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Passing the Baton: Student Organization Officer Transition

photo: runners passing a batonOne of the most difficult things that occur at the end of one term and the beginning of another is the transition between leaders.  What happened last year? Is your organization reinventing the wheel every year? A thorough Leadership Transition plan will provide an organization with continuity so that next year's officers can build on the knowledge gained rather than starting from ground zero. 

When Do You Start?...  Early!  Begin early in the year to identify emerging leaders.  Encourage these potential leaders through personal contact; help in developing skills, delegating responsibility to them, sharing with them the personal benefits of leadership, clarifying job responsibilities, letting them know that transition will be orderly and thorough, and last, modeling an open, encouraging leadership style.  Here are some ideas to help ensure that this transition occurs as smoothly as possible.

View the Student Organization Officer Transition presentation here!

cartoon: a pencil taking notes

Checklist of Suggested Tasks for Outgoing Officers

Guidelines for Preparing a Transition Binder

A binder can be a beneficial tool in orienting the new officers with all the functions and responsibilities of their positions.  It should cover all aspects of officer responsibilities and how those tasks fit into the organization's big picture.  Recommend that the new officers file "historical" documents in the binder (e.g., meeting minutes) when he/she has become comfortable with the information.  Then, the binder can be used as a working tool rather than something to be completed at the end of the year (usually during finals).  The new officers will thank you throughout the year.

a notebookWhat to Keep in the Transition Binder:

Checklist of Suggested Tasks for Incoming Officers

Benefits of a Successful Leadership Transition

  1. cartoon: a runner breaking the tape at the finish lineProvides for transfer of significant organizational knowledge.
  2. Minimizes the confusion of leadership changeover.
  3. Gives outgoing leaders a sense of closure.
  4. Utilizes the valuable contributions of experienced leaders.
  5. Helps incoming leadership absorb the special expertise of the outgoing leadership.
  6. Increases the knowledge and confidence of the new leadership.
  7. Minimizes the loss of momentum and accomplishment for the group.