Nonprofit Staffing: Maintaining Corporate Identity When Growth Occurs
Be sure to include practical and time-tested techniques that give managers tools for managing, too. For example, many managers feel uncomfortable giving criticism. They are afraid that staff will not like them if they offer critiques. They don't understand that being best friends is not part of the job description. What is important is guiding staff development through constructive feedback, both positive and negative.
An Effective Technique
One effective training exercise asks the new manager to write down the top six functions an assigned staff person must perform. Next, ask that manager to give that piece of paper to the employee and ask him or her to self-assess by assigning a rating of one to five to each item. Invariably, the employee will self-grade higher than the manager.
Then, ask the manager: "If John Doe gave himself a four and you think he deserves a two, what does John need to do to get a five?" Even the novice manager is rarely at a loss for identifying specific steps that would lead to a five rating.
This process gives the manager a practical means to establish work goals for every employee supervised. It also provides a goal sheet that the manager and employee can discuss jointly at regular intervals. (Weekly progress discussions are optimal, workload permitting.) From this point on, everything that manager does with that employee is training toward goal accomplishment. The beauty of this approach is its simplicity and straightforwardness. Once learned, it becomes an ingrained technique.
Looking Toward the Future
With a structure in place that addresses both culture and staff development at all levels, organizational goals then shift to retaining qualified staff and keeping employees happy. Giving every new employee a chance to meet with the organization's leader at the time of hire—and holding an informal chat weeks or months later—conveys that management is interested in employees and their well-being.
Kim Cubine is president of Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey (CCAH), a full-service direct marketing firm with offices in Arlington, Va., and San Francisco. She possesses over 20 years’ experience as a strategist and communicator for progressive causes and political candidates. She has managed the direct marketing programs of some of the largest, most prestigious campaigns and global nonprofit organizations, including Obama for America, EMILY’s List, Clinton-Gore ’96, The Wilderness Society, NARAL Pro-Choice America, AARP and the Democratic National Committee. Since assuming the presidency of the firm, she has been instrumental in developing CCAH into the first and leading, full-service direct marketing agency in the country.