You’ve invested your time and efforts in managing your PTA, all with the goal of improving the lives of children in your community. Now it’s time to pass on the torch – and all the knowledge you’ve gained – so that the future leaders and administrators of your organization can build upon the great work you’ve done. How can you set them up for success? Our 5 Keys to a Successful Officer Transition is what you need to know to make the most of this critical transition.
1. Demonstrate value
To get someone acclimated to a new role, you’ll need to go through their necessary tasks. For every specific skill or task to be instructed to your unit officers, explain first what it is you’re about to share. More importantly, explain why it is important for your PTA. Even seemingly menial tasks (such as setting up back-to-school registration packets) have high impact on achieving the unit's goals. Why are such tasks significant? How do they affect the overall success of the unit? It’s important to give a sense of the workflow (not necessarily the hierarchy) of the unit and the officer’s role within it.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
While demonstrating, use real-life examples that have been taken from day-to-day experience and practice, as well as visual references to give context. Provide simple instructions. Make it relatable and fun, and be sure to frequently check for questions.
2. Observe and adjust
You’ve provided the instructions. Now have your new board or incoming officer show you how to do it. The “Each One Teach One” principle applies here. As you’re observing, adjust the course when necessary. Encourage and empathize with them, keeping in mind that you were once new to the role as well.
3. Tailor the training
We all have our individual quirks, and personality will eventually be revealed, especially in the course of training. Make time to discover your officers’ own skills, unique experiences, and new strengths they bring to the unit. But be sure to recognize their different ways of learning, and be open to let them take ownership of their roles.
Grow your unit officers. Assign sample scenario tasks (e.g. planning an upcoming fundraising event, a membership drive, or volunteer opportunity) and see how they deliver. Let them own it. It’s like the bonsai trees in Mr. Miyagi’s workshop. You have strong roots and all kinds of cool branches.
Provide support and feedback. Work with each officer to set up short- and long-term goals for themselves and the unit, and make sure they know how to use the memberplanet tools available to them. On the feedback loop, too, show them what’s been done previously by the unit. Encourage them to find ways to innovate and improve efficiency while building on past successes in pursuit of the mission.
What if they suggest something you know will fail because they lack context? Before filling in the missing context or flat out saying 'no,' try asking about their perspective. Genuine curiosity goes a long way.
Successful learning is a two-way street, and hearing from those who are new to the scene will bolster your own knowledge and help you further educate them.
When your officers are confident that the outgoing board have their back and the PTA’s interests at heart, they’ll operate at peak productivity, and they will lead the rest of the unit in the way they’ve been instructed. It’s the best way to build a strong team and community.
“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”
Updated since original publication on 3/27/18.
PTA Simplified is a series of tips for PTA and PTO leaders to get the most out of managing their volunteer members and growing their membership all year long.