Succession planning for small organizations on a budget

Succession planning for small organizations on a budget

Whether you’re working for a small association or startup business, you may be facing some difficult choices (read: limitations) when it comes to financially investing in your organization’s future. However, succession planning is a critical component to any organization and should never go by the wayside. There are a number of ways to invest time and other resources into the sustainability of your organization.

One thing to keep in mind as you read through this blog post is that many of the strategies below are aimed at Gen Y and Gen Z. It hits on several stereotypes, and while they ring true for many of us and help to develop a strategy to try to anticipate how today’s association and employment landscape will change by 2025 (when 75 per cent of the workforce will be comprised of Gen Y and Gen Z), they don’t define us as a generation. At the end of the day there are always going to be professionals seeking to get involved, advance their careers, and give back!

That having being said, here are a few areas where you can focus your energies without breaking the bank.

Start at the source

First of all, consider where you are looking to recruit for your organization or membership. Connecting with post-secondary institutions is a great way to seek talented individuals. You will be connecting with the most eager students that are itching to get out there to start their careers. Developing a relationship with program coordinators will also be a reciprocal agreement – they’ll be able to recruit along with you, and may offer you opportunities to speak in front of a classroom. What better use of your time than to give your ‘elevator pitch’ to 20, 50 or 100 individuals at one time?

For associations, you can also consider creating a student member category for your membership, particularly if your membership is costly and could be seen as a deterring factor to students, and then begin to work on a member conversion plan for bringing them on as full members post-graduation.

Next, before you start developing your strategy, learn from the people you’re trying to recruit. Millennials are used to open and transparent conversations, so start by inviting them to your leadership meetings. It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many organizations will spend hours talking about how to recruit Gen Y and Gen Z with only Baby Boomers involved. I am not discrediting the valuable insights that seasoned professionals can provide in any way, however I think organizations that don’t go back to the source of their recruitment are missing a step.

What’s in it for them? How will they make a difference (and get recognized for it)?

Driven young professionals are prime candidates for future leadership positions within your organization, but they do not define themselves by their place of employment or the associations they join. They view themselves as their own distinctive brand, and they seek out opportunities to shape and develop their personal brand. They have a passion to change the world and are ready to take on the challenging aspects of making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Don’t have the funds for regular salary increases for your entry-level staff? Tap into their passion by tailoring your value proposition and finding alternative ways to recognize their achievements. The key to getting Millennials excited about your organization is making it clear to them what they will gain, such as:

  • How will this help them in their career? Promote tangible benefits such as networking opportunities or mentorship programs that will help them gain experience and make connections with job prospects.
  • How will this help them build their resume? Provide opportunities to get involved so that young employees or members don’t become frustrated. Give them something to put on their resumes to show they have gained industry knowledge and create a platform for them to promote themselves.
  • How will they make a difference? Organization leaders are responsible for delivering on the strategic plan to move the organizations forward, but how will every member on your team make a measurable contribution?
  • How will they have an opportunity to be innovative and creative? Challenging the status quo in search of a better process, presenting creative ideas and staying on top of industry trends are all part of what the millennial generation can bring to the table.
  • How will they be valued for their expertise and receive recognition? Give Millennials a platform to express their ideas and promote themselves as up and coming talent, and eventually experts in their industry, all in the name of helping to achieve your organization’s goals.

Embrace technology

Are you targeting tech-savvy, digital-obsessed, 140-character attention span individuals? Gen Z is the first demographic to have never known life without the Internet, so connecting online will be seen as a given. Organizations must speak the same language as Millennials and Gen Z. If you’re not on some form of social media with a presentable and reliable website, you have already lost the attention of a portion of this demographic. Your website needs to be visually appealing, easy to navigate and mobile-friendly.

When looking for quick hits and scrolling through a sea of tweets for information, clicking an inactive link, or a link to a site that is not mobile-friendly, Millennials are likely to simply close it and move on to the next available source. They are also likely to judge the credibility of an organization by its online presence and the structure of its website. How can an organization boast that it is on top of industry trends with an out-of-date website?

This last piece does involve some capital investment, however it will pay off in the long-run. If you’re not already on social media and using your accounts on a daily basis, implement a social media strategy or employ experts to take this on for you immediately. We are way passed simply having the accounts to say we’re on Twitter or LinkedIn. Not only are you joining the masses in a necessary part of any organization’s presence, you’re investing in an invaluable marketing and communications strategy. When a millennial is looking for more information about an organization, they’ll often use these channels to investigate further since they are platforms that they are a familiar with. Not only that, but if they plan on attending an event or join your organization, they may tweet about it.

Looking for more ideas on how to attract Gen-Y and Gen-Z to associations? Find out how Redstone is gets their foot in the door at association events.

About the author:

As Director, Association Management & Consulting Services at Redstone Agency Inc., Maddy has worked with over 20 not-for-profit organizations located in Canada and the United States as well as an international association. She is focused on ensuring her clients always receive advice based on best practices and brings a wealth of knowledge in membership engagement, CMS and website platforms, systems and processes management as well as change management. A bilingual member of the team, Maddy also has expertise in providing board and volunteer support and structuring the annual financial reporting systems of many organizations. Maddy has published articles on Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, green workplaces and taking control of workplace stress. Maddy was named a 2015 Top 40 Under 40 by the Association Forum of Chicagoland and USAE Weekly. This prestigious award recognizes 40 up-and-coming association and not-for-profit professionals who demonstrate high potential for success in leadership roles and exhibit a strong commitment to the association management profession. Maddy is also the 2014 recipient of the Donna Mary Shaw Award from the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE). It is awarded to individuals in the not-for-profit sector with a passion for management and mentoring. Maddy sits on CSAE’s Young Professionals Taskforce and is currently working towards completing her CAE designation.

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