Half of USPS Executives Will be Retirement Eligible in Three Years

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

The U.S. Postal Service will soon have to replace a large number of its executives, according to a new audit, and it could be doing a better job cultivating its leadership pipeline.

USPS’ Corporate Succession Planning program has identified many best practices, the agency’s inspector general found. Many managers, however, were not properly prioritizing the initiative, leading to employees who are ill prepared to fill in leadership positions.

The development program aims to detect top performers and mentor them into upcoming vacancies. More than one in three USPS executives were eligible to retire in fiscal 2012, and that number will grow to nearly half of all top supervisors by 2017. The agency has succeeded in providing active support to potential successors, connecting them to strategic planning, searching early and often for top talent, and addressing challenges such as diversity and retention.

In some instances, however, managers were not paying enough attention to their mentees. About 17 percent of managers were not approving their potential successors’ development activities, the IG found.

The age of the potential successors themselves presented another issue with the program, according to the report. Three in 10 are eligible to retire today and nearly three in four will be eligible in the next seven years.

The Postal Service generally assesses the state of its leadership pipeline every two years, but decided in January to conduct a review halfway through the current cycle so it could “make appropriate adjustments” to address retirement concerns. USPS also agreed with an IG recommendation to put greater controls on managers to ensure they track and approve their potential replacements’ development plans “in a timely manner.” 

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