c55f1328b8ed382aEvery organization will experience some amount of turnover with staff.  In 2008 Compdata Surveys indicated that non-profits had a 16.8% staff turnover rate.  Depending on the position, the staff’s experience and their connection to the community; the void they leave  can be difficult to fill.  This is especially evident when the personnel that departs is the Executive Director.  Regardless of if the Executive Director relinquishes their position on good terms or in a chaotic event; without a succession plan the board of directors, management and staff can be left with increased levels of stress and mounting questions of agency viability, all while trying to accomplish their basic daily duties.  This will be the first of a monthly series dedicated to topics related to board members titled Dear Board Member
One of the key characteristics that successful businesses have in common is their ability to plan for various situations.  They have a plan for a worst case scenario as well as a growth plan when things are going great.  Planning gives you the luxury of time to work on a protocol for an event before it actually occurs.  When an Executive Director leaves and you are forced to look at a critical situation very quickly; sometimes the solution you come up with is not the best solution.
As a board member you can use this as an opportunity to start a conversation with other board members regarding what you will need to do in order to have a succession plan in place at your organization.  You are probably aware of agencies who have had a successful succession plan and those who had no plan at all.  Organizations without a transition plan after an Executive Director has vacated their position are in danger of losing staff and volunteers and trust from constituents and the community.  Not having a succession plan can be very costly to your organization.
Whether transition in leadership is already a challenge for your organization or you are being proactive and have time to develop a plan, CALCASA can provide you with resources to be of assistance.  If you have experience or insight that can be beneficial to your peers regarding transition in leadership, please included the information in the comment box below.
Additional Resources
Leadership In Transition
Board Member Guide to Transition
Building Leaderful Organizations
Emergency Succession Planning
Succession Planning & Sustainability