Succession, Election & Changing Committees

Developing a succession plan involves the Committee regularly reviewing what it needs and planning recruitment. It may be in the quarter before an AGM or six monthly, as well as in the event of an unplanned retirement or exit.

Changing Committees and Induction

The Committee structure and how change is organised will be determined by the nature of your club. Changes usually occur through annual election and resignations. Whatever the reason, the loss of experience can be disruptive but also viewed as positive e.g. fresh enthusiasm, increased expertise and new ideas. Some clubs operate a rolling Committee structure to avoid mass exit of members and vast loss of knowledge. In this approach, a number of Committee members stand down after a set period to enable fresh input from newly elected members. Even in this manner important knowledge can be lost unless the club is careful about the sequence and timing of the process.

An example of a rolling Committee could be:

 Position  In  Out  In  Out
President 2000                  2002                  2003                  2005                 
Secretary                  2001                  2003                  2004                  2006                 
Volunteer Coordinator                  2002                  2004                  2005                  2007                 
Treasurer                  2003                  2005                  2006                  2008                 
Previous Committee members should pass on as much knowledge as possible to their replacement. This will help new members to understand their specific role and how the Committee functions. This approach is supported by keeping accurate and up-to-date records of all information relevant to particular roles. New members can also use previous minutes to become informed about past decisions of the Committee. The change process can be better managed by including an induction process for new members.

Handover / Induction procedures

New Committee members should be informed by written position descriptions about their roles and responsibilities. Briefings from the previous office holder are important to clarify these roles.

A senior official should brief the new Committee members about the club, its history and plans for the future.

All new Committee Members need to be supported in their role and acknowledged for their contribution.

New Committee members should be welcomed and encouraged to contribute. They need access to a past official who can answer questions on how the club works.

New Committee members need to know where the club's documents are and should be provided with copies of key items e.g. Constitution, Minutes, previous Annual Report, and the Committee Charter.

Planning the Election

The rules - as stated in the constitution - dictate how the Committee should function, how it is elected or appointed, meeting requirements, member terms, and who is eligible to serve. In most clubs, Committees are elected/appointed at the AGM. Nominations should be called for and made in writing well in advance of the AGM. This will require ‘head hunting’ to get the numbers and the right mix of motivations, skills and experiences needed to be represented on the Committee. In recruiting, members should consider how representative the Committee is and try to ensure that the Committee’s composition balances the different sections of the club, age, gender, and ethnic and cultural background. It is worth undertaking recruitment well before the AGM and advertising that positions have been filled as a means of getting more members to attend. Some members won't attend an AGM if there is a fear of getting ‘roped in’ on the day.

The Election

If the club is serious about ensuring smooth transitions and maintaining effective Committee functioning, the election must be carefully planned. Key elements of successful elections include: 

  1. Making members aware of the importance of the election well in advance via a newsletter / email outlining the positions available and the responsibilities. Following up before the election, to boost nominations.
  2. Contact ing individuals that seem suitable for a particular position well in advance.
  3. Inviting members interested in standing for office to attend open Committee meetings so they can see how the Committee functions.
  4. Allowing members to nominate themselves so that everyone has a chance to stand regardless of whether they are asked.
  5. Keeping track of the nominations in case it is necessary to approach suitable people who have not put their names forward for whatever reason.
  6. If there is more than one nomination for a position, setting aside time for candidates to talk for two to three minutes at the AGM. The talk could cover past experience, the candidate’s vision for the club and any special skills/experience they might offer.
  7. Given that it is unlikely that people interested to support the club would be turned down – establishing other positions or breakdowns that could involve anyone showing interest.

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