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SART Foundations: Developing Turnover Plans

In my regular technical assistance and training, the issue of team turnover usually comes up as an issue for Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART). Whenever we talk about the team losing and gaining members, I ask, “What is the team’s turnover plans? Have you discussed how to pass on information?”

Usually, folks don’t have any formal transition plans or processes. This means that every new team member gets a different orientation to the SART and their work. As a part of building strong and resilient teams, it is absolutely necessary for the team to discuss and plan for turnover. No matter how great things are right now with your team, everyone will eventually leave their current position. With that in mind, here are a few talking points and questions to use when you and your team develop a Team Turnover Plan!

  • What will each current member be responsible for in a new team member orientation? In the process of transition, the work of the SART can quickly get lost. So, it’s essential that your current team members agree on what information must be shared with the member agency and the new person. Things as simple as Date, time, and location of meetings or current SART tasks and projects might be part of your team turnover plan. Work together to choose a few essential items that each member will share with their agency and the new person as part of the transition process.
  • What information should each new person get as part of joining the SART? It’s important that new members know what the team is and their role in the team process. Maybe your team agrees on a 1-2 page team summary document that provides things like the mission and current projects, timelines, or the current MOU. Consider giving folks a current team directory as well as an orientation to each discipline’s role in the response. Whatever items and information you give new team members, make sure that each team member gets the same orientation to the team.
  • Should you develop a buddy system? It can be really hard to be a new team member and feel like you know what you are doing. I spent my first few meetings feeling like my wheels were spinning. It wasn’t until I made time to sit down and really talk with established team members that I fully understood the work of the team. As part of your transition plans, maybe the team agrees to a volunteer “onboarding buddy” system to help out new team members. This ensures that it’s not just the coordinator’s responsibility to onboard a new team member.
  • How will the team keep moving forward on critical work in the absence of that agency representative? It might take the coordinating agency some time to find a replacement for the person who has left the agency and team. This can stop some teams in their tracks, as they do not feel like they should move forward without a full roster. It’s important that your team makes a plan to continue with the work. Discuss what will continue, what you’ll hold, and what cannot be completed without that agency present. You can also discuss if you want to request a temporary representative from the coordinating agency.

Turnover can be hard on the team and the new person. However, you can make turnover a little less hard by preparing for it! By developing a clear and consistent turnover plan, you can reduce strain and promote team resilience. A little preparation can go a long way for many SARTs.

Do you have experience in developing team turnover plans? Questions or comments to provide to others? Leave them below!