ep. 16, 2011 - Part Two: The Interim AE--A Case Study
"I'm sorry," Al said. "I really am. But my wife has this great offer for a three-year work assignment in Paris, and I'd like to go, too. It's an offer she can't pass up, and I want to be with her. I hate leaving the association high and dry, but...."
The leadership looked at each other, bewildered. There was no transition plan, needless to say: a transition roadmap was something that the board had on its 'to do' list, but had remained fairly low as a priority while other concerns attracted resources and energy. Now what would they do? Al planned to leave them in just a few weeks, and time was running short.
To make matters worse, the association was in the middle of a strategic planning activity. It has become clear to leadership that the industry profile was rapidly changing: the real estate brokerages had become leaner and more dependent on technology, the sources of income from MLS operations had diminished due to a regionalization program, and the focus of the organization was becoming more directed to providing support services for consumers as well as members. All of these trends were requiring a restructuring of the association's resources and direction. It was a time of significant change.
Al could not be leaving at a worse time. How would the association replace his knowledge and leadership? And how could the leadership find someone of a senior executive level to guide them through finalizing and implementing the strategies to accommodate the dramatic changes that were taking place in the real estate industry?
The National Association of Realtors provided the association with an answer: the Human Resources department suggested hiring an interim Association Executive to manage operations until a permanent hire could be put in place. "We've experienced the retirement of several successful CEOs," NAR told the association president. "Why not consider hiring a professional to lead you through this transition?"
NAR presented the board with several resumes, and the association was able to secure the temporary services of a seasoned AE with 25 years of Realtor association management experience. The interim AE came to the association with a clear understanding of the temporary nature of the appointment and of the work which the association needed: to continue operations of current programs and services, to guide the organization through the remainder of the strategic planning process, to organize and train staff to better serve the new directions the association was taking, and to assist in revamping the internal organizational structure to increase its capacity to meet new challenges. And the over-riding mission of the interim AE: to guide the group through a successful search process resulting in a permanent hire for the top management position.
What did the association gain from this solution to suddenly losing its Association Executive?
1. The association bought time in which to make a considered decision in hiring the right person. It did not expend volunteer resources in trying a do-it-yourself solution, and it did not spend unnecessary time and political capital in hiring the wrong person in haste.
2. The association brought the right skill set to the job at hand, which was to manage the transition period and prepare the way for the permanent AE.
3. The new permanent AE was positioned for success. The association had defined its goals, written a clear job description for the new CEO, implemented a fair and thorough search process, discussed with staff the need to meet the requirements of new goals, and instilled confidence in the members.
4. The association benefited from the advice of an objective and experienced short term manager.
5. The association (and the interim manager) were able to focus on key priorities. Because there was a clear 'end date' to the relationship, and an established set of benchmarks, the association did not get bogged down in side issues and unimportant disruptions. It was a very productive transition time for all concerned.
Granted, this article is billed as a case study--your organization may not fit this exact description. But there are many situations when an interim AE may be an excellent solution:
- When a long term, well-loved AE is leaving the association, and distance is needed (There's an adage for that: “I don't want to follow Bud. I want to be the person who follows the person who follows Bud");
- When there is significant political disruption accompanying the departure of an executive;
- When immediate leadership is needed, and it is clear that the hiring process will take a long time;
- When the association is evolving and the long-term needs are unclear, as are the extent of the organizational resources needed to meet those needs.
In recent years the Realtor organization has experienced the loss of many seasoned AEs, often baby-boomers who have reached retirement age. The Realtor organization can use these people as resources in many ways: as consultants, as mentors, and as interim association executives who can share their knowledge, leadership and experience at times when local and state organizations most need these qualities.
(If your organization needs help in developing a transition plan for planned and unplanned replacements of your chief staff executive, I can help. Contact Judith@judithlindenau.com. If you need further information on an interim AE program, contact NAR's Human Resource Department for more information. Fee-based consulting services are also available from NAR: contact Donna Garcia, Director Human Resource Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 312-329-8311. )
• 0 Comments • Post A Comment! • Permanent Link
View more entries tagged with: Executive Transition, Hiring, Association Executive
Friday, September 16, 2011
Part Two: The Interim AE--A Case Study : Off Stage