There comes a time for every organization when the officers and members leave.  The transition to a new group can be traumatic and difficult for the organization.

The key to an effective transitional period is good communication.  Good organizations plan for transition – new officers are trained and prepared for the roles they will be filling.  Think back to when you first became a leader in your organization.  You were probably nervous, excited, full of questions, and perhaps a bit intimidated.  Wouldn't it have been nice to have an experienced leader to ask questions of and get suggestions from?

Here are some suggestions for making the transition period a positive one for the incoming and outgoing leaders:

  • Set aside a time for incoming and outgoing leaders to meet.  Use this time as an orientation to filing systems, records, names of contacts, office supplies, etc.  Introduce the new leaders to any people they'll be working with closely.
  • Discuss past, present, and on-going projects.  Share information about what has worked and what hasn’t.  Include ideas and suggestions that may be helpful in the future.  If your transition occurs between semesters, devote more time to getting acquainted with current members and leaders.
  • Prepare a reference/orientation packet or job description.  In addition to other relevant information, include a short written report by each of the officers describing their roles, responsibilities and specific duties.  A number of organizations have begun keeping a “how to” notebook for major projects and programs.
  • Have the new executive board conduct the final two or three meetings of the semester.  This will help them get experience, gain credibility with the group and receive feedback from the outgoing executives.
  • The transition period presents some logistics challenges, too.  Where checkbooks and bank statements will be stored should be known to members.  Over the summer or at the end of the winter semester, recruitment and activities such as Orientation and Fall Fest should be organized.

The most important thing to remember is that outgoing leaders need to provide guidance to the new officers.  This is a chance to insure continuing success of the group and share some experienced leaders’ expertise.