Handing Transition and Change

At this time of year, many PACs are looking at electing new executive members. Some executive members are looking at stepping down, or moving on, some people are looking at moving into new positions, and sometimes this can create stress.

Here are some very useful articles in dealing with this (they come from a US website, where PACs are called PTOs):


“Parent groups often develop a communication gap between new volunteers and the veterans who have seen it all. But what if we could bridge that gap and say what we’re really thinking? After all, true unity starts with a little understanding.”

Dear Grizzled PTO Veteran,
I’m writing to you because deep down, I know you have a lot to teach me, an enthusiastic new volunteer. I know that you’ve put in years of volunteer time and that you’ve seen many different ideas tried (some without success) and that you have the best interests of the school at heart. But sometimes it seems that the PTO is all about you and your other experienced friends.”

“Dear Enthusiastic PTO Newbie,
I’m writing to you because deep down, I know that our group needs new blood and new ideas and that you and your fellow younger parents can help me, a grizzled PTO veteran. I know growing parent involvement in our school is essential. But sometimes it seems like you think everything we’ve been doing for so many years has been colossally dumb or that we’ve been wasting our time.”



“There are different reasons you would leave the executive board, and the circumstances can influence your future impact on the group, for better or worse. If you really love your position but term limits require you to pass the baton, then you might become the officer who Can’t Let Go. Sometimes, a contentious election puts you on the outside. If you are leaving the board with bitterness, you might become the Thorn in the Side. Perhaps your child is moving from elementary to middle school or your family is relocating out of the district. Maybe you’re just looking for a change. Or maybe you’re on the verge of volunteer burnout. You might be the officer who Fled the Scene.

None of these characterizations is particularly flattering or advantageous to the mission of the PTO. So what is the ideal situation for an ex-officer or the former chair of a major committee? With some advance planning and restraint, you can be the Resource On Call who has positive influence on the organization even after your name is off the door.”



“No one likes to be confronted with criticism, but unfortunately it’s inevitable when you take on a leadership role. No matter how good you are, there will be people who disagree with how you handle a situation or make a decision. An important and often underappreciated element of being a good leader is dealing with criticism of your group or of you personally in a professional and appropriate way.”



“As your term draws to a close and new officers are being elected, how will you as a current parent group leader make sure that the new officers are ready? Why is a smooth leadership transition important? How do you prepare new officers for the transition into their new roles?

Transition means more than simply replacing one able body with another. It also means the transfer of the organization’s mission and vision from leader to leader, and the assurance that the tools necessary for carrying out that mission and vision are transferred as well.”



“Whether you won by a landslide or one vote—with three recounts and a dispute over hanging chads—you face many challenges ahead. Getting off to a strong start can make all the difference. Here are some ways to do just that.”


“Although most PTOs install a new officer each and every year and many make the transition smoothly, the process is often fraught with struggles. Weary leaders find themselves spending more time sorting out power clashes and personality conflicts than planning fundraisers and family events. Veteran PTO presidents have learned, however, that there are steps PTOs can take to minimize the turmoil that sometimes accompanies the annual changing of the guard. Although every PTO president probably believes at some point that her struggle is unique, there are similar patterns of problems—and common types of solutions—that surface in PTOs from coast to coast.”



“There’s a lot to do to prepare for the new school year. Where do you start? How can you build on the great work the previous leaders did without feeling pressured to follow in their footsteps? Follow these proven tips and advice from seasoned PTO board members to help you get ready for what’s ahead.”


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