Succession Management

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1 Succession Management

2 Introduction Over the next five to 10 years, shifting demographics and sectoral changes will result in significant turnover at the executive director and CEO level in the non-profit sector. As baby boomers reach retirement, it will have a major impact on the skills and experience available in the workforce, with senior and key positions becoming tougher to fill. This poses both a challenge and an opportunity, and makes succession management one of the most important human-resource practices for today s non-profit organizations. Effective succession management supports stability, sustainability and success by ensuring the organization enjoys continued access to the leadership it needs today and into the future. Despite its key role in organizational sustainability, succession management is an issue many organizations ignore. Because many non-profits consist of fewer than 10 employees, they often address the issue reactively in response to a sudden vacancy, for example rather than planning ahead for future needs. With careful planning and preparation, organizations can effectively manage the changes that result from a generational transfer of leadership as well as the ongoing changes that occur regularly when key employees leave an organization. There is no single best way to manage succession management. This toolkit addresses some of the unique circumstances and issues non-profit organizations face, and provides flexible tools that can be adapted to the distinctive culture, goals, outcomes and organizational contexts of your organization. NOTE: While the executive-director title is used as an example throughout these materials, the strategies are applicable to any senior staff person president, CEO, senior manager, general manager, etc. StepUp BC Succession Management 2

3 Define the role The first step in any succession management plan is to ensure you have a complete and up-to-date job description on file for every key role in your organization. To attract and identify potential successors for critical positions, you need to be able to communicate what the role entails and the knowledge, skills, competencies and experience required for success. The job description provides this information in a concise format. Ensuring that job descriptions are regularly updated and prepared prior to recruitment or promotions can ensure a smooth succession planning transition by clarifying the requirements of the role, guiding the recruiting and selection process, and providing the new hire with core information about the expectations, duties and responsibilities, and reporting structure of the job, as well as an overview of the organizational essentials, such as mission, vision, culture and brief history. >> SEE THE APPENDIX. You ll find a job-description template in the appendix that can be used to guide your succession-management efforts. This template is based on an executive-director role, but you can use the guidelines to develop a job description for any senior or executive role in your organization. This job description can be used in your recruitment efforts and kept on file for future performance reviews and management processes. StepUp BC Succession Management 3

4 Evaluate and plan In its simplest definition, succession management provides a plan and process for addressing the changes that occur when someone leaves. Most succession management plans focus on the most senior manager the executive director but all key positions should ideally be included in the plan. Key positions can be defined as those positions that are crucial for the operations of your organization and, because of the skill, seniority and experience required, will be hard to replace. Whenever size and resources permit, succession management should involve nurturing and developing employees from within an organization. Employees who are perceived to have the skills, knowledge, qualities, experience and the desire can be groomed to move up to fill specific, key positions. The succession management process involves: Determining a succession-management philosophy and approach for your organization Assessing their current and future needs based on either their strategic plan, goals and objectives, or priority programs and projects Matching these to the capabilities of the existing workforce Developing a plan to manage the gaps that will arise when individuals in key positions leave or are promoted Meeting future talent needs through training and development for existing staff as well as external recruitment Let s start with the first step: identifying the right approach. These guidelines will guide you through the process of creating an approach that fits the unique requirements of your organization. Once you ve completed the exercise, the document can be kept on file for future reference. Succession-management planning guidelines Context In this section, outline the context for creating a plan for succession management identifying the various groups that will be included. It is an expression of your organizational focus and philosophy on succession management. StepUp BC Succession Management 4

5 For example: Board: Our organization strives to build a strong board with good continuity of leadership, with a focus on educating about governance. To ensure an ability to think big-picture and be visionary, we recruit board members from other roles of engagement with our organization. Salaried Employees: Our organization leads employee hiring decisions with a philosophy to attract bright young minds that may only stay with us for 2 3 years. The size of the organization means there is little room for advancement because it is very flat. Our strategy is to create a desirable work place, and have the bright young minds for as long as their work is challenging. They may leave to learn more in an external role and then return later. Current Situation In this section, outline conditions or events that are likely to affect organizational strength. For example: 1. Board a. Board chair will be new in Require successor for March b. Vice Chair to be determined in 2014 c. Past Chairs All five are strong community leaders with other influential roles d. Potentially little board turnover this next year e. Treasurer vacancy for June Working on successor. 2. Salaried Employees a. ED Retiring late 2015 b. Associate ED stable and very strong in his role c. Leadership Team stable - two full-time and very strong in their roles. d. Additional Employees at different stages of development. Strong administrative component at the start of 2014 StepUp BC Succession Management 5

