Stagger Your Board Transitions to Improve Continuity and Decrease Stress
Board transitions are difficult. There are so many moving parts, so many things for your all-volunteer board to track, manage, and move forward, including chapter and board processes, procedures, and the responsibilities of individual board members.
A strong transition plan can help make a transition go more smoothly and deliver a change that’s far less noticeable by your members.
The first part of your transition plan should be to set the cadence of your transitions. Should you replace your entire board at the same time, or is it better to time it so only one or two new members come on at a time?
If you’re currently transitioning your entire board simultaneously, you could be:
- adding a lot of unnecessary stress to the process
- reducing the new board’s potential for success
- decreasing your members’ trust in the board’s ability to keep the chapter meeting their needs.
There are many benefits to bringing on a single board member at a time, including:
There’s no reason to start over from scratch with every transition. With the majority of your board staying, they can continue moving forward on the important projects and initiatives they’ve been working on.
There’s is a myth that when an entirely new board starts, they must demonstrate major change almost immediately. And that widely accepted illusion drives some boards to make changes with no regard for the changes and improvements that were made by the last board.
That individual doesn’t have to navigate the board, as well as their place on it, alone. They’ll glean a lot of knowledge and get a lot of support from the existing board, in addition to all they’ll learn from your documented processes and procedures. And, surrounded by these experienced individuals, they’ll get up to speed faster on the responsibilities of their role, as well as the board’s expectations, with board members available to assist and mentor and share their experience and expertise.
Information transfer is much less stressful. Your existing board knows how things work, and they understand the systems and processes being used. This includes those things that may never have been written down anywhere and could be lost with a whole board transition, like passwords, venue contacts, your tech support contact, etc., as well as all of those bigger things, like, for example, how you use your website to manage registration and payment for events and the upkeep of your sponsorship program.
Staggering your board transitions doesn’t mean that everything will be perfect and go exactly as planned. There may be complications and complexities that require clear communication and a lot of patience. This is just one step in many, on your path to ensuring that your board is as effective as it can be. But staggering makes a transition much easier to manage and less stressful for all of your board members, existing and new board, as well as your chapter at large.