Succession Planning

A problem typically faced by sport clubs and associations is finding people to serve on the management committee or board. It's a problem that the general membership of organisations prefer not to know about. So long as there is a committee in place, there's no problem, and no need to worry!

But of course, there is a need to worry. It is certainly a problem for those on the committee who are faced with large amounts of work and very few people to share the workload.

Simple diagram to convey the management succession problem in organisations. Committees tend to follow a cyclical pattern of rise and fall in experience.

Efforts to recuit new board/committee members are often met with excuses such as "I don't have the time", thus showing no appreciation for those who do serve on committees also have no time. It's not really a case that a person has no time, but more a case that they do not want to give any time. Where's the community spirit gone these days?

It's also a problem not only for the committee member but also for the organisation itself. It is inevitable that committee/board members will only serve 2 - 3 years before stepping down or resigning. It is only fair that others should step in and take over.

In one particular case, the management committee of a soccer club were regarded as experienced managers of the club's affairs. The general membership were content with their leadership team. The committee had remained virtually unchanged for three years. However, beneath the surface, committee members were all faced with their own personal problems, which they did not want to share with one another. When one committee member plucked up courage to resign, it had a domino effect and a spate of resignations occurred in a two month period just before the annual general meeting.

Suddenly, the soccer club faced a major problem. There was no nomination for President, Vice-President, and Treasurer for the forthcoming AGM. Only the position of Secretary and four ordinary committee member positions were nominated for a committee which should have been 10 in number.

This is a classic problem of management succession. The health and vitality of management committees tend to be noticeably cyclical. As sure as night follows day, committees will gain strength and then grow weak as tiredness sets in.

So what can be done about this problem?

The main thing is to see it coming. The problem is highly predictable and inevitable!

So start to put strategies in place! Don't wait until the problem becomes evident, but start to identify potential committee people as soon as possible, even when the present committee look very safe.

Some strategies to consider:

  1. Change organisational policy, change the constitution if possible, to provide committee members with free membership and registration for themselves and family. A free membership is a very small sum of money compared to the hours of voluntary service provided by a committee member.
  2. Provide volunteers with funding for professional development e.g. funding for coaches to go on coaching courses, administrators to go conferences or training courses.
  3. Make sure voluntary personnel receive club polo shirts, tracksuits and other forms of clothing.
  4. Budget for special events especially for volunteers e.g. charter a fishing boat for a day, or go on a weekend retreat somewhere nice.
  5. Create and improve a volunteers awards scheme which provides recognition.


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