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Three Phases of Executive Transition

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Executive transitions pass through three distinct phases, each building on the one before. Following are key issues faced by nonprofits during each of these phases.

Phase I: Getting Ready
Deciding short-term who's in charge of what
Assessing organization priorities and health
Hiring interim manager, particularly if not ready to hire or in crisis
Developing profile of new executive attributes, knowledge, skills
Setting a competitive compensation strategy
Saying an appropriate good to your departing executive
Understanding and dealing with departing executive's legacy
Phase II: Recruiting
Agreeing on a recruitment strategy, including diversity outreach
Proactively seeking candidates
Screening and ranking candidates against profile
Completing thorough reference checks before final interviews or selection
Spending informal time with finalists and introducing to key stakeholders
Selecting and negotiating
Having a back-up plan if first candidate declines
Completing letter of appointment
Phase III: Post-Hire
Welcoming and introducing new executive
Orienting new executive to organization and community
Making agreements between board and new executive on three- and six-month work plan
Agreeing on executive evaluation process
Executive development planning by new executive with board support
Agreeing on when to revisit strategic plan and direction of organization
Rushing to hire
Making hasty decisions with out assessing needs
Becoming frozen and indecisive: too much process
Employing overly rational process that ignores feelings of loss, anger, etc.
Underestimating time and help required
Not asking for help when needed
Denying real condition of organization
Recruiting too soon
Misreading needs of the organization; attempting to hire executive exactly like (or opposite) departing executive
Hiring an inappropriate interim manager, often someone liked and admired on staff or board but not experienced in what's needed
Advertising a non-competitive salary, limiting applicant pool
Expecting a diverse pool with out outreach and networking
Getting buried in resumes and process with inadequate systems
Appointing "obvious successor" with insufficient thought or checking
Doing reference checks too late to influence finalist selection
Appointing a new executive with board divided on decision
Not fully disclosing to finalist condition of organization and first year expectations
Not welcoming or introducing new executive to community
Succumbing to exhaustion and abandoning new executive during first 30-60 days
Micromanaging
Giving insufficient priority to shifting roles and relationship building in first month
New executive becoming overwhelmed, ignoring board and stakeholder relation ships, staff or administration; having difficulty in balancing all three
Curtailing surprises for new executive and board
Paying no attention to work plans or evaluation system

Phase I: Getting Ready

   Deciding short-term who’s in charge of what

   Assessing organization priorities and health

   Hiring interim manager, particularly if not ready to hire or in crisis

   Developing profile of new executive attributes, knowledge, skills

   Setting a competitive compensation strategy

   Saying an appropriate good to your departing executive

   Understanding and dealing with departing executi

Phase I: Getting Ready

Deciding short-term who’s in charge of what

Assessing organization priorities and health

Hiring interim manager, particularly if not ready to hire or in crisis

Developing profile of new executive attributes, knowledge, skills

Setting a competitive compensation strategy

Saying an appropriate good to your departing executive

Understanding and dealing with departing executive’s legacy

ve’s legacy

 

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Succession and Sustainability Planning for Nonprofit Founders & Long-Term Executives

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