6 Potential Additions Keeping in mind that organizations are fluid and roles can change depending on strategic plans and priorities, it is useful to consider potential additions. In this section, outline potential growth, new roles or positions to be recruited. For example: 1. Board a. By spring of 2014, identify and recruit potential board members b. By fall of 2014, identify Vice Chair (or Co Vice-Chairs) - one (or both) who can move into Chair role in 2016 c. As our organization expands its geographic reach, consider board members from different geographic areas 2. Hire new CEO 3. Salaried Employees a. Additional Employees likely to hold steady b. Other addition of salaried employees to develop new programs if required StepUp BC Succession Management 6

7 Evaluate your internal capacity Once you ve established the context and focus for your succession-management plan, you can begin the more in-depth process of identifying your internal capacity (the people-power you already have in your organization) and your future needs. First, you need to review your organizational chart and evaluate whether logical career progressions exist within the organization. If they do not, consider whether roles can be redefined or responsibilities can be redistributed. This is an important conversation that involves many stakeholders, including the board, executive, and any persons who might be impacted by changes to the organizational chart. Next, you need to identify candidates who might be ready, willing or able to fill key positions. The ultimate goal of succession management is to ensure the organization s need for talent is met, whether by creating a match with the skills and aspirations of existing employees or where necessary by recruiting from outside. It s important to remember that executives and your board of directors might not have all the information necessary to determine whether people are ready, willing or able to fill key positions, so consider involving direct supervisors and even front-line staff in this process to ensure that all relevant information is considered. One strategy to gather this information is to allow candidates to self-select into the succession management program. You can do this by giving employees opportunities to express and document career aspirations as part of the performance review process. This also offers the added benefit of identifying candidates that may have otherwise been overlooked. The Succession Management Planning Worksheet below is designed to guide the process of evaluating your internal capacity. When you have completed the worksheet, you ll be able to clearly see where your organization has talent gaps, where there are opportunities to nurture talent into more senior roles, and which roles are at highest risk of going unfilled. Because organizations vary greatly in size and structure, you may need to adapt the Succession Management Planning Worksheet to fit your organization. For example, if your organization is large, you might use a separate worksheet for each program area or business function to help focus the exercise by organizing information around logical career paths. You might also consider adding different role categories than the ones offered in the template. For smaller organizations, you might find that classifying the roles into categories is not necessary, because there are so few roles. And organizations with five or fewer employees might find that it s not necessary to complete the table at all, but you might still use the column headings as a guide for questions to consider when evaluating the needs and capacity within your organization. StepUp BC Succession Management 7

8 >> SEE THE APPENDIX. You ll find a Succession Management Planning Worksheet in the appendix that can help guide your succession-management processes. It s a living document that needs to be updated at various intervals throughout the year in order to maintain its relevance. Ideally, you should update it annually and review it whenever a new employee is hired or an employee leaves the organization. Consider volunteer support Non-profit organizations are in a unique position to engage additional expertise and talent to fulfill their missions through volunteers. In the absence of a dedicated HR Director or Manager and rather than having to engage paid consultants for external expertise in HR related areas, one recommended approach is to engage volunteers who have specific skills and knowledge in various areas of HR management. In the area of succession management, you may consider engaging a specifically skilled volunteer (or knowledge philanthropist*) to provide you with professional expertise. This person can support you or your team and lead you through a process to develop a succession plan, recommend leadership development plans for current salaried employees or provide executive search expertise to recruit an ED or other key management position. Before you begin any volunteer recruitment process, the first step is a clear description of the skills, experience and expected deliverables you require for each role. Position descriptions improve your chances that the right volunteer with the right skills will apply. They also set clarity around required deliverables, improving successful execution by the volunteer. >> SEE THE APPENDIX. You ll find a skilled-volunteer template you can use to create a role description for any skilled volunteer position. You ll also find an skilledvolunteer example for a position description created by Vantage Point, a non-profit organization specializing in learning and professional development for non-profit executives. This position description was developed to engage an HR knowledge philanthropist in succession management. This resource is intended to help you access and engage human resource professionals in a voluntary capacity to plan and implement succession management plans/strategies in your organization. *A knowledge philanthropist is someone who lends her own specific knowledge, skills, assets and talent to a not-forprofit organization in order to work with them to achieve their mission. This kind of volunteer provides her brain and her head, rather than primarily her hands. Kelly, C., Gerty, L. (2013) The Abundant Not-For-Profit: How talent (not money) will transform your organization. Vantage Point, Vancouver BC. StepUp BC Succession Management 8

