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3 Steps to a Smooth Leadership Transition

You have a new team – now what?! 

Leading a Dance Marathon organization can be a daunting task, especially when you’re new to your position. One key to make things go a little easier, though, is a well-organized leadership transition process. Not sure where to start? Here are three steps to a smooth transition! 

Step One: Prepare in advance. 

Outgoing leadership team, this one’s for you! Your responsibilities to the organization aren’t over as soon as you finish total reveal during your Dance Marathon. It’s up to you to ensure that you pass your knowledge and expertise to the incoming leaders, and you’ll thank yourself later if you start preparing for this in advance. Long before you think about selecting next year’s team, it’s important for you to develop a transition plan and work on it throughout the year. This plan can be supported by materials like a transition manual (see this Terp Thon example in Dropboxor an overall SWOT analysis of the previous year. 

To develop a plan, start with your timeline. When will your transition manuals be completed? How much time do you need to collect applications and conduct interviews for next year’s board? Once they are selected, how much time will be needed for transition meetings (yes, meetings – plural)? And where does your Dance Marathon event fall on that timeline? Some teams transition before DM, while others do it after the big event. Whatever your timeline, make sure you leave a little breathing room before and after your Dance Marathon. 

Step Two: Host transition meetings. 

Transition meetings are an excellent opportunity for the ingoing and outgoing leadership teams to sit down together and transfer information. We recommend you start with a full-group meeting to allow for both large group discussion and 1:1 training. At this time the outgoing team should pass along all transition materials: transition manualsaccess and passwords to any email addresses, social media accounts, and other websites related to Dance Marathon; and contact information for all relevant partners or vendors. They should also walk through the main responsibilities of their position by semester (check out this example from Kent State University). 

To make the most of your meetings, consider having a series of discussion questions or prompts to keep the productive conversation flowing. Questions like What was the biggest challenge you faced this year, What campus/community partners are most important to work with, and How did you divide your time can lend great insight to a new board member (additional questions can be found here). You may consider having a follow-up meeting after the new board has had a chance to read their transition manuals so they can ask any follow-up questions. 

Step Three: New team… GO! 

After the new board has received all of the information, it’s important to set aside time to digest it. Each member of the team should review their transition documents and consider how they align with the goals of the organization and their personal goals for their position. As a group, the leadership team should meet to reflect on the information from the outgoing board and then use it as a reference when they cast vision and establish goals for the year ahead (check out our Dropbox for retreat planning materials).