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Handbook for Student Organizations

Training Your Successors



Transition occurs within your executive board as well as your members. As membership changes, so do the officers. To make the transition as smooth as possible, allow ample time for your new officers to become acquainted with their positions before “throwing them to the wolves”. Perhaps your incoming executive board would benefit from a day-long retreat with the outgoing officers. Topics to cover should include goal-setting, question/answer periods, review of materials (handbooks, officer manuals, etc.), and  “how-to” discussion. Your group’s long-term success is only as good as your ability to train your members and successors. The time you take now will pay off in the months ahead. These points will assist you in training.

Good Position Descriptions

Pre-Job Training
Observing others doing the job
Learning organization — goals, structure, policies and procedures, history, etc.

On-the-Job Training
Extend and improve skills
Role playing
Skills workshops
Visual aids

Continuing Education

Benefits of a Leadership Transition Plan

  • Provides for a transfer of significant organizational knowledge.
    Your group will not have to reinvent the wheel each year.
  • Helps minimize the confusion that occurs with the “changing of the guard.”
    While new officers try to figure out what is going on, precious time can be lost to the organization.
  • This lag time affects the whole membership, who may not understand what all the confusion is about, and it definitely lessens the group’s ability to accomplish their tasks/goals and work on the visions.
  • Gives outgoing leaders a sense of having completed their jobs, a sense of closure.
  • It can help them let go — which is often a difficult thing for committed leaders to do. 
  • Ensures that the valuable contributions of the experienced leaders will be utilized.
  • They are often the most neglected members of your group.
  • The information that is shared with your new officers results in the new leadership having more knowledge and, consequently, greater confidence in their ability to be more effective in their roles.

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