9 Establish a task force When your organization faces a current or projected talent shortage, one recommended approach for addressing the issue effectively is to establish a task force led by select members of your board of directors. In the event of a planned or unplanned vacancy, the task force is responsible for drawing up a plan of action and effectively communicating it to the rest of the staff as soon as possible. This demonstrates that the organization is taking decisive action and reassures employees and stakeholders that appropriate and swift measures are being taken to address the issue and ensure the organization continues to function smoothly and deliver service to its clients and the community. As part of their search for a new executive director (or any other level-level employee), the task force will need to answer a number of key hiring questions: Should we hire from within or look for an external candidate? Whether we hire internally or externally; what is the ideal position profile and description based on where we are as an organization today and where we are headed? What kind of impact will this change have on our capacity to deliver on our mandate and on our relationships with our clients, donors and volunteers? What do we tell our stakeholders? How do we proceed? The best way to create a plan of action and communicate effectively with employees, volunteers and other stakeholders is to draft the terms of reference. >> SEE THE APPENDIX. In the appendix, you ll find a search-board reference template that you can use to guide the task-force search efforts. Use it to identify the information you need to determine the roles, responsibilities and activities the search will require. Sample information has been included: replace this information with responses tailored to your organization s unique needs. StepUp BC Succession Management 9

10 Define the recruitment process With a task force and the terms of reference established, the recruitment process will need to be mapped out in detail. Before you begin the search, you ll need to establish the objectives and establish clear guidelines and timelines to keep the process on track. A recruitment and transition reference document is designed to identify these key elements of the recruitment process and ensure everyone involved in the process is in agreement about the best way forward. The document is also essential in coordinating the efforts of everyone involved including the task force, the board, external advisors and employees. Preparing this type of document in advance of any major changes to senior leadership ensures that the board and all stakeholders involved in the transition process are prepared to move quickly in the event of planned or emergency succession. >> SEE THE APPENDIX. You ll find a recruitment and transition template in the appendix that you can use to develop your own recruitment and transition reference document. Although this template addresses the recruitment and transition of the ED role, it can be adapted for different organizational structures and a variety of organizational roles. StepUp BC Succession Management 10

11 Onboard the new hire Once you ve found the right person to fill a senior role, it s important to have an onboarding and orientation process in place. There are two key documents that can help a new employee who is moving into an executive role get up to speed quickly: an onboarding checklist and a contingency inventory. Onboarding checklist The onboarding checklist is a document that outlines the major steps to be addressed during an employee onboarding for a particular position. Some of the information on the checklist will be relevant to all positions in the organization, and some will be relevant only to employees at the executive level. Information that is not relevant to a particular position can be removed or modified to be more relevant. For example, a front-line employee might not need to know specific financial details for the entire organization, but funding relationships and budgets for her particular program might be relevant. Be sure to partner with employees throughout the organization when developing the onboarding checklist to ensure that the new incumbent receives a well-rounded and thorough orientation. >>SEE THE APPENDIX. You ll find an onboarding checklist template in the appendix that you can adapt and use to ease the transition period for a new executive director or other senior staff member. This list may be used as a template and can easily be modified to address the organizational structure of a variety of not-for-profits or as an onboarding checklist for a variety of positions that may be staffed as a result of succession planning. Ensuring that the onboarding document is regularly updated and prepared prior to recruitment can ensure a smooth succession planning transition. StepUp BC Succession Management 11

