1. Activate your board. Set up committees to share the workload around the transition.  Make sure everyone knows what their duties are and who to report to.
    see Analyzing Boards (PDF)
  2. Communicate! Talk to staff about how communication will work in this time.  Let them know how the plan will be structured and what their role will be.  Listen to their concerns.  Talk to your stakeholders.  Show them you are in charge and are taking thoughtful action.
  3. Designate an interim or acting director. Regardless of the type of transition, someone needs to take over managing the day-to-day activities of the organization and needs to be in the office assuring everyone that things are progressing.
  4. Gather Information. Survey your outgoing director, staff, board members, and some key stakeholders about your organization.  This information will help you assess your organization’s strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and challenges, and will help you find the right leader to guide you into the future.
  5. Get a handle on your budget! One of the board committees needs to figure out what your financial picture looks like.  This includes cash flow using actuals and existing obligations.   Develop a budget for the transition process and figure out what you can offer a new director for salary and benefits and how that stacks up to comparable positions.
    see Budget (PDF)
  6. Step back and look at your organization’s goals, mission, programs, and direction.  Use the information you gathered to inform your conversations.   Develop a solid overview of the organization for the board.  It should include a complete financial and historical picture of the organization.  It should address challenges and opportunities, and areas of strength and weakness. The recent transition may be a direct effect of one of those areas of weakness.  Be honest about why this transition occurred.  If you have a problem with your board, staff, or organization, address it before hiring a new director.
    see Developing Objectives (PDF) and Organizational Assessment (PDF)
  7. Take the time to reflect on where you are and where you want to be. The whole board and staff should be part of this process.  Use all the information you’ve gathered to inform this process; hire a facilitator; take your time—even though you feel rushed.  Develop a realistic, achievable vision for your organization’s future.
  8. Once you have a vision for the future, you can map out the key qualifications and attributes you will require of your next leader to make that vision a reality.  Once you have a clear vision, you may need to survey the board and staff again to identify and prioritize skills needed to get from here to there.
    see Sample Survey for Identifying Key Qualities for the New Director (PDF)
  9. Hiring time.  Develop job descriptions, place ads, recruit applicants, interview, interview again, call references, get board approval, make an offer.
    see Job Descriptions (PDF) , Sample Interview Questions (PDF) and a Sample Interview Assessment (PDF)
  10. This is just the beginning! You may think you’re through, but this is just the beginning.  You will want to welcome them, get them started, set expectations, establish communication channels, give them room, and support them from here on out.