Across the nonprofit sector, we are seeing a wave of transition (registration required) among senior leaders. Driven by a variety of causes, these changes underscore the value and importance that can come from investing in a thoughtful transition plan.

It’s understandable that this topic isn’t often top of mind in the day-to-day work of an organization. No one who is actively engaged in their work wants to think about leaving. No one blessed with a strong leader in their organization wants to think about the day they will move on to a new adventure. But failing to plan for a thoughtful transition that considers both the business and human needs can carry heavy costs. The Society for Human Resource Management notes that poor transition planning can lead to an executive failing before they reach their second anniversary. In addition, poorly considered transitions can cost organizations millions in resources, value and distractions. Preparing for a thoughtful transition is an under-recognized contribution leaders can make to their team and to the future health and success of their organization.

This is an area where I can speak from some considerable experience. At the Murdock Trust, the organization where I have served as CEO for more than 16 years, we’ve navigated the transition of two long-serving senior directors in the last six years. And just last summer, I announced my own plans for retirement, a transition we completed this summer. In each case, our team was successful in managing these critical transitions in ways that supported the best interests of our organization, but also honored and respected outgoing leaders and created a hospitable and prepared environment to welcome our new executives. Our outcome has been relatively seamless experiences for the individuals, for our organization, and for those we serve.

If your organization has not invested in transition planning conversations yet, here are a few key steps to begin the process:

  1. Engage your leadership and board.
  2. Be open and honest.
  3. Start planning now.

A strong transition is one of the final great contributions of a successful leader and a core responsibility of any governing board. Thoughtful conversations today can make a smooth, successful process tomorrow and allow everyone to focus on communities and constituencies.

Read the full article about planning transitions by Steven Moore at Forbes.