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Helping to Identify and Prepare New Volunteer Leaders

Dianna Gould, SPHR, CAE  10/12/2012
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All of us are aware of the major significance of training, mentoring and succession planning for our organizations. Then why would we not apply these same principles to the success of our professional organizations?  Who will fill our shoes?

Training is important and many times overlooked in volunteer associations. New leadership is expected to perform under "trial by fire." How and why things have been done in the past, however, is very important, and continuity is essential.

As we work within our committees during the year, we will become aware of the up-and-coming "stars" with whom we have accomplished much and who show potential for leadership. We should begin grooming these individuals immediately for positions that will be requiring new leadership. How?

  1. Create situations for past leaders to mentor and shadow present leaders.
  2. Have a potential new leader in the wings being trained for a year before stepping into a new role

SHRM provides various tools to assist in making transitions go more smoothly. The major ones are:

The SHRM National Leadership Conference, typically held in Washington, D.C., each November, is a powerful resource and training opportunity. The conference is very valuable in that leaders meet counterparts from around the country and develop relationships that aid in the essential ongoing mentoring process. There is no registration cost for certain leadership positions, and room rates are paid by SHRM.  

Online Volunteer Leaders' Resource Center . The online VLRC is SHRM's most comprehensive tool. This web site contains everything needed by chapters, state councils and members. Some of the items you will find are job descriptions for volunteer roles, approved logo graphics, general SHRM information, and a succession planning toolkit, a strategic planning toolkit and an orientation manual for new officers. Every association leader should know about the existence of this site and refer others to it.

Ø  Succession Planning Toolkit is chock full of great information, tools and resources to assist in your planning process

Ø   Fundamentals of Chapter Operations contains excellent tips on successful chapter operations and the services available from SHRM.

Ø  State Council & Chapter SHAPE (SHRM Affiliate Program for Excellence) is a step-by step guide for a chapter and state council's strategic planning activities. These plans provide effective management-by-objectives ideas for planning activities throughout the year

Ø  All of these publications can be ordered from SHRM at no charge, or they can be printed from the online Volunteer Leaders' Resource Center (VLRC) web site

        Ongoing support from your Field Services Directors and Regional Administrators.

       Most state councils around the country conduct statewide leadership conferences or strategic planning sessions, mirroring the SHRM conference, at the beginning of each year to continue the process of helping prepare future leaders.

If you take advantage of these training opportunities, continuously communicate, mentor upcoming leaders and use the tools available through SHRM, filling your shoes will be a walk in the park. And future leaders will be able to not only feel more confident in their new positions but also hit the road running much sooner.

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