Officer Transitions

When your officer term has come to an end, how can you leave your position gracefully?  How can you ensure that the new officers are ready to continue to provide your organization with strong leadership? You can ensure the success of the future leaders and the organization by developing and using a leadership transition plan.

A leadership transition plan is simply written goals about how you will train and acclimate new group leaders.  It can be a very specific goal list or a few key training items.  The plan should have specific, measurable and realistic goals that are have a timeline.  (These goals are sometimes called SMART goals).

A good leadership transition plan will help minimize confusion that sometimes occurs with officer transition.

The process of transition will give outgoing leaders a sense of closure and help them support the new leaders.

Recognize & Encourage Emerging Leaders
To continue the success of your organization, student leaders should work with emerging leaders and develop a plan to ensure the success of the group after the current officers are gone.

  • Identify Emerging Leaders: Emerging leaders are key contributors to your organization.  These are the members that you've consistently counted on to get things done, help with unique situations, and assist new members.
  • Encourage Emerging Leaders: This could be through personal contact, skill development, delegation of responsibilities, shared benefits of leadership, and clarification of leader responsibilities.

New Leader Training
To continue the success of your organization, student leaders should develop plans to encourage new leaders to understand and take ownership of their new responsibilities.

  • Officer Transition Retreat: Holding an incoming & outgoing officer transition retreat will allow new leaders to gather the knowledge and information they need to be more successful in their position.  It will also allow old leaders to gain a sense of closure and understanding that the new officers can effectively fulfill their new responsibilities.  (See the retreat planning ideas earlier in this manual).
  • New Leader Success: By providing new leaders with resources, materials, and personal experiences, your group will ensure they are having a positive start to their new responsibilities.  
  • Key Learning Objectives:  When you begin to train new leaders, remember what information is important to transfer by thinking of your first few weeks as a leader: Share effective leadership qualities and skills, information you wish you had known, and information you were glad you did know.

Review Traditions With New Leaders
By sharing personal expertise, knowledge, and experience, you continue to build the knowledge and understanding of the leaders and assist them in being successful in the future.

  • Share group strengths and opportunities. Provide helpful ideas, procedures, and recommendations.
  • Write and share reports containing traditions, ideas for completed and continuing projects, and ideas/tasks still to be completed.
  • Review personal and organizational files together.
  • Familiarize new officers with the physical environment, supplies, and equipment.
  • Introduce related personnel (i.e. campus advisor, important contacts)

Review Organizational Structure With New Leaders
Reviewing organizational structure, goals, and accomplishments helps new student leaders understand more effective ways of completing tasks, maintaining standards, and holding members accountable.

  • Current constitution, bylaws, previous minutes, and reports
  • Officer description and role clarifications
  • Organizational goals and objectives
  • Reports on current projects and evaluation of previous projects
  • Resources, financial records, historical information, and any equipment

Leadership transitions ensure the valuable contributions of experienced leaders are utilized; sharing information with new leadership develops knowledge and confidence in their ability to be more effective in their roles.  By taking the time to familiarize new leaders with the organization, you continue to develop the forward momentum for your organization.