Executive transitions have three essential stages. Tom Adams dubbed these as prepare, pivot and thrive. In my last post, I focused on the first stage -- the things that you need to do to get ready.
When people think of leadership transitions, most often they think about the middle stage – the search for the new executive. And I will focus on that below. The third stage is crucially important to help a new executive succeed.
As part of the preparation, the organization needs to create a transition or search team. One of the first tasks is to create a position profile. When creating the job description, you will need to separate out what is essential to the leadership role and what was part of the last leader’s role simply because of their particular strengths and capacities.
The team will then need to start compiling outreach lists. You will also need to complete compensation research so that you set your salary range at a competitive rate. You may use salary surveys available from your field’s association. There are also consultants who specialize in this type of research who could provide support on this important task.
Many teams, especially larger organizations, choose to hire a search firm. A search firm can broaden your reach in terms of possible candidates. They often do much of the initial screening as well as guide your group through the search process.
Your team will need to do the typical steps of hiring including:
The entire search committee may not be involved in all of these steps. A smaller group could take on some of the initial tasks. Decide at which stage the full board will be brought into the process. Will the search committee offer one final candidate or will the board be part of interviewing the finalists?
Hiring your new leader
The executive director is the board’s only employee. The search committee will bring their final candidate or finalists to the board for its approval. A subgroup of the board should work on the details of the employment agreement. This group would likely benefit from the support and guidance of a lawyer.
While one group is negotiating details with the new leader another group could be working on planning for the arrival and orientation of the new executive director.
Throughout the process, the search committee and board will want to plan for communication with the rest of the organization. While they will not be able to share confidential details of who the candidates are, keeping stakeholders up to date on the group progress is important. This is especially important if you hit snags or parts of the process take longer than anticipated.
I will address the third stage – “thrive” – in the next post in this series.
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