Succession Planning – Part II

Nonprofit organizations are particularly known for doing their best to provide stellar services to those in need while working with limited funding and, often, fewer human resources than the typical for-profit company. It’s the nature of the business, as they say. While this may be true, philanthropic organizations still face the challenges that all organizations do – and a change in leadership is certain to be one of them, whether anticipated or not. Previously, we shared some thoughts on succession planning and offered tips on how to successfully transition new leaders into their positions. This month we want to take that a step farther and share ideas about the succession planning process, each with the intent to help your nonprofit to Prepare for Greatness™!

  • Succession planning should be just that – thoughtfully analyzed, planned for, and reviewed just as agencies do for budgeting, daily operations, and strategic planning, among others.
  • A short list of potential leadership successors should be developed based upon the ability to enhance and capitalize on individual strengths and effectively match the best candidate to the most appropriate position.
  • Give special attention to developing your organization’s group of talent; concentrating your valuable resources on educating and strengthening the skills of your agency’s leadership candidates will assist in building up an adequate reserve of exceptional contenders when the time arises.
  • When compiling your candidate list, be sure to consider challenges such as maintaining an adequate level of staff diversity, recruitment of a wide range of individuals who provide the skills your agency will need in the future, and long-term employee retention.
  • Incorporate various scenarios into your planning – while some vacancies are easily identified, i.e. your CEO is retiring, others are quite unexpected and often provide no advanced warning. With proper planning beforehand, the stress of selecting a replacement and transitioning that person into the job will be much easier to accomplish.
  • Consider whether placing an interim leader into a given position would be of greater benefit to your organization than placing someone in a position quickly just to get it filled. This is especially important for the highest-level positions in the agency where it may be beneficial to seek outside candidates for consideration.
  • Communication is key! Thoughtful and timely communication before, during, and after the transition of leadership positions will go a long way in supporting the success of both the individual and your organization as a whole so that the focus will remain on what you are all there to do – fulfill your mission of serving others.
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