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Mayes Wilson & Associates

6 ways leaders can prepare for staff changes

Sara Wilson, CPCC, ACC |

It’s spring and as an avid gardener I’m thinking about seasonal changes and starting to tend my garden. How are you tending to your organization in anticipation of inevitable staff changes?

Pause just for a minute. If your mindset was that staff changes could actually benefit your organization and were inevitable, what actions would you take?

Fact: change is inevitable. BoardSource recently reported that only 34 percent of nonprofits surveyed report that they have a written succession plan in place, yet half of all CEOs intend to leave their positions within the next five years.

To be prepared for change, you must plan for the change before it is a crisis. Here are 6 action steps leaders can take to prepare for changes in key staff or volunteer positions:

  1. Identify who will step in if the executive is suddenly unable to serve or departs. Discuss the role board members when there is no executive.
  2. Cross-train staff and key volunteers to minimize disruptions from unexpected changes.
  3. Identify each staff member’s current skills, aptitude and interest in advancement. Budget for professional development to build soft and hard skills. This will benefit the individual and the organization.
  4. Create a document with key information such as accounts, passwords, and emergency contacts.
  5. Document processes. Put critical information a new employee or key volunteer needs to know about a job in writing. Keep it current.
  6. Have the conversation about succession, at all levels, in the context of serving the mission and the organization.

In my next post I’ll write about board succession planning. Based on my conversations with clients, it’s a an important topic and sometimes a hot mess.

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