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Ben Woelk, Director and Chair, Community Affairs Committee
June 21, 2015
ben.woelk@gmail.com
Succession Planning and Volun...
Succession Planning and Volunteers
Have you tried…
• Hosting a leadership event to attract prospective leaders?
• Widening...
Succession Planning and Volunteers
Why Leaders Volunteer (~20 respondents)
Respondent #1
• Stay current in the industry di...
Succession Planning and Volunteers
Respondent #5
• Volunteer
• Make a difference in the local chapter
• Demonstrate and im...
Succession Planning and Volunteers
Respondent #8
• Somebody asked me
• Somebody believed in me
• Career advancement
• Skil...
Succession Planning and Volunteers
continue as 1st VP for another year. Things fell apart a few months ahead of the transi...
Succession Planning and Volunteers
• All those manager roles where it was my responsibility to manage tasks with measurabl...
Succession Planning and Volunteers
Respondent #15
• I've landed two tech comm jobs through networking in my chapter. I wan...
Succession Planning and Volunteers
environment). You might call this executive/leadership experience. I'm not sure how to
...
Succession Planning and Volunteers
Why They No Longer Serve
• Time – too many volunteer commitments elsewhere
• Others in ...
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Succession Planning and Volunteering

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Handouts for the Leadership Program at the STC Summit 2015. Succession Planning and Leadership Motivations for non-profit boards.

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Succession Planning and Volunteering

  1. 1. Ben Woelk, Director and Chair, Community Affairs Committee June 21, 2015 ben.woelk@gmail.com Succession Planning and Volunteers Introduction • What is succession planning? • Why do you need succession planning? How do you know if you need new leadership? • Burnout • Things feel stale • Objections to letting go of the reins • We tried that before and it won’t work • I’m the only one holding the chapter together • There’s nobody qualified • No one is stepping forward • Attendance/membership is dwindling Ben Woelk, Director and Chair, Community Affairs Committee June 21, 2015
  2. 2. Succession Planning and Volunteers Have you tried… • Hosting a leadership event to attract prospective leaders? • Widening your reach outside of your immediate geographic area? • Mentoring potential leaders? • Posting job descriptions with expected time commitment? • Meeting with people individually and asking? • Explaining what the community will no longer be able to do if position isn’t filled? • Limiting terms to two years? • Engaging students? • Creating a leadership progression? Where can I get help? • Contact the Community Affairs Committee • Build your network with other STC and outside leaders • Community Success Plan • Presidents and SIG Managers lists • STC Office Ben Woelk, Director and Chair, Community Affairs Committee June 21, 2015
  3. 3. Succession Planning and Volunteers Why Leaders Volunteer (~20 respondents) Respondent #1 • Stay current in the industry discussions • Build relationships with others in the industry • Give back • Increase awareness for our company Respondent #2 • To help others, and not necessarily to "advance my opportunities." • Once I went to a few STC Spectrum conferences, I see how much work and dedication that goes into the planning of these conferences, as well as other ongoing activities, such as the mentoring program, etc., and I am impressed by the members who volunteer for those activities. • Also, I like to see new faces at the conferences, especially ones who I can help with making connections and identifying opportunities in this "tough to find work sometimes" field. Respondent #3 • Socialize with local peers • Help to create a “we” perception among technical writers; create and maintain One Voice for all technical communicators. Lobbying. • Pick up and propagate industry trends. • Help to move the TechComm industry forward, to make sure it doesn`t become disconnected from Corporate America • Ideally, make TechComm a thought-leading professional discipline, but at least a `fast follower Respondent #4 • For me, volunteering is in my blood. My parents were great role models for me. I have been volunteering my entire life for different causes and organizations. I think that volunteering is a way to give back to your community or to an organization you are a member of, like STC. My philosophy is that in a volunteer organization, every member needs to take a turn in a leadership/board role to support the organization's continued success. • Get to know and learn from others in my profession Ben Woelk, Director and Chair, Community Affairs Committee June 21, 2015
