Start Your Next Board Transition Now
Turnover happens on every board. Volunteer board members step down from their posts due to burnout or shifting priorities.
Whatever the reason, the person who has left their position doesn’t have the interest or bandwidth to train their replacement. They may even feel like they no longer “owe” anything to the association after all the volunteer time and energy they’ve contributed so far.
Having the outgoing board volunteer do much more than turn over documents at the time of transition can feel like asking a lot. It would be more comfortable for everyone if you could send them off with a big “thank you” instead of feeling guilty.
That’s why your association chapter should always be in the process of training the next generation of board volunteers.
The key isn’t to figure out how to prevent turnover, but rather how to be prepared for it.
By taking the following actions, your organization will be prepared when someone does leave their volunteer board position.
Identify members who consistently attend and participate – Every association chapter has some members that do more than just show up. They ask questions. They seek out opportunities. Know who these members are so you can always be filling up your volunteer board pipeline.
Set them up with an existing board member as a mentor – Exiting board members are excited and engaged, and are still motivated to train their successors. New volunteers feel overwhelmed and often don’t know enough yet to even know what to ask.
For this reason, it is best to start the knowledge transfer long before it is actually needed.
Consider setting up a mentoring program, where board members are essentially training their successors in real time. Another way to integrate them in is through joining chapter committees as a training ground.
If mentoring is not an option, your association should have written process guidelines documenting the tasks of each board member.
Repeatedly share the value of being a board member to entice members – Keep members aware of “what’s in it for me.” Volunteering may not provide monetary compensation, but there are definitely rewards. Make sure prospective volunteers are aware of the many ways serving as a volunteer can help them as professionals. Developing leadership skills and building relationships with others in the industry are just two of the benefits.
Invite members to board meetings - Don’t restrict your board meetings to only board members (unless you are discussing strict private matters). Encouraging members to attend will expose them to how the board meetings work and how board members shape the organization’s strategy.
The time to train new volunteer board members is long before you need them.
How is your association training the next group of leaders?
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