12 Contingency Inventory The contingency inventory is essential to the transfer of key knowledge in your organization. It s a document that is updated regularly with critical information and made available to anyone at the senior leadership level. It provides a reference document for a variety of critical positions and ensures that important information is transmitted to employees who move into new positions through succession management processes. This information may also be required for a variety of other reasons, including unexpected employee departures. The ultimate goal of the contingency inventory is to improve institutional memory and to transfer organizational knowledge. One area that is often overlooked is how the work is done. This is especially important for front-line and mid-level positions where the majority of direct service (the work of the organization) is performed. For these types of positions, it might be necessary to supplement the contingency inventory with a procedures manual, so that business will continue as usual in the absence of a key individual. A contingency inventory isn t meant to replace other forms of skills transfer. One-onone coaching, on-the-job interaction, and discussion groups are also important strategies to help leaders and emerging leaders develop both soft skills and hard skills and to learn about experiences doing the work of the organization. Developmental assignments also provide employees with challenging work that facilitates learning, often while achieving organizational objectives. Large and complex organizations may find that they have too much information to fit into a single contingency inventory. In these cases, the responsibility for documenting certain types of knowledge can be delegated to supervisors and other staff. For example, supervisors might keep track of program-specific information, such as policies and procedures, contracts, fund development and grants, facilities management, and document security and passwords. Regularly updating this inventory on an annual basis ensures that critical information is easily accessible for senior leadership whenever required. >> SEE THE APPENDIX. You ll find a contingency inventory template in the appendix that can be adapted to variety of organizational structures and positions to facilitate the process of essential knowledge transfer. For shorter-term vacancies, remove the items that are not relevant to the position, or that apply to more than one position and are captured else-where. This will ensure that the Inventory is focused and the document will be more manageable for the successor to use. You may also consider adding sections that are relevant to a particular program or workgroup. For example, perhaps a schedule of important reporting dates would be helpful. StepUp BC Succession Management 12

13 Appendix Job-Description Template Executive Director Job Description [YOUR LOGO] Executive Director Job Description [DATE] Responsible to To whom will the Executive Director be accountable? In most cases, it is the Board of Directors. The Organization Spend a couple of pages describing in detail your organization s mission, vision, values, history, current state of affairs, and your culture. It s important to give potential candidates enough information to understand the context surrounding the role and for them to assess if their values and culture align with yours. Summary and Purpose Spend about a page outlining why your organization is searching for a new leader and at a high level, what you feel the next generation of leadership will do for your organization. Will they build on strong existing foundations? Or are you seeking someone to take the organization in a radical new direction? Based on the organization s current priorities, what are the essential attributes of the new leader? Some examples might include: Thinking and leading strategically Understanding the difference between leadership and management Strong financial manager Entrepreneurial mindset An eye for scalability StepUp BC Succession Management 13

14 Priorities and Expectations Think about the successful candidate s first six months in the role. What will they have accomplished? Drafting goals and outcomes up front will allow you to develop and evaluate the new executive director in the critical time of transition. Be sure to keep this list realistically manageable, and at a high level. This could be 4-6 bullet points on top goals and key areas of focus. Duties and Responsibilities What will be the ongoing responsibilities of the executive director? These are the dayto-day responsibilities required in the role outside of annual goals and priorities. They are also at a high-level. For example: Participate with the Board of Directors in developing a vision and strategic plan to guide the organization Oversee the efficient and effective day-to-day operation of the organization Work with the staff, Finance Committee, and the board in preparing a budget; see that the organization operates within budget guidelines. Accountable for the recruitment, management and ongoing development of salaried employees and knowledge philanthropists. The Candidate What skills, knowledge and experience are you looking for in the successful candidate? Are there a certain number of years experience required? A certain degree or designation? Contact Information Who can potential applicants contact for more information? What should candidates include in their application package? What is the ideal way to receive an application? StepUp BC Succession Management 14

15 Succession Management Planning Worksheet Guidelines for completing the Succession Management Planning Worksheet It is useful to have your organizational chart on hand for reference in completing this worksheet Begin by completing the first column (Role) before moving to the second column (current person) and continue filling in information until you reach and complete the last column (Development & Transition Steps). This is the easiest way to approach the worksheet as each column will inform the next. Once the worksheet has been completed review the table to identify empty boxes representing vacant positions or lack of successor. Colour code empty boxes as appropriate for easy reference. It is then suggested to colour code the Short-term status individuals for quick reference as to this person s readiness to move into a more senior role if the occasion suddenly arose (perhaps because the current employee won the lottery and has suddenly left). Using the colour coding that reference both vacancy and readiness identify positions requiring critical attention as well as employees requiring various degrees of development and transitioning processes. Identify the Action Required If possible link the actions to ongoing professional development for individual employees It can be useful to make a list of points that you interpret from the chart once it has been completed Please see the next page for an example of a completed worksheet. Note: This is a living document that is best updated at various intervals throughout the year in order to maintain its applicability. It is suggested to update it regularly on an annual basis as well as to review as well as use the document for reference on the following occasions: A new employee is hired An employee is promoted An employee is leaving or has left the organization A new position is created Strategic Planning is occurring StepUp BC Succession Management 15