  4. 4. Succession Planning and Volunteers Respondent #5 • Volunteer • Make a difference in the local chapter • Demonstrate and improve my leadership skills • Be a part of the decision making process • Meet STC leaders I would not have met otherwise Respondent #6 • I pursued leadership with my local chapter because I wanted to contribute to the event programming and try to address some of the needs I had in my first year as an STC member. • While I found the STC magazines coming in the mail very informative and the face-to-face networking very helpful in helping me build the right career path, I felt there was a step missing for me. In school I had "Tech Comm 101". I was looking for classes 2, 3 and 4 at the STC chapter meetings. I wanted to see what people had done in the real world back when they had put their foot in the door for the very first time as bona fide, legitimate Tech Writers on the payroll at their respective offices. I wanted someone to show me how to build a great portfolio, and what to say and do in an interview. Being something of a social introvert at the time (as many writers are), I felt awkward asking those type of questions out loud when everyone else was focused on what the newest version of FrameMaker looked like. • Being on the chapter's council has allowed me to provide my input and point out areas of interest that the seasoned writers probably hadn't thought of. As chapter VP, and soon to be chapter president, I want to reach out to new writers and experienced writers alike, as well as speak to non-members in our industry and see what they would expect from the STC if they were to join. • Ultimately, I want to give back to the organization which has helped me transform my career over the years and build my confidence in approaching new ideas at the workplace., Being a chapter leader allows me to do this Respondent #7 • I was asked by previous chapter presidents to lead our local chapter. I felt a sense of responsibility to the local technical communicators in the area to attempt to continue the chapter as their leader. • I have struggled to perform this role because there are few within the chapter that want to take on formal volunteer roles. I have tried to provide smaller task-focused roles without titles but I am still mostly a lone-volunteer within the chapter. However we still have members who are willing to pay to belong to the chapter with the limited meetings and other services the chapter provides. Ben Woelk, Director and Chair, Community Affairs Committee June 21, 2015
  5. 5. Succession Planning and Volunteers Respondent #8 • Somebody asked me • Somebody believed in me • Career advancement • Skills building in a safe environment • Personal growth • Resume builder Respondent #9 • Well, honestly, I accepted because I was new (to the chapter), I was trying to get involved, and we had a really limited pool of interested candidates. It's kind of like, if you show interest, you're eventually asked to step into a leadership role. Respondent #10 • The biggest thing for me was that my chapter had confidence in me way before I had confidence in myself. That was a huge boost to the ol' self-image, or ego, or confidence. • It gave me the chance to build leadership skills. Had no chance of that at my job. • Continued to accept positions after serving because I found out that I get a lot more out of STC by being involved than by sitting on the sidelines. That includes: continuing education, building relationships, personal growth, and career growth. Respondent #11 • A big deal has to do with personal outreach, which is a challenge with virtual communities. I never was involved with anything STC until I attended my first Summit in 2008. When I attended the IDL SIG business meeting, Jackie Damrau (the manager at the time) personally invited me to help with the scholarship committee. Since someone else was in charge of scholarships and I would be helping them, I agreed. I did not feel like I was being thrown into a shark tank; I was able to get my feet wet bit by bit. Over time, I desired to play a bigger role and to develop my leadership skills. Eventually, I became co-manager for two years and gained plenty of leadership experience, and have had numerous opportunities to expand my leadership role outside the SIG, including being part of the CAA and CAC committees. Respondent #12 • I chose to become a chapter leader when I saw that there were things that I could do for the chapter, things that needed to be done, and that might be left undone if no one else stepped forward. These were moments when I knew a simple decision to say “Yes” would have long-lasting benefit to the chapter. • The best example of this was when our chapter and a neighboring one merged. I was president of the larger chapter, and we had a plan: I would become IPP, the smaller chapter president would serve as president of the newly merged chapter, and my 1st VP would Ben Woelk, Director and Chair, Community Affairs Committee June 21, 2015
  6. 6. Succession Planning and Volunteers continue as 1st VP for another year. Things fell apart a few months ahead of the transition when for health and personal reasons, neither of them were able to serve. • In theory, I could have walked away, having served my term. In practice, I knew I couldn’t. There was just no way I’d let the chapter die on my watch. So, I served another year. I’m glad I did. • Yes, there are a lot of personal benefits to leadership: it looks good on the CV, increased opportunity for professional contacts, and there is a bit of prestige. To me, the real benefit is being able to look back at an organization that thrived, that benefited members, that accomplished good things…and knowing “I made this possible.” Respondent #13 • Why do I volunteer in Philly Metro? Well, I volunteered to be the Academic Outreach Chair last year (and will continue next year). I had to chance to initiate connections with the local university community. We had a joint meeting @ Drexel in November. I participated in a panel discussion on tech comm in May for DU students. • I liked having the opportunity to do something new. • I was (and am) willing to serve at the chapter level because I