Succession planning and finding talent.

My recent tour of Paisley Park, the home and recording studios of Prince, made me think of succession planning in the workplace. On one hand, Prince clearly had a vision for the future and opening Paisley Park to the public. On the other hand, he did not have a will, leaving his estate in limbo and even creating chaos. Organizations with thriving card programs want to sustain success and achieve future growth, but most do not plan for when a valued program manager changes jobs. Things can deteriorate quickly if the right person does not take over. Is your organization prepared to replace your Purchasing Card program manager if/when needed? Following are tips to keep your program going strong.

Ensure Your Organization Understands the Role

Managing a card program is a unique job. It includes: customer service, relationship building, data analysis, problem solving, training creation and delivery, writing, juggling multiple tasks, and so on. Learn more...

If it comes down to it, I think skills and personal qualities (like being a self-starter) can be more important than card-specific experience. It is easier to learn about the industry than suddenly transform into the type of multi-dimensional person required to advance a program. Visit the page on professional development

Identify and Address the Hurdles

Encourage your management to overcome any hurdles now. Which of the following pertain to your organization? 

  • There is a lack of internal talent suitable for the program manager role. Employees need opportunities (e.g., training, exposure to new tasks, etc.) to demonstrate whether they might be program manager candidates down the road. If this is not a viable option, then your organization needs to know where to look to find qualified candidates in the future. One option is the NAPCP Career Center because it caters to Commercial Card professionals.  
  • Your organization’s geographic location fails to draw in qualified business professionals. This problem goes beyond card program management. HR must have go-to solutions such as an enticing compensation package.
  • There is not a current, detailed job description for the card program manager. The short answer is to create or revise one ASAP, but do so thoughtfully. It can be beneficial to consult with the current program manager. However, management should first be clear on what they want or need, so they can tailor the job description accordingly. This leads to the next point.
  • Management does not know what they want or what they need to optimize the card program. They should consider their goals for the program and work from there (to ultimately create the right job description). Becoming more educated about Commercial Cards and what is possible can help, as can networking with peers outside the organization.
Consider the best qualities of the program manager who is leaving and try to find similar talents in a replacement.

Consider the best qualities of the program manager who is leaving and try to find similar talents in a replacement.

Final Thoughts

While there will never be another Prince in the music world, fortunately an organization can find a new, talented program manager. The key is to properly plan ahead. There is a risk in having an open position that cannot be filled in a timely manner. Not only could the program suffer, but the jobs of employees who are trying to cover the program can get neglected. 

If your organization needs help with anything related to the program manager position, please submit a contact form to learn how Recharged Education can add value. 

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About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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