I work with an all volunteer community coordinating and training organization. One of the challenges we are repeatedly faced with is the turn-over of coordinators, who serve for a period and then, due to various life circumstances, need to relinquish their leadership responsibilities. To be fair, the coordinating work is on top of all their other paying career work, school, and family life, so it is never an easy task to juggle.
When the coordinator then moves away or resigns, the existing coordinating team is then left to pick up the extra duties and much of the needed work is left undone. We go a few months, or even longer without the coordinator position filled or the duties carried out. Eventually, we will notice someone within the scope of activities who shows promise and then we’ll invite her or him to join the coordinating team.
We are learning two points in particular which warrant mention.
- Stagger incoming and outgoing coordinators. In other words, train your replacement. Each time we lose a coordinator, we go several months trying to find someone who has an acceptable amount of skills and qualities needed for the position. Instead of trying to find the perfect replacement, it is more expedient and effective, to TRAIN the perfect replacement. Tying accompaniment to the current coordinator’s duties ensures continuity of the activities carried out, and with minimal learning curve. The new replacement will be already up and running by the time the exiting coordinator leaves.
- Separate the duties from the position title. When initially training a new resource, start by delegating a task or two, and then gradually increase the responsibilities until the person is effectively carrying out the full scope of duties. Then, it is simply a matter of giving a name to what they are already doing. When we appoint people first, bestowing upon them the title and then give them a laundry list of everything for which they are responsible, they can get caught up with the title and a perceived sense of power, or feel overwhelmed by all that needs to be done which then paralyzes them.
Many non-profits and other entities are challenged to fine good leadership and these principles will likely be transferrable. Do you have any similar examples?