When creating a succession plan, the board needs to prepare for the four types of transitions described below:
Permanent Departure: A permanent departure – sometimes called a defined departure, is the resignation, termination, or retirement of the executive director.
Abrupt Departure: In my world view, an abrupt departure is any exit with less than a month’s notice, though only having one month to prepare for the departure of your executive director is not a lot of time.
Planned Departure: A planned departure is one with between one and nine months’ notice. As a general rule, I don’t suggest that an executive director announce their departure more than nine months in advance simply because chief executives do start to become lame ducks during the transition period. I know this from personal experience because I once gave ten months’ notice before leaving an executive director position. During my final few months, it was clear that the board, staff and funders were postponing big decisions until the next chief executive director started.
- Specifically, how does the executive ask for an extended absence?
- To who?
- What if they are unable to request a leave due to hospitalization?
- What criteria will the committee or board use to determine whether to grant an extended absence?
- How much time does the organization need to consider the request?
- What is the maximum amount of time the organization will approve?
- What is defined as an “emergency”?
- What if the chief executive wants a sabbatical?
- For planned departures, how much notice is the executive expected to give?
- What committee will be activated when a leave is requested or notice is given?
- How will communications be handled?
- Who will inform the staff in each of the four possible departures?
- Who will inform the media, funders, donors, and organizational partners?