Being hired for any new position with an association management firm can be nerve-racking. But, temporarily replacing someone who will be returning from a leave of absence only adds to the anxiety. Association term positions are like trying to jump onto a moving train and then jumping right off again without having the train slow down or stop for you. Your goal is to make sure the transition is as flawless and seamless as possible and to ensure the quality of work stays consistent. You must be confident and comfortable with association members; thus, ensuring continuity within your new temporary role. This may seem challenging, but, with the timing of the transition, the training, and the resources given to you, this goal is much more attainable than one might think.
The transition into someone else’s role may feel like an intrusion. However, when a transition is done well, it will ease the mind of the previous association coordinator, as well as the minds of your members and board of directors. Depending on the first steps and scale of your role, you will likely be eventually taking over someone’s office space, workload, associations, and title. So, make sure to give yourself enough time to adjust to anything new that is being thrown your way.
Also, remember a slow transition is a seamless transition. The more steps the transition can be broken down into and the more time dedicated to it, the better. Make sure to give yourself enough time to familiarize yourself with all the associations; from their purpose, to the various board members, and the association members. You want to make sure the association understands they’re in good hands, and that the transition will not be affecting them. Try to strategize a training schedule that concludes at least one or two weeks before they go on leave. This will give yourself time to work independently, while still having access to them as a resource.
In the early stages of training, make sure you review all available manuals and tutorials to ensure you understand the work and different associations that you will be taking over. Starting a role in the association management world is a unique experience. For further insight on this, read my colleague’s blog. When training, I suggest writing down any questions that you may have as you go through the training literature and videos you may receive.
Often, the work of the person you will be filling in for has nailed their role down to a science and everything is second nature for them. These shortcuts to success will be obvious to them. And although this likely works great for them, some things may slip through the cracks when they are training you. It is important to ask the questions you wrote down so that you do not miss anything!
Ask any question you may have, even things that may seem obvious or easy. If it isn’t in any of the training manuals or association manuals then the answer might not be as obvious as you think.
Once you are further along in the training and have received more of the workload, likely within the last week or two, the person that you will be replacing should be used as a last resort. This is important since you want to make sure that once they are gone, you will be able to find the answers to your own questions and concerns. Using the training literature, your colleagues, and any other support given to you is key in becoming comfortable and independent in your new association role.
Any training you receive from the person you will be replacing is a great benefit. They know the ins and outs of the position. They often have many tips and tricks that they will be able to pass down to you. So, when it comes to the resources given, any literature, training manuals, association’s standard operating procedures and policies should all be read and re-read; most of the time any questions you have can be answered with the resources at your disposal.
Furthermore, colleagues are a fantastic resource to use. Going back to my first metaphor, it’s like they are the tracks the train runs on. They were there before you. Therefore, they know what is expected of someone in your position and they know the expectations of the members and board. Moreover, they will be there once the term ends to help the person you are replacing back into their role. If this is a resource you can use, take advantage of it!
Don’t forget that your predecessor has likely been in their role and with their associations for some time now. Do not expect them to be able to jump in without any hiccups. But, hopefully with the tools available to you, taking on an association term position can be seamless. By creating a realistic training schedule, asking questions and using the resources presented to you, you will be on track to a successful term position and transition.