wanted to use my experience in the field to help make a difference for others. I've been around the block once or twice so to speak, so I feel I have a lot to offer. That is not to say that I don't have things to learn. By volunteering and stepping up, I get to work with others who are very motivated and experienced and I am always learning something new. • I serve because STC has been an invaluable resource for me over the years. PMCers are some of best folks I know. I am energized by working with the leadership team. I feel respected and valued. (BTW, this goes for NomComm as well.) I have learned many new skills through my volunteer efforts and met many new people. It is surprising how small the world can get as your network grows through your STC activities. STC volunteering is a great investment in your career. But, most of all, it is the people who keep me connected and engaged. Respondent #14 • Ann Rockley made me do it. She said, "You have to join the STC and make sure you're on the council. It's a valuable experience." That's paraphrasing. I can't remember verbatim what she said to me 17 years ago, but I'm grateful. I had no option, my job depended on it, but she knew I'd have fun. • Pride: Initially, as a young keener, I felt like a million bucks sitting there in council meetings with all the super experienced leaders. It felt like an honor. • Management Experience: I started as Job Bank Manager, then Employment Manager, then Recognitions Manager, then onto VP, and so on. Somewhere in there, I organized an awesome event. I can't remember what flavor of manager I was when I did that. But I can remember that it was the event where Bernard did a front hand spring at the front of the room at Seneca College. If he did that now, he'd be bed-ridden for a week I'm sure. ;D Ben Woelk, Director and Chair, Community Affairs Committee June 21, 2015
  7. 7. Succession Planning and Volunteers • All those manager roles where it was my responsibility to manage tasks with measurable outcomes... AND I make all sorts of mistakes along the way AND I got a lot of guidance along the way. AND the chapter appreciated my contribution. As a result, I got real leadership and management experience along the way. Stuff that I could put in my resume and portfolio. • Supporting Others: I'm a nurturer and truly fueled by making others feel good - setting people up for success. As I got more experienced, I was able to give back. It gives me great pleasure to be instrumental in moving people forward in their careers and building their confidence. • Attention: No lie. As much as a tonne of responsibility comes with the VP and President roles, I can handle them and the reward for me is being in charge and at the center of the room. Having the microphone. I love it. • Thought Leadership: I think outside the box and these days I am respected for my ideas. There's no way I'd ever be this knowledgeable if it weren't for my involvement with STC. I will openly confess that don't read non fiction books, I buy the important ones for reference and find what I need to substantiate my argument of the day. But what I have make a point of doing is networking and meeting the people who write the books and are the experts in the areas they are passionate about. So when I have questions, I go and talk to my contacts - my STC colleagues. • Community: I don't go to church and as a result I miss out on the valuable community support church provides. That doesn't mean I'm going to start going to church, but it does validate just how important the STC is to me. STC is my chosen community and I've been a part of it for 17 years. On the books, it may say different, but that's because I didn't pay for my membership in my baby-making years. • Job Security: Every single job I ever had was the result of the STC Job Bank or STC Community. Until this past couple years--because I've branched out in the interest in bringing the value of Tech Comm to the outside world who don't know it exists--STC was truly my source of job opportunities. • Credibility: I only entered one Tech Pubs competition and as a result I won an international Award of Merit. As STC Toronto VP and President, I was a part of winning five prestigious awards, all in succession: Pacesetter, Award of Merit, Award of Excellence, Award of Distinction, and most Improved Chapter. As a result, I am now VP of Product Development at a training company that knew nothing about tech comm until I came along asking them to bring me on board because, "I can make your curriculum so much better." And I showed them. But those awards--without a doubt in my mind--made the different between being their curriculum developer and their VP. I would never be able to run a company had I not developed my leadership skills at STC. • Loyalty: STC has provided me with so many rich experiences, I feel honor-bound to pay it forward. Also, many of my closest friends are luminaries in the field, and I adore spending time with them, even if just once or twice a year. Ben Woelk, Director and Chair, Community Affairs Committee June 21, 2015
