Executive Recruitment and transition planning is not always thought of together. I was speaking to a Fortune 100 company executive who after several years with the organization announced their retirement. I asked how the company was planning for this change in leadership. They responded, “That process was defined in the first 90 days of when I took the job.”
That was a bit surprising to me and made me wonder how I might feel if I was just hired found out that my new employer was already planning for my departure? But truly, kudos to the company for thinking ahead to ensure continuity upon my ultimate departure. Having a plan of what needs to be done, when, and by whom is essential to ensuring a smooth transition. Executive recruitment and transition planning go together, providing a roadmap minimizing interruptions to the day to day operations of an organization. Succession planning and transition planning are two areas that every nonprofit organization should have on their annual “to do” list. Having these plans are essential for both the expected vacancies, such as retirements that provide several months lead time, and for the unexpected, such as the dismissal of the organization’s leader.
Once your leadership transition and succession plan has been establish, it should be reviewed every year by your board. Some questions to guide you in this review include: “What has changed in the past year? What contingencies are in place? Who will lead an unexpected departure? How will your clients, donors, community leaders, be impacted? How will you communicate these changes to these constituents? These are just a few of the questions to address.
As an executive leader it is your responsibility to leave the organization in the best way possible and you can accomplish that by making a successful transition part of your legacy. As a Board Member it’s your responsibility and obligation to the organization to hold the executive leadership accountable to create these plans. Think of it as your gift to the incoming leader. Do the organization a favor and start the process during executive recruitment and make transition planning a part of your annual board review process.