Assess the Skills Gap and Identify Potential Successors

You should now have a good idea what positions you see as vital for the future success of your club and what skills and expertise are required to fill these positions. Now, it is essential to identify whether your current volunteers possess these skills and expertise or whether skills gaps exist; in which case you will need to train and develop certain club volunteers to allow them to step in to the role or alternatively recruit new volunteers with the appropriate expertise. Whether they are existing volunteers or whether you have to recruit new volunteers, the club must begin to identify individuals who could step in to the roles when current volunteers leave.

Assess Existing Volunteers’ Skills

The first step is figuring out what skills, experience or relevant qualities existing volunteers might have. Think about your current volunteers. Even though you may not have considered someone a good fit for the Treasurer role because they have always been involved on the coaching side of things, perhaps they run a small business and would have great skills to manage the club’s financial needs. Or perhaps another volunteer who has always been team manager is very well organised, particularly good with young people and well liked by many club members. This could translate in to having the right skills to be the Volunteer Coordinator or Youth Coordinator. The point is that you need to identify the expertise and valuable qualities of your existing volunteers in case this fits well with one of your critical roles identified in Step 1. If you are not aware of your volunteer’s skills and experience, why not ask them to complete the Audit Volunteer Skills (33 KB). This may identify expertise you didn’t know they had.

Identify Potential Successors

Refer to the position descriptions  you created in Step 2. Try to match the skills, characteristics and expertise of volunteers or members of your club with those outlined in the position descriptions of your club’s critical roles. Use the Table – Volunteer Skills (34 KB) to identify potential successors.

Once you have identified which volunteers match up with which positions, it is also necessary to think about the following:

    • Who has done good work in the past?
    • Who has the qualities that fit well within our club?
    • Who is a fast learner and easily adaptable to change?
    • Who do you see as the leaders of the future in your club?
    • How can we create a diverse volunteer base?
    • Which volunteers have received positive feedback in the past?

These questions will help you distinguish between two potential successors with the same skill level or perhaps justify the placement of a volunteer who may not currently have the skills but demonstrates the potential to learn the skills quickly.

Now you should have an idea of whether you can fill the critical roles with existing club volunteers. You may also have identified some skills or knowledge gaps where your current volunteers simply do not have the right skills, knowledge or qualities that are required of particular critical roles. If this is the case you may need to think about recruiting new volunteers to step into the roles.

You are now able to complete the Proposed Successors for Critical Roles section of the Template – Succession Plan (133 KB).

External Recruitment of Potential Successors

As you may have already seen, this website deals with recruitment in a couple of sections. For detailed information, useful links and helpful tools about recruiting volunteers check out the Finding New Staff page. 

However there are a couple of new points to be made when we are talking about recruitment for the purpose of succession planning. Good recruitment practice is a vital aspect of effective succession planning. The quality of volunteers needs to be high if your club is going to continue to grow and thrive in the future. It is not as simple as finding someone who wants to help and then throwing them in to a position. Clubs need to think more strategically than that. Your club needs to be recruiting volunteers who will help you achieve your club’s objectives now and over the next five years.

The main aim of recruitment should be about engaging volunteers with the right qualities, skills, experience or knowledge to fill some of the gaps you have identified. In order to do this the recruitment process should be targeted and systematic. Clubs need to devise a plan for finding, screening and inducting potential successors.

Firstly, clubs need to actually find potential volunteers. Consider the following:

    • Where could we find people in our community who possess the relevant skills? 
    • Where do the best volunteers come from? How can we reach them?
    • Are there people who have said ‘no’ to volunteering in the past because they were too busy but may be available now?
    • What kind of volunteers will we need in the next five -10 years?
    • Are there promising young people whom we could engage?
    • Are we searching broadly enough or are we being too exclusive? 
    • Can we be more inclusive? 
    • Should we be implementing fixed terms for key positions and a limit on successive terms (for example two year term as Club President with a limit of two successive terms) to avoid burnout, make the position more appealing and safeguard the club against poor volunteers being in positions for long periods?

Secondly, once you have identified avenues of recruitment or individuals you would like to engage, it is a good idea to set out a screening process to make sure the people you are recruiting are right for your club. Some organisations achieve this through forming a Recruitment Committee that works together to recruit, screen and induct new volunteers. The Committee as a whole decides whether the individual is suited to the particular position within the club. This can avoid the issue of personal friendships and relationships influencing the appointment of volunteers in to key positions. It also means that it is not the responsibility of just one person to find new volunteers. In order to screen new volunteers committees could use the following methods, depending on time and available resources:

    • Assessing written applications
    • Formal Interviews;
    • Informal chats;
    • Checking references; and
    • Assigning ‘trial periods’ for new volunteers.  

Finally it is important to comprehensively induct new volunteers to make sure they understand exactly how their role fits within the ‘big picture’ of the club. To find out more about induction, check out Induction page.

You are now ready to complete the Recruitment of Successors section of the Template – Succession Plan (133 KB)