Transitioning a New Executive Director

General - Staff training session

If your board has just hired a brand new Executive Director for your camp, there will be a period of transition for the organization, staff and volunteers. In the best case scenario, your current director might be able to help you out with this before they move on and out of the position. Depending on how much notice they’ve given and the situation, they could be there when the new director arrives to show them a few things and give them a list of important tasks, dates, meetings, and show them around camp.

It’s important that all files and other important information the new director will need are easily accessible, up-to-date and clearly marked. If there is no cross-over between the new and old director, a board member or camp staff will have to meet with the new person and show them where to find important documents and other information they will need to do their job. This is also a good opportunity to give them a detailed and thorough tour of the camp.

Other things you’ll have to consider:

  • Who has signing authority for cheques?
  • Who will be speaking on behalf of the organization? Board members or the Executive Director?
  • How will the director authorize staff requests?

Spreading the Word

Your camper families, volunteers, seasonal staff, stakeholders and supporters will want to know about the new director. The board of directors for the camp should decide on a message to pass on to the public so that everyone is getting consistent information.

Funders, donors and stakeholders should be told personally of the transition. They might have a strong tie to the previous director or might appreciate learning of the organization’s change first-hand, rather than learning about it on social media or through the grapevine. Make sure your board calls these people or send out a letter or email to let them know about the transition and the plans the board has to make it smooth for the camp. Keeping them in the loop early is the best idea.

Transitioning Camp Staff

A new leader is a huge deal for camp staff. It could be upsetting and stressful for some of the staff members, especially if there is a gap with no leadership during the hiring process and staff are working overtime having to fill in where they can.

A board member should meet with the staff to explain the hiring process, tell them about the new director and give them details of the transition plan. This should happen as early as possible. Then when they actually meet the new Executive Director and they start to fill the position, things won’t be as much of a shock.

Setting Up the New Director for Success

There are things your board and staff can do to help ensure the new director makes a great first entrance! Here are some things you can put together for the new Executive Director:

  • A list of key stakeholders and who the director needs to meet with as soon as possible to introduce themselves and maintain relationships critical to the organization.
  • Put together a plan to help the person learn quickly and effectively. That means putting them in touch with board and staff members that can give them answers to questions and find the information that they need to start their new job.
  • A support person or persons the new director can talk to and receive good counsel. A board member would be a good choice for this role.
  • A list of goals for the camp. Example: Goals for capital campaigns, new programs, etc.
  • A literal to-do list for regular, daily tasks.

Learn more from this great resource “Leadership Transitions”.  

Categories: Human Resources