By Karen Greve Milton, Senior Consultant
This is the first part of a three-part series on Executive Transitions
Ensuring a smooth transition when an Executive Director announces their departure is rarely easy, but it can be handled effectively and efficiently, leading the non-profit organization to hire a new executive who will lead the organization into the future. Whether or not your Executive Director is long-serving, the transition steps to hiring a new executive remain the same. For the sake of the discussion in this series, we will assume that the non-profit does not have a succession plan in place and therefore needs to hire someone from outside the non-profit to serve as the new Executive Director.
Form a Search Committee: The first step in this process is for the Board to form a Search Committee to oversee the search for the new Executive Director. The Search Committee should interview fellow Board members and key staff regarding their views of the current state of the non-profit: what is working well, what is not working well and what, in their view, should be changed. Board members and staff also should be asked for their views of the duties and responsibilities of the new Executive Director. This self-assessment exercise will help the Board develop a shared consensus on the future direction of the organization and define the skill-set, experience and characteristics needed in the new Executive Director. Remember, you are hiring a new leader to take your non-profit into the next chapter of its existence and that means you are seeking a new leader who will have the vision and requisite experience to lead your organization into the future.
The data collected from these interviews can then be used to draft a job description for the new Executive Director. The Search Committee should develop a hiring plan with a timeline to solicit applicants, interview applicants, hire and onboard the new Executive Director. This hiring plan should be presented and approved by the Board. Once the Board approves the hiring plan, the Search Committee should implement it so the hiring process gets underway as quickly as possible. The hiring process most likely will take six to nine months from the placement of the job announcement to the onboarding of the new Executive Director.
During the search process, the Board should ask key Board members or Committee Chairs to take on the task of overseeing key projects, programs or events that are underway or in the planning stages. These Board members should work with staff (and the Interim ED) to ensure that the organization continues to function, including carrying out fundraising efforts.
In part two of this series, we will discuss Appointing an Interim Executive Director
Let us know if we here at Danosky & Associates can assist you in your leadership transitions.