  8. 8. Succession Planning and Volunteers Respondent #15 • I've landed two tech comm jobs through networking in my chapter. I want to make sure those same opportunities are available to present and future practitioners. • STC has given me opportunities to present, publish, and lead, which has benefited my career greatly. • It's not about who you know, but rather who knows you . . . and your capabilities. Volunteering keeps me in the forefront of people's minds when my next dream job opens up. • Tech comm pays my bills. Promoting it locally and internationally benefits me, everyone in tech comm, my employer, and our customers. • I get to work with fun and interesting people. • Wearing multiple hats in STC has forced me to stretch and learn things that I might not have otherwise. Often these skills have helped me in my personal and professional lives. • Finally, because Ben asked me to Respondent #16 • I'm a consummate volunteer. I've always been involved in community service projects. I donate a lot of my time. It's fundamentally part of who I am and what I do. I feel that all of us have a responsibility to our communities to do charitable work. Whether its donating money or donating time or both. I am continually dismayed that this sense of social responsibility has declined steadily in our culture. I've always had community projects or groups that have community projects. I can't remember a time when I didn't have some kind of community service project/group in my life. I volunteered when STC asked me to fill out the application to join the board. I serve. It's just part of who I am. • Visibility/Skill Building. Also known as resume building among other things. Call it what you will. • I have more contacts in more places than I can count and most everyone of them I have a solid relationship with. This is one of the motivators I offer to recruit volunteers. Those who are looking for work or who have weak networks can improve both situations if they volunteer for a professional organization and take an active role doing so (officer, committee chair, even committee member). This is a motivator that often works well. Taking on different roles can give you leadership skills, interpersonal skills, build your network (especially if you're either recruiting speakers, sponsors, or volunteers). I've seen members of our ACM chapter who have done this when they've been out of work for a while and wound up with jobs. It's the combination - network growth, relationship building with those network contacts, and the skill building - that gets them work. • Part of the reason I stay is that it's difficult to hand the treasurer job off. • I also stay because I care about what happens to the organization. I've been around a long time. I know what our group does, where our sweet spot is, I understand our members and I know how to bring the two together such that our membership keeps growing (even in this Ben Woelk, Director and Chair, Community Affairs Committee June 21, 2015
  9. 9. Succession Planning and Volunteers environment). You might call this executive/leadership experience. I'm not sure how to describe exactly what I'm getting at. I know that because of my long-term experience with the group, I know what it takes for us to have a meeting or PDS or spawn a SIG to guarantee that whatever it is is successful. That comes out of long-term experience and exposure from being involved. It's how to create and estimate budgets, it's how to make sure resources are there, it's .. all kinds of things required to make a company or a project run. If someone is trying to grow into a management role, this kind of experience is invaluable and you get it for the price of volunteering. This is one of the motivators our chair uses to recruit volunteers. For me, this is part of what keeps me involved because I know I have more experience than many of the other council members and volunteers (especially the brand new ones) and it assures our chapter continues healthy into the future. That sounds a good bit egotistical but the Bruno role is one I find that some of the other council members depend on me to play. Respondent #17 • Opportunity to build my resume with demonstrated leadership experience • Opportunity for leadership training at Summit • Impress upon coworkers and bosses my commitment to excellence in writing, career development, leadership • Fun! Built-in networking • Actually affecting people’s lives Ben Woelk, Director and Chair, Community Affairs Committee June 21, 2015
  10. 10. Succession Planning and Volunteers Why They No Longer Serve • Time – too many volunteer commitments elsewhere • Others in my company volunteer at STC so I stay relatively connected without being the physical representative • I have not served on the STC Rochester council the past few years (other than helping out at Spectrum) because of a major volunteer commitment at my church, along with increased work responsibilities. (I tend to overextend myself!) I am sure that in the future when the time is right I will be happy to serve on the council again. • The main reason for no longer serving is just time. • I am currently looking for my replacement and will most likely serve another year as president before stepping down. • Too few fellow volunteer leaders • Lack of dedication of members • Time commitments exceeded available time • Too few new members (since newest members are the future leaders) • Turned down some positions recently because of burn out, and the fact I hadn't pursued any hobbies since 2007 (when I became involved at a high level (VP)). • I have other interests and obligations that require my time. • My chapter and STC need fresh perspectives and new ideas. • I want to give others the opportunity to benefit from leadership roles as I have. Ben Woelk, Director and Chair, Community Affairs Committee June 21, 2015

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