When I mention nonprofit succession planning to a room of Executive Directors, it usually results in a look of panic. No one wants to think about a beloved leader retiring or moving on to pursue a new opportunity.

Unfortunately, the reality is these things are life changes that occur on a regular basis. How many times have you been in a staff meeting when an announcement is made that a team member is moving on? It can immediately shift the energy in the room. Depending on the situation, you may have felt panic, fear, frustration, sadness, or even excitement. Succession planning is a way to mitigate the negative impacts of an announcement like this. Having a succession plan builds trust and confidence during transitions. Without pre-set succession planning, even the most successful nonprofit organizations have struggled because they did not have a plan to fill the void of a high-performing team member.

Here is everything you need to know about succession planning and the seven steps to success

What is Succession Planning?

Succession planning is identifying and developing suitable talent at your organization to fill the critical roles of leaders at all levels. The talent worthy of taking an advanced position in the organization is sought through succession planning. Succession planning allows you to be resilient during staff transitions ensuring that daily operations and long-term goals continue without interruption.

Steps to Succession Planning

Step #1- Always have a plan: It is crucial to keep organizational planning pre-designed when an irreplaceable employee in a leadership position leaves the company without advanced notice. The leave can significantly affect the regular operations, even if the employee leaving your company is planned.

Step #2- Pinpoint potential successors: Every team has members who work hard and want to see the company succeed. Find out the potential candidates who may be capable to fill in the lead role before the leader gives their resignation. Some things to consider:

Answering such questions will give you a better idea about your options without wasting the time of your organization.

Step #3- Inform the potential candidate: Inform the potential candidates about the role they will have to play. However, also tell them there are no guarantees, and the decision can change due to the candidate, the organization’s current position, and the current team lead.

Step #4- Set up professional development efforts: Even if the potential candidates you choose have most of the values a leader requires, they will need some mentorship. You can use role switches and nonprofit leadership development consulting services to help them get used to the new role.

Step #5- Do a trial run: Instead of waiting for the emergency to happen and finding out that your potential candidate cannot handle the advanced role, take a trial run. Appoint some duties of the leader to confirm the candidate’s skills. You can hire nonprofit leadership development consultants for help.

Step #6- Integrate recruiting efforts with organizational planning: The candidate you move to an advanced position may leave a talent gap required in their role. Identify it to include it in the requirements of your following hiring process.

Step #7- Help Select your successor: Succession planning may also involve helping to find your replacement. You may retire or leave the company, and someone will need to fill your position. Shortlist candidates who can undertake the duties you are responsible for.

If you want to talk more about succession planning or need some help crafting a succession plan that is specific to your organization, let’s chat!

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About Incite! Consulting

Incite! Consulting builds nonprofits from the inside out. Services include keynote speaking, professional development workshops, and coaching services. Kari is passionate about leadership, board engagement, supporting nonprofit executive directors, organizational storytelling, sustainable fundraising, and efficient, transparent business operation. For more information about our services or to discuss your nonprofit’s specific needs, call us at (844) 946-2483 or e-mail us or visit our website.