Succession Planning Roadmap

A Succession Planning Roadmap

Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts/Lyrasis



Dream for a moment: If you won the lottery and left your job, who would be ready to take your place? Think back – have you ever stepped into a new role and found it hard to locate records, passwords, and other essential information? Do you wish you had more time to devote to succession planning and knowledge transfer?

The Cultural Stewardship Succession Planning Initiative is a two-year project of the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA), in partnership with Lyrasis, created to actively address the need for leadership development and knowledge transfer in the cultural heritage workforce. Funded by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the initiative has conducted extensive research and is building professional development resources for museum staff and volunteers. You can read about the project’s findings at Below, we share some of the key resources we have identified and developed to support more successful planning for staff transitions:

Consider these steps BEFORE the next transition occurs:

· Manage your Collections: It is important to have policies related to the long-term preservation of mission-based collections as well as the organization’s own business records. See Essential Plans, Policies and Procedures to learn about a variety of planning documents which can provide continuity and order to your collections. · Update Job Descriptions, Policies, and Logistics: Tools for hiring including a Job Analysis Template and RACI Chart can help you as you consider a staff structure that can support retention and succession planning. · Determine the Risks if you don’t do Succession Planning: See the Succession Risk Advocacy Matrix to help determine the impact of staff transition on your organization’s mission, revenue, expenses, and staff time – information that should catch the attention of organizational leadership.

· Work with your Board to get their support for succession planning and successful transitions: Use the 5 Key Questions Board Members Should Ask About Staff Succession Planning at a Board Meeting or Retreat to get your most important stakeholders to begin considering avenues for successful transitions.

· Develop a Knowledge Transfer Process: Institutionalize practices by which senior and departing staff can share work information and “corporate history” with those continuing at your organization. See the Cultural Succession Planning Bibliography for more information.

Take these important steps DURING a staff transition:

· Communicate about process: Talk with Staff, Board Members, Stakeholders, Partner Organizations, and your Community about the changes that are taking place at your organization. Transparency is important in times of uncertainty.

· Plan check-ins with staff throughout the process: The departure of a leader, particularly in smaller organizations, can often be traumatic for the staff that remain. Keeping staff informed is important in continuing organizational trust.

· Consider Doing Oral Histories with Senior Staff and Departing Staff: Interviews can be an effective way to capture information on projects and practices. See the Oral History Knowledge Transfer Guide for technical pointers to help start this type of program.

· Provide a way to find important information: Setting up and following a File Naming Protocol at your organization is an excellent step in avoiding loss of information; see the document File Naming Strategies to Aid in Succession Planning for tips on instituting naming protocols across your organization.

Use Lessons Learned GOING FORWARD:

· Hit the Ground Running Smart: New staff can consider initial activities dealing with people, policies, and priorities at your organization. See the 30-60-90 Day Calendar on the project website.

· Review your work: If you utilize some of these project tools, and document your procedures in succession planning, be sure to review documentation after each new hire and succession process.

· Succession Planning for Continued Success: One of the most oft-repeated pieces of advice that we heard during the project research was to make Succession Planning and Knowledge Transfer not just a one-time event, but a way of operating for your organization, to ensure smooth transitions and continued success. Build better documentation habits to ensure you are ready for the next – inevitable – staff transition.

For more information, and to learn about upcoming webinars and other training opportunities related to the Cultural Stewardship Succession Planning Initiative, contact Michelle Eisenberg at [email protected].

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