By Lizzy Mottern, VP of Talent.

Transitions are part of every organization’s life cycle. The good news is they are incredible opportunities to rethink, adjust, and become even stronger. We join clients in times of transition in multiple ways: providing interim contractors through m+r interim solutions, helping boards find their next great leader through our Executive Search services, and providing counsel during succession planning, assessments, and strategic planning work.

Specific to staffing needs, moss+ross has provided temporary placements since our founding in 2009, and we formalized this service as our m+r interim solutions division in 2018. Our contractor database has a strong pool of 200+ highly-qualified, local nonprofit professionals who understand the Triangle and take great pride in adding value to the important work of nonprofits. These hand-picked contractors work side-by-side with clients, offering their professional experience as a member of the client’s team, and helping clients navigate transitions.

You may not know when a transition will happen, but you can plan for it with these key actions:

  1. Be flexible and embrace transitions as opportunities.  It might take a minute to wrap your mind around an upcoming, or unexpected departure, and you may have lots of questions. This is understandable, and we hope creative thinking follows: What kind of opportunity do we have to do things differently? How can we strengthen what works well in this position? Is there a slightly different skill set we should seek when hiring that will help us reach the next level in this work? Embrace transitions as opportunities to make adjustments to the job and become clear about the skill set you are seeking. 
  2. Support your team by communicating with them about an upcoming transition. Share plans for interim support, ways team members can step in to help, and a projected timeline to fill the position. Make sure your team knows you value them, their work, and their input during the process. Some staff members may appreciate the chance to grow in new areas by stepping up to help during a vacancy. Cross training staff in certain areas can also help prepare them for times of change. When we talk with clients who are planning for transitions, their biggest concern is making sure staff are supported.
  3. Identify priorities for a transition, even before a team member leaves, and identify staff and volunteers who will function as the transition team. Some priorities will be time-sensitive, while others may need to be put on hold. Having conversations about immediate needs is key in establishing a shared understanding of short-term priorities that support long-term goals. Other tasks will always emerge, as is the nature of a transition, and these can be incorporated into the plan as needed. Identifying priorities requires strong discipline and focus, and the resulting roadmap ensures the smooth flow of daily operations.
  4. Document processes, policies, and workflows in writing and place them in a location that can be easily accessed. This should be part of standard operations, and fits into the succession planning that would benefit all nonprofits. These tools will be a tremendous resource to the organization and anyone who steps in to provide short-term, temporary support. When you can provide someone with a clear outline of processes, deadlines, and expected outcomes, they can get to work quickly. Things to consider documenting include: annual strategic priorities, fundraising and marketing plans, passwords, development report templates, grant application and report timelines, key internal and external contacts, project outlines and timelines, and job descriptions.

Getting comfortable with transitions is critical in today’s environment. moss+ross can be your partner on the journey. Every day, we work at these intersections, listening to clients and working side-by-side to develop creative solutions for upcoming transitions. Call on us to help your organization become even better and stronger as you prepare to welcome new leaders.