A thorough and intentional Transition Plan will provide a chapter with continuity so that next year's officers can build on the knowledge gained rather than start from scratch. Below are transition suggestions - take the pieces that work for your chapter.
Encouraging Students to Apply for Positions
Outgoing officers should identify potential officers from the current membership. If the group is small, the present officers can divide the membership into groups of five to 10 people and spend a half-hour with each person. During this time, the officer can learn about the members’ interests, organizational aspirations, strengths, weaknesses, values, and needs. In addition, they can identify and explain the responsibilities of vacant positions.
If the group is too large for individual contact, other process may be used. For example, at an organizational meeting a month or two prior to nominations, officers can explain in detail the general structure, offices, and goals of the group. Current officers can be available to answer questions and to identify potential officers. A list of interested students’ names would be given to the chairperson or president. Then, the individual follow-up described above could be used.
After completing the individual discussion with the members, the outgoing officers should then compare notes. If there are many applicants interested in one position and none in another, based on the strength of the applications, one or more students may be persuaded to run for the other position.
General Tip: Tap your future leaders! Oftentimes students don't see themselves as potential officers until you suggest it.
Nominations and Elections
Some chapters will conduct officer elections during a meeting immediately following their spring initiation. Other chapters hold a separate meeting to conduct the election. Regardless of the method, it is helpful if new members have a chance to meet each other before voting on officers. Students can get to know one another during a social, perhaps in conjunction with a meeting. Criteria for selecting a balloting method should include the effect it may have on unsuccessful candidates. The secret ballot is preferable to a show-of-hands since peer pressure tends to be eliminated.
Not all chapters hold elections for officers. An alternative option is to appoint a nomination/selection committee. This is often made up of outgoing officers, junior and senior advisors, and the chapter advisor. Interested students can apply for an officer position, then the selection committee interviews each candidate and makes the decisions. This method can ensure the chapter ends up with effectively vetted officers, and reduces the risk of elections turning in to "popularity contests."
After elections or selections are made, it is crucial during officer transition that outgoing and incoming officers meet to pass on information and materials. Those being considered for office should agree to participate in post-election transition programs.
Tips for a Successful Transition
- Consider keeping exceptional officers as student advisors to mentor the new officers.
- Officer terms should provide at least one month of overlap so new officers can shadow and learn from the outgoing officers.
- When new officers have been elected, orient them together as a group with all the outgoing officers. Include the chapter advisor in this process as well. Try going on a retreat together. This process provides the new leaders with an opportunity to understand each other's roles and to start building their leadership team.Outgoing officers should openly share what they believe went well and what they would change if they had it to do over again.
- Make introductions to resources. Schedule time to walk around campus with the new officers and introduce them to important people who can serve as key resources (advisor’s office, student activities office, etc.).
- Recognize your outgoing officers. This could include certificates, gifts, thank-you cards, etc. Show your group that leaders are valued and an important part of your chapter.
- Introduce new officer(s) to the chapter advisor.
- Give contact information of all chapter leaders and advisor.
- Register your student organization with the student activities office. This is typically done annually.
- Give access and instructions to any online platforms, such as:
- Chapter Email
- Member listserv
- Social Media accounts
- Online document storage (such as Dropbox or Google Drive)
- MHS login information/passwords (the National Office can create a student account to assist in invitation management; email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a student account)
- Any other communication tool your club may utilize
- Explain how to reserve meeting/event space on campus for the year.
- Explain the relationship the chapter has with National Alpha Lambda Delta and any important information.
- Finish all correspondence that you can, and pass on any unfinished items to new officers.
Share ALL Documents
Sharing documents electronically allows new officers to easily make updates and changes. Hard copy binders are an option as well, but harder to pass along to future leaders or edit documents. Google Drive and/or Dropbox are two popular tools to help store documents online easily. Below are ideas of what to include:
- Mission, philosophy, goals and/or purpose of the organization
- Organization history
- Budgets/Financial reports
- Meeting minutes
- Any evaluations of events/programs
- Calendar of events and deadlines
- Officer position descriptions
- Committee position descriptions
- Organizational chart
- Election process and timeline
- Membership recruitment information and timeline
- List of members and their contact information (e-mail, phone number)
- Past Correspondence
- E-mails to the chapter/organization
- E-mails from the advisor with important information
- Special Events
- Event planning guide/checklist for any past events or programs
- Sample posters/flyers from past projects, old press releases, event approval process instructions, event planning guide, campus events contact list
- Copies of all chapter event materials (e.g., invitations, posters, awards)
- Student Activities Office and any other important campus office
- Chapter specific contacts (common vendors used)
- Logos (ALD crest, past events, etc.) See ALD’s Visual Identity Program
- Any past print publications, press releases
- Discuss the financial status of the organization.
- Review how membership fees are collected (do you use MHS?) and share your sources of income. Does the National Office send you a check? See Financial Matters Guide.
- If your chapter received student organization funding, share information and budget.
- Get new leadership on as signers on your bank account and remove old leadership; share any online passwords.
- Discuss any fundraising plans or goals.
- Pass along checkbook.
- Documents to share: Budget spreadsheet, past student organization funding applications, any approved budgets.
Pass Along Your Wisdom!
You may not see it as wisdom, but being in a position for a year (or whatever amount of time) is invaluable! You have learned important things along the way that can help future leaders. Mistakes, tips, tricks, ideas, and successes are all important things to share.
- Using the hindsight that you now have, identify the areas of responsibility, people, details, phone numbers, etc. that you wish someone had told you when you took office.
- Review the organization's constitution, by-laws, written material, and goals and outline any areas needing attention or revision.
- Do not “drop off the face of the earth;” be available for consultation or questions.
- Prepare an end-of-the-year report incorporating the organization's goals, activities, and accomplishments.
Other Information to Share
- Culture of the group
- Tips of running an effective meeting
- Ideas for improvement
- Recruitment ideas
- Fundraising ideas/projects
Another way to pass along your wisdom and give outgoing leaders a chance to reflect on their year is to ask yourself these questions:
1. What was the best experience in this position?
2. What was the most difficult?
3. What tips could you give to make things smoother?
4. Name the administrators/staff you found helpful.
5. What collaborations were successful?
6. List any projects or ideas you were developing that you would like to see continue.
7. If you could do it all over again, what would you change?
8. Name two things you wished you knew when you started.
Another idea is to participate in a shared reflection time with the outgoing and incoming officers to set goals for the upcoming year, while reviewing the success of previous set goals. This allows new leadership to take ownership over the chapter and sets them on a track that is realistic as well as relevant to the chapter.