Change is inevitable if not uncomfortable and when a nonprofit organization loses a staff member, especially in a leadership role. Navigating the vacancy while ‘keeping the lights on’ can be a tricky one. If an organization doesn’t manage such a change properly, it could result in lost partnerships or funding.
One of the most strategic actions an organization can take is to bring in an interim professional until the position can be filled. It is important to look at your interim staff in a way to help bridge those weeks or months in as seamless a way as possible.
Your interim will work with leadership to aid in establishing an environment of confidence that the organization will not suffer during the change and programming will continue ‘as usual’. It is critical that leadership review roles and responsibilities as they tie into the expectations during the term of the interim arrangement. Those agreements should also be conveyed, appropriately, to community partners, funders, and staff.
There are several main considerations when you look to hire an interim executive director:
- Having someone at the helm allows the board of directors to focus on a strong search process and prepare for the new hire’s role.
- An interim ED conveys stability during the transition and helps convey a strong message of effective leadership to staff, volunteers, program participants, donors, and funders.
- During the tenure of the interim ED, there is an opportunity for an unbiased evaluation of problematic systems and operations providing the path to make changes before the new hire arrives at the organization.
When you bring a professional interim on staff, it allows you to thoughtfully find your next person without rushing it along and ending up costing your organization more than necessary. It also offers the permanent hire a very favorable starting point when they come on board. An experienced interim professional can spend that transition time evaluating the organization and working on structural issues in advance of the hiring of that hiring.
Other interim professionals can help ease a transition as well including an interim development director or interim financial officer. The more important a position is to the organization, the more an interim professional is likely to aid in a smooth transition. A consultant who is familiar with these kinds of transitions may also be useful in a situation where the organization is thinking of adding a new position. A seasoned professional can set up systems so the organization can hire someone with less experience who can keep those systems operating.
The bottom-line is a strong one: by investing in a healthy and thoughtful transition plan with the help of interim staff, you ease the pain of change and set up a more favorable entry point for permanent staff.