We have talked about succession planning before — how an executive director can assist the board in a transition to a new executive director. I’d like to drill down to a very specific role that the out-going ED plays — transitioning responsibilities and relationships to the new person filling that role. (And if the ED leaves against their will, the board and new ED must still do all these things.)
The first thing you need to know is that the world will not automatically change the name of the responsible person just because you announced your retirement and the new pick. You actually need to contact each of the places you access and make sure your successor can access them before you leave. Think of all your key responsibilities, and how the new ED can assume them.
Let’s start with money. Do you have access to read your QuickBooks reports on line? How about your bank statements? The website you use to draw down federal money? Your successor needs his/her own user name and password for each of these, and needs to know what duties are separated with other staff and board for good fiscal practice.
What about reporting access? Since your program progress reports (704 reports) are due this week, some of you discovered first hand how difficult it is to change the name of the person submitting the report. There are a number of centers, unfortunately, that haven’t submitted yet. I hope you have access, but if you don’t you need to start working on it NOW. You can start with the help desk on the site. If you are new, you also have to be approved to do this by your Project Officer at the Independent Living Administration. Many states also have an on-line submission of program information.
What is your access to community communication? Does the incoming ED have access to your website, your Facebook page, the Twitter feed and any other communication you are engaged in? It is good practice to send an email to key community contacts and give them the new ED’s name, phone number (even if it is the same) and email address. CC your new person, so they have all those addresses and can shoot out a greeting after they are in the position. Write a separate note with the information for your Board of Directors and another to all staff. While they all probably know, it gives everyone equal access to the contact information for the new person and makes a nice handoff as you exit.
Who else needs to know that the person in charge has changed? ILRU maintains a directory and would like to be informed when you change anything included in the directory, including the name and contact information of the Executive Director. Your Project Officer at ILA/ACL needs to know, as do any other funders for your organization.
The first time I served as an interim executive director, I spent the last few weeks writing down every single thing I needed to access. By making notes in real time, my list was quite comprehensive. Once the new person began working, I overlapped just a couple of days so that we could go through that long list (four typed pages in the end) of things they would need to know and got them set up on all the lists and websites with their own user name and password when applicable.