Hiring Spree

My client is depressed. Her HR department has determined that her expectations of a pretty new staff member are too high. “Hmmm,” she grumbles, “expecting competence is unacceptable?”

I know that feeling. For too long, I worked at too many places where I was expected to simply make do; where my staff was not held accountable.  It’s a big reason my consulting practice is a practice—just me—instead of a firm—with employees.

The obvious answer, of course, is to hire better, but I’m not sure that is even possible.

Over the years of my pretty-long career, I have become convinced that fully 50% of everyone you hire turns out not to be who you thought he or she was. Sometimes that’s good—someone for whom you have low expectation turns out to be terrific. Often it is beyond bad.  I remember hiring an adorable (can I still say that?) customer service associate with a great sense of humor who seemed to be very empathetic and a good listener, only to find that the person who actually showed up to work turned out to be a curmudgeon, with a capital C.  And that was just one of many cases where I am convinced that I hired one person and the evil twin turned up.

None of this, of course, means you throw up your hands and leave your staff to their own devices. It does mean that you have to be better at creating clear expectations for your staff, providing those expectations before you hire, and then have ways to evaluate whether they are meeting those expectations.  And oh, evaluations have to happen way more often that once a year just because that is what is required.

If you already have staff on board, there is no reason you cannot wind back the clock a bit and have those conversations about expectations and institute regular reviews.  OK, if you work for a state or other government institution, you may have check first with HR, but if you do this across the board with every single person on your team, there should be no real problem.

Begin with having clarity about what you want this person to achieve over the next year.  When I was interviewing for jobs, the one question I would ask would be:  If I was to come to work with you, what will I have accomplished in my first year that will make you feel you made a great hire?

The answer or answers told me worlds about the organization, the department, whether I wanted the job or not (and sometimes made me wonder why I had accepted the offer when all those red flags were flying).

What do you expect this person to do?  Specifically. Not “identify, cultivate…” but rather, “Identify two new major donor prospects a month.”  And do define what “New” means: New to the organization, to the major gift program, to this round of cultivations?

If you expect them to cultivate donors, how many face to face meetings each month does that translate to?  What do they need to have after those meetings (hint:  A solid call report; action items for next steps).  How are they reporting this to you?  And how often are you evaluating what they are doing?

Having a great team is a lot more than luck.  It is having a roadmap for the team as a whole and each member individually.  It is ensuring that each staff person understands his or her roles and responsibilities and that you are constantly working with them to celebrate what is going well and to correct what is not.

If you do this, you will have a great team.  And you will accomplish all those goals your boss has set for you.

Janet Levine works with nonprofits, helping to move them from mired to inspired.  Having the right team with the right goals will set you on the path to success.  Let Janet help you—contact her for a free, 30-minute consultation.  And do sign up for the newsletter at http://janetlevineconsulting.com




About janetlevineconsulting

For over 20 years, Janet Levine has worked for and with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping to grow their advancement programs. Her consulting company, Janet Levine Consulting, serves a wide range of organizations from small, all-volunteer agencies to major national organizations. She regularly teaches courses in non-profit management, fundraising and grant development, both face-to-face and online at http://courses.lmlearningstation.com/. In addition to her nonprofit work, Janet brings years of experience as a business and sales manager in the for-profit sector. She has an MBA from the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.
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