms of recruitment, retention, employee development, knowledge transfer and succession planning risks.  Some issues may fall into an ‘other’ category.
  2. Present gap analysis findings and the list of at-risk classifications to the Steering Committee to determine priorities for developing strategies based on a classification’s risk level
  3. Work together to develop strategies to address gaps and issues in at-risk classifications.

    1. Utilize the State of California Succession Planning Model to assist in developing succession planning strategies.

  4. Determine which solutions will be recommended to senior leadership, and present these for approval.
  5. Develop a comprehensive workforce plan to organize data, analysis, and include strategies addressing recruitment, retention, employee development, knowledge transfer and succession planning needs.
  6. Create an action plan including specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, and time-based metrics for each strategy.

Tools to Assist with Steps

Detailed Information to Assist with Steps

Step 1: Classify Workforce Planning Issues

Review the data analysis findings from Phase 2 to categorize risks in terms of recruitment, retention, employee development, knowledge transfer, succession planning and ‘other’ if necessary.  In particular the impact of separations on the classification.  In alignment with the Workforce and Succession Plan Checklist | Text Only (RTF), in general, a relatively high Transfer Factor may signal a recruitment and/or retention risk in a classification, a relatively high Retention Factor may signal a retention risk, and a relatively high Retirement Factor may signal a succession planning risk.

Step 2: Present Gap Analysis Findings and Determine Priorities

To assist in determining priorities you’ll want to consider:

  • Which workforce gaps can be handled in a routine way with a minimum commitment of resources (e.g., continue the exam process that was successful in the past and is expected to meet anticipated needs)?
  • Of the remaining workforce needs, what is the benefit of addressing each?
  • What would be the impact of not addressing each?
  • Based on the benefits and impact identified above, what is the relative priority of each of the needs?
  • Have you received executive input in setting priorities?

Step 3: Develop Strategies

Brainstorm and prioritize solutions that resolve the major gaps identified. Solutions usually fall in the following broad categories (specific examples of each can be found on the Workforce Planning Toolkit):

  • Recruitment strategies—Strengthens the ability of the department to acquire the most qualified leadership talent.  For additional assistance developing recruitment strategies contact the Statewide Recruiter at
  • Retention strategies—Enhances workforce motivation, commitment, and performance around mission accomplishment.
  • Knowledge transfer strategies—Ensures critical knowledge is being captured and shared throughout the department.
  • Succession planning strategies—Develops a pipeline of potential candidates ready to fill key leadership positions.
  • Development/Learning strategies—Promotes development of competencies, exposure to more challenging experiences and broaden horizons outside the immediate department.
  • Organizational interventions such as redeployment of staff or reorganization.
  • Collaboration with other departments to see how they are addressing gaps. Teaming up may save money and time.

Succession Planning

Succession planning supports workforce planning by establishing a strong bench strength to ensure leadership continuity.  The process involves identifying and developing a talent pool with the potential to fill key leadership positions. A key leadership position describes a position held by an employee who maintains the influence to maximize the efforts of others towards achieving a goal that is critical to the department’s mission.  See the State of California Succession Planning Model for specific guidance on developing a succession plan.

Succession Planning Strategies

Departments may choose to apply succession planning strategies to any variety of positions which would benefit from a succession planning approach.

Succession planning is an approach which should be applied when a department wants to plan for leadership continuity.  For example, if a Career Executive Assignment (CEA) position has been identified as a key leadership position that supports a critical function, then feeder classifications reporting up to the CEA would be strong candidates for succession planning, as illustrated through the following procession of classifications: SSMII, would be developed to succeed → SSMIII, would be developed to succeed → CEA.

Knowledge Transfer

There are three major types of knowledge:

  1. Explicit knowledge—Concrete knowledge that can be easily recorded, such as processes and procedures.
  2. Tacit knowledge—Experience or observation that can be captured through relationships such as mentoring
  3. Institutional knowledge—Cultural understanding of the department (such as awareness of historical outcomes, expectations, internal politics, and other environmental factors) that can be captured through a combination of archives and sharing personal experience.

Barriers to Knowledge Transfer

When implementing succession planning and/or knowledge transfer strategies, the department’s leadership team should acknowledge and challenge common barriers to knowledge transfer with their employees, such as:

  • Difficulty communicating highly specialized knowledge/processes.
    • If necessary, managers and supervisors should assist employees in effective communication of the material.

    • Ensure employees receive sufficient time to train others with consideration to their ongoing responsibilities.

  • Organizational “silos” that block knowledge in one area of the department.

    • Emphasize common goal to support the department’s missions and goals.

    • Create opportunities to work across different areas in the department.

  • Knowledge hoarding.

    • Assure employees that their level of expertise will grow when they share their knowledge with others, which could increase their marketability while training others.

    • Encourage employees to engage in mutual knowledge sharing to increase their own breadth of knowledge.

  • Investment of time and effort.

    • Reframe the investment of time and effort  to show that having more than one employee able to perform a critical job function makes the employee’s job easier and less stressful.  Additionally, the more people that have knowledge of their function and processes, the greater understanding there is for the length of time or complexity involved in a process.     

While employees may not be aware of their own barriers, it is important to communicate these along with suggestions for alternative perspectives.

Step 4: Present Recommendations to Senior Leaders

In selecting the final recommendations, consider the following factors:

  • Time and resources required to successfully implement solutions.
  • Are there high visibility workforce challenges that can be successfully addressed with current time and resources.
  • Which recommendations will have the greatest impact.
  • If this is the first workforce plan, will a smaller undertaking be more appropriate to begin with to ensure successes and increase buy in for more aggressive future initiatives.
  • Are recommendations closely aligned with the department’s strategic objectives.

Step 5: Develop A Workforce Plan

The comprehensive workforce plan is a living document that is continuously assessed and revised.  The workforce plan should be an accessible, manageable document reflecting a realistic approach to addressing challenges in your departments workforce.  Additional guidance for organizing the workforce plan can be found in CalHR's Workforce Plan Template.

Step 6: Create An Action Plan

Develop a description and action plan for each strategy that includes: 

  • The gap and risk type it addresses.
  • General implementation steps.
  • Approximate completion date. 
  • Estimated budget & resources needed for implementation.
  • Acceptable timeline.
  • Defined performance measures/milestones and expected deliverables.
  • Person(s) responsible for the strategy and their roles and responsibilities in implementation.
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