When you are appointed as County Commissioner it is good practice to have a handover period with the outgoing Commissioner. This ensures that you have all the information you need in order to carry out the role. A handover can take place within the designate period. Remember that the outgoing Commissioner has been in the role for five years; she will have her own ways of working that she has developed over this time. You do not need to work in the same way when you take over the role of Commissioner, but it is important to respect the retiring Commissioner’s experience during the handover period.
Areas to consider within the handover are:
- practical information about the County (Districts, Divisions, layout, distance between locations)
- who is on the County Executive Committee and when their roles finish
- any ongoing concerns within the County
- if there are any external roles that you are expected to undertake, for example on external committees
- any recent communications from Country and Region or CHQ
- equipment owned by the County and where this is stored.
Essential things to find out about are:
- what financial commitments the County has
- the current annual budget
- properties and assets owned by the County, and any terms related to the use of these properties
- any outstanding debts
- how many employees the County has, a copy of their job descriptions and the terms of their employment
- any regular volunteer workers within the County
- County Advisers and Coordinators and their role descriptions, if applicable
- what plans are currently in place or approved within the County, eg County events.
During the handover, try to attend key meetings, such as Finance and Executive meetings, so that you are aware of current business and processes. You may wish to hold one-to-one meetings with key members of your County team. These could include:
- Advisers and Coordinators
- the County Treasurer
- District and Division Commissioners
- Property Chairs and Wardens
- Committee Chairs.
It is important to note that not all members of your County Team will be part of the County’s executive committee.
Prepare questions in advance to ask each person. It is a good idea to have the same set of questions for each person; this will give you a view of the state of the County from all angles and will also point to any potential conflicts.
You could ask questions such as these.
- Are they enjoying the role?
- What would help them in their role? This could include support, training or funding.
- How do they see their role developing?
- What do they feel is working well within the County?
- What do they feel could be improved within the County?
Taking the time to talk to key team members individually will help them feel appreciated in the role and create a good foundation for communication. From the answers to these questions you should be able to form your own, independent view of the County and how it operates.
If you can’t have a handover with the retiring Commissioner you should still try to meet members of your County team individually. You could ask an existing member of the County team to chair your first meeting, allowing you to focus on the issues and becoming comfortable in the role. If you need further support during this time please contact your Country or Region Chief Commissioner.