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How to Create a Succession Plan

6) Share your knowledge.

Once you have found the right candidate to take your place as a group leader, it’s time to start teaching him how to do your job. This will involve a lot of nuts-and-bolts conversations about how to identify destinations, work with tour operators and keep things organized. But you should also share your best sources of information and inspiration. Pass down copies of this magazine and encourage him to subscribe. And if you attend travel conferences or other tourism events, bring the candidate along to a few.

7) Let her run some trips.

After the leader-in-training has learned the basics of tourism, she should get some hands-on-experience by planning and leading some trips of her own. You should supervise the trainee’s work, offering advice and input where you can. And be sure to go on the trips yourself to give additional feedback or solve complicated problems when necessary. In addition to giving the new leader valuable experience, this will help your travelers get used to the idea of traveling with her.

8) Communicate clearly to your group.

If you have found a new leader, trained him and given him responsibility in your program, it’s time to start telling your travelers exactly what’s going on. Some members may feel nervous or uneasy about the idea of traveling with anyone besides you. You can allay their fears by outlining the succession process clearly and assuring them that the new leader will be a great fit. If possible, make this announcement several months or a year before you step down. And make yourself available to anyone who has questions or concerns.

9) Connect with church leadership.

Since your travel program is part of the overall ministry of your church, it’s a good idea to make sure the church’s leaders are aware of your transition plan. If they haven’t met before, introduce your new travel coordinator to the pastor or leader who oversees your area of ministry. Make sure your replacement understands that the pastors are there as a support and a resource. And see to it that church leaders know when you’re stepping away so they don’t continue to come to you with questions or ideas.

10) Stay involved and available.

No matter how well you have planned your transition, your replacement will probably encounter some unforeseen challenges and have some unexpected questions. So support the program you love by staying involved and make yourself available to your successor as much as possible. Even if you can’t go on trips anymore, you can provide a lot of wisdom and encouragement to the person who picks up your mantle. And you might enjoy participating in the group’s activities and shorter trips without the responsibility of planning them.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.