In the End, It All Comes Down to People
● Use a gaps chart. Make a list of the experiences and skills they need, and identify where they are already proficient and where they have growth opportunities. Consciously seek opportunities to afford them the new experiences they need.
● Always look for ways to catch people doing something right. Then affirm them for it specifically.
● Give constant feedback, and be ready to assess whether you have the right person in the right position.
Some nonprofits tolerate mediocre employees because they're "committed to the cause." They keep people in positions where they are not performing adequately, or they shuffle them from job to job to avoid having to let them go. That is a disservice to your cause, to your employees who are doing good work and even to the underperforming employees.
● Use your 90-day "get out of jail free" pass wisely. Pour yourself into new employees to help them succeed. Monitor them closely. Give plenty of feedback. If they're not succeeding by the end of their 90-day probation period, bite the bullet and let them find positions elsewhere to which they're better suited.
● No secrets. Everyone else knows when an employee isn't pulling his or her weight. And tolerating that poor performance demoralizes co-workers. Use the termination as an opportunity to establish the high standards you have for performance of everyone.
● Tell the truth. Give current and departing employees honest feedback about where they succeeded and where they didn't fit the bill. If they're open to it, help them determine what kind of job might be a better fit and offer to be a reference — understanding that your reference will be entirely honest.
The winning formula? Hire smarter + train better + fire faster = grow stronger. And sleep better.