Part 6: Navigating Transition

In the following sections, you will find introductory tools to plan for and navigate vacancies in critical positions, including suggested tools to support effective knowledge transfer.​

1. Planning for vacancies

Your Division may want to plan ahead for potential vacancies in key positions (e.g., Executive Director, Admin Assistant). To identify which positions should be highest priority, consider using the Succession Management Worksheet to analyze each position for the:

  • Risk of the vacancy occurring.
  • Organizational and/or team impact of the vacancy.
  • Current short and long-term plan to address each specific position, if a vacancy were to occur.

For further information on staff and board succession planning, consider viewing the recorded webinar (please connect with your Engagement Partner to obtain login information).



2. Effective knowledge transfer

Ensuring organizational knowledge and information is transferred efficiently and effectively to new team members is a key challenge during any transition. The following tools are valuable in supporting effective knowledge transfer:

In the week or days leading up to an employee’s departure, an exit interview can be helpful for:

  • Understanding why the employee is leaving.
  • Identifying what your Division does well.
  • Pinpointing areas where the Division can improve.
  • Capturing useful knowledge, contacts, tips, etc.
  • Informing changes to recruitment criteria and strategies for replacement.
  • Setting a positive tone for the employee’s departure.


* To access this tool, please connect with your Engagement Partner.


3. ​Interim Executive Director

Because the departure of an Executive Director can significantly impact an organization in terms of business continuity, many organizations seek to fill this vacancy immediately. During the vacancy, the Executive Director's critical duties are often assumed by other staff, resulting in greater burden and urgency to fill the role.

The vacancy of an Executive Director can, however, offer a valuable opportunity for an organization to reassess the current and anticipated needs, and define the skills and experience necessary to effectively meet those needs. An Interim Executive Director role may be considered to support this assessment process and ensure business continuity, reducing the urgency to rehire immediately.

Acting as the executive staff lead on a short-term basis, an Interim Executive Director can effectively bridge all facets of an organization between two permanent Executive Directors.  While the exact role and expectations of an Interim Executive Director can vary and are determined by the Board, this role can lead a transitional and organizational development process that may include but is not limited to: overseeing daily operations; supporting organizational assessment; recommending organizational structure, process re-engineering, technological enhancements, adaptability to changing business and regulatory environments; and identifying changes or shifts necessary for organizational transition.

When hiring an Interim Executive Director, consider whether this position is best suited to an independent contractor or an employee. See the Recruitment section for guidance on Canada Revenue Agency criteria.


  • Job Description: Interim Executive Direct* (please contact your Engagement Partner to access this tool).


4. ​Transitioning an independent contractor to an employee

Hiring short-term independent contractors for positions such as Executive Director and Program Manager may best serve initial Division needs until they have established long-term needs and priorities through strategic and operational planning. An independent contractor must meet the Canada Revenue Agency criteria captured in the Independent Contractors vs Employees tool in the Recruitment section.

Once a Division establishes long-term strategic and operational plans, and possibly offices and support staff, the Executive Directors and Program Manager roles may begin to function more like employees than contractors. There is risk to the Division and the worker if the nature and terms of work no longer align with Canada Revenue Agency criteria noted above. Consider the criteria carefully and seek HR or legal expertise if necessary, or speak to your Engagement Partner if you have any questions.

There are several considerations when transitioning an independent contractor to an employee:

  • Wishes of the worker: It is critical to discuss the division’s changing needs and explore the interest of the independent contractor to transition to an employee.  Because there are tax and other implications to consider, the independent contractor may wish to seek financial and legal guidance before accepting an employee position. If an independent contractor declines to transition, continuing as a contractor may not be possible if the role no longer complies with the Canada Revenue Agency criteria.
  • Status of current contract: If transitioning to an employee does not coincide with expiration of the current contract, the contract must be terminated prior to the date of employee hire. This can be accomplished by an addendum to the contract amending the end date or a letter reflecting the mutual agreement to terminate the contract with signed by both parties.
  • Pay: Independent contractors are typically paid on an hourly or task/deliverables basis, plus applicable tax. The employer does not provide benefits nor make tax remittances on behalf of an independent contractor. Employees are typically paid on an hourly or salary basis, with tax remittances are made on their behalf and benefits may be provided. Because taxes and benefits represent additional costs to an employer, the wage rate of an employee may not be equal to that of an independent contractor.
  • Job Description: An independent contractor's work is typically outlined in their contract terms. These are often called "deliverables" and captured in the body or a schedule of the contract. An employee's duties are typically reflected in a job description. If a job description does not exist, the division may wish to develop one using the deliverables as a foundation. See the Recruitment section for sample job description for key division positions.
  • Work Location: An independent contractor can generally work from any location they choose that is suitable to meet the deliverables of the contract. An employee's place of work is typically determined by the employer. While most often an office setting, other suitable locations, such as working from home, may be negotiated. This may involve compensation for home office costs (e.g., equipment, supplies, telephone).
  • Performance Review: Independent Contractors are obligated to meet the deliverables in their contract. While efforts to address compliance issues should be attempted, failure to deliver on contract terms may be grounds to terminate a contract. Employees are generally subject to a probationary period followed by regular (e.g., six- and 12-month) performance reviews. See the Performance Management section.

When the transition to an employee has been discussed and confirmed, the division prepares a Letter of Employment outlining the terms of the offer. This letter and the job description are given to the employee for their consideration and signature of acceptance. For further guidance, see the Recruitment and Onboarding sections.