submitted by: Mary Ann W. Yonki,
Wilkes-Barre Library District Consultant,
Osterhout Free Library, North Branch
Strategies for Leadership Transition was the topic of the day on Saturday, September 24,2016 as Library Trustees from the Northeast, Wilkes-Barre and Pottsville Districts gathered for a workshop on preparing for the inevitable – loss of a director or key staff members. Presenter, Cindy Stewart, a Consultant for the Pennsylvania Association of Non-Profit Organizations (PANO), offered plenty of food for thought as she outlined the need for having done some solid planning before it is needed.
Among the many resources identified were the Succession Planning Readiness Test and the Close Down Schedule. The Readiness Test is meant to alert the board to current conditions at the library. It asks questions ranging from whether there is a strategic plan to some specifics of the board/executive relationship, and staff development. The Close Down Schedule is a brief document that outlines current projects, meetings, account passwords and other pertinent information that any key employee may be working on. Noting that lack of information often leads to failure in transition situations, it was suggested that such a document should be prepared and updated regularly by key employees so that in the event of an unplanned absence, colleagues will at least know what needs doing.
Other information or documents every board needs include a Search Strategy Plan that outlines composition of the search committee and how searches are conducted; an understanding of the institution’s culture and goals; future trends for the library and its users; staff strengths and weaknesses; position descriptions for key personnel and the role of the exiting employee in selection and training of a successor.
Participants left with a keen understanding of the need for advance planning to avoid confusion and failure when transitions are on the horizon. As evidenced from their evaluations, here are some of the things they will do when they return to their libraries:
- Will develop a written plan for transition situations by forming a committee of board members using the program booklet provided.
- Will identify and designate a staff person as proposed interim director in event of an emergency and will ensure he/she has the information needed to succeed.
- Will promote and use close down schedule to let others know what’s being worked on, relevant passwords and other information that would aid knowledge transfer.