16 Current Information Vacancy Impact/Risk Shortterm Status Longer-term Planning and Development Type of Role Role Current Person Impact of Vacancy Vacanc y Risk If current person wins the Lottery Development & Transition Steps Key Senior Leader Roles Key Operatio nal Roles Potential Internal Success ors Legend for anticipated ease of transition and development opportunities Easy Transition Minor Development Significant Development No Successor (High Risk) Roles that Require Attention Action Items: StepUp BC Succession Management 16

17 Interpreting the Chart: StepUp BC Succession Management 17

18 Worksheet Example Current Information Vacancy Impact/Risk Short-term Status Longer-term Planning and Development Type of Role Role Current Person Impact of Vacancy Vacancy Risk If current person wins the Lottery Development & Transition Steps CEO/ED/ President Diane HIGH LOW Sarah N/A V.P/ Assoc. ED/ Sarah MED LOW Kavita, Diane N/A Key Senior Leader Roles Director of Operations Director of Marketing Jane Kavita HIGH LOW LOW Gary Development plan for Gary LOW Andy Development plan for Andy Director of HR Thomas HIGH HIGH Jamie Begin transition process for Jamie to D of HR Director of Finance Hayan HIGH HIGH High Priority- create plan for external hire to be prepared when need arises Key Operational Roles Project Manager Program Manager Maureen Jamie LOW HIGH HIGH/ DEFINITE LOW Pam Carol Intensive development plan for Pam, ideally with input and transition planned with Maureen Given that Jamie is likely to transition to Director of HR, transitions can begin for Carol to PM position. Program Coordinator Carol Potential Internal Successors Communica tions Coordinator Customer Service Specialist Andy Pam, Operations Coordinator Gary Easy Transition Minor Development Significant Development No Successor (High Risk) Roles that Require Attention StepUp BC Succession Management 18

19 Action Required: 1. Director of Finance role, requires immediate plan 2. Director of Human Resources role, transition of promotions should begin 3. Project Manager role, development and transitions should be intensified Interpreting the Chart: Strong and stable senior leadership Current ED role is stable and lottery backup plan is stable Assoc. ED role is stable and lottery backup plan is stable Director of Operations role is currently stable but requires successor development to establish lottery backup Director of Communications role is stable, lottery backup plan is stable, longterm requires some thought Director of HR role has high likelihood of transition, lottery backup plan is stable, however development for successor is required Director of Finance role is in a critical state and requires discussions and planning for external succession Director of Community investment role is stable, lottery backup plan is stable, long-term require some thought Project Manager role, high likelihood of vacancy and development and transitions of successor should be a priority Program Manager role, high likelihood of vacancy given current person upcoming transition to Director of HR role. Transition should begin with successor for this role. Opportunity to review various coordinator roles to identify appropriateness of the role, responsibilities, etc. in anticipation of upcoming recruitment processes. StepUp BC Succession Management 19

20 Skilled-Volunteer Template Volunteer Position Description [YOUR LOGO] Position Title Volunteer Position Description [DATE] Link to the Mission: State the mission of your organization and how this person will contribute to it. Even if your mission is disconnected from the position (i.e. no direct client interaction), all volunteers are connected to the efficiency and thus effectiveness of your organization. Make it clear why this role is important to the greater cause. Qualifications: List: Experience level Specific skill sets, and direct experience Personal qualities Preferred talents you require for this position Include: An interest and commitment to the not-for-profit sector Time Commitment: Clearly outline how many hours over what time period you would like the role to last. Be as specific as possible about when and where the hours are to be executed. If you are flexible, highlight your ideal scenario and mention that you have flexibility. Indicate if some of the work can be done from home. Deliverables: Be very specific about the tangible outputs you expect and list them individually. Think about this as project planning outline the steps required for the volunteer to successfully complete the project/role. StepUp BC Succession Management 20

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