Who’s Up Next?

There’s a lot of talk about leadership succession planning for chapters. It regularly comes up as the top 1 or 2 pain points for chapters. Most associations provide a succession planning guide and tools for chapters. Many offer training at the chapter leadership conferences and webinars. So what’s missing here? If we’re doing all this talking, why is still the pain point?

Could it be that all this talk is missing the point? That these tools don’t get to the point?

I looked at the succession planning tools provided by four national associations for their chapters. And yes, they are missing the point … it’s not succession planning, its succession management. This is not a linear process with a starting point and an end point. And it’s not about filling positions. It should be about an ongoing focus on developing leaders.

By reducing this conversation to a “who’s up next?’ search to filling positions, we’re missing the point entirely. And by giving our chapters lengthy plans and detailed charts, we’re directing energy to paperwork rather than creating relationships.

My suggestion is simply that we step back and tell our chapters that succession planning isn’t planning. It is creating a culture of service and leadership in our organizations. It is getting to know our members and engaging them in the work — and fun — of the chapter. Two strategies that will help build this culture are:

(1) Engage members … talk about engaging first, volunteering comes next. Plug members in from the beginning (or at renewal if you’re starting this now) by asking them (a) why they are involved and (b) what types of skill sets are they looking to develop or activities they would enjoy being involved in. The goal is to help your member create an individual engagement plan.

(2) Create a Volunteer Team … this is your HR team that actively seeks “talent” and matches them to jobs. The team can be led by a “coordinator” and have a team of “talent scouts.” The goal is to develop a talent pool and a “pool of activities”. This pool of activities should include big and small jobs. It should offer variety. The focus is on connecting members.

Let’s change the conversation…