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Succession planning is developing a plan for leadership transition. Leadership transition no matter how well planned or far away, creates anxiety and ambiguity. Those not involved in plan creation may be distracted by the uncertainty. How do you reassure them?

As a nonprofit leader, you know staff and fellow leaders not involved in the process have good ideas and potential solutions. How do you solicit these opinions and get the information you need?

While tackling a tough problem it is natural to channel as much energy as you can into solving it. There is only so much time and the work is tiring. Further, providing information prematurely is counterproductive. Is there time to provide updates? Can’t updates wait until more of the plan is completed?

Healthy organizations possess systematic avenues of communication. Leaders should evaluate and strengthening these methods before starting the succession planning process. They will be used at the beginning to seek committee members, throughout the planning process to solicit ideas and provide updates, and at the end to distribute the new plans.

Strong communication methods need to reach the entire organization including governing board, volunteers, middle management, and line staff at all locations. Leaders can’t assume communications methods work because they have the information they need or the organization is small.

How does the organization communicate? Is there a bulletin board in the break room with legal information on hiring and employee rights? Does the organization have regular all staff and department meetings? Is there an internal agency newsletter or list serve distributed to volunteers as well as staff. How does the agency use social media? Are there other methods the agency uses?

Organizations can evaluate and identify communication methods through a short anonymous survey distributed to all parts of the organization through Survey Monkey. In the next post, I will provide a survey template.

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