The number one secret of success in a nonprofit is their ability to have the right people doing the right things in their organization. I’ve seen statistics that state over 50% of effective leaders believed they have hired the wrong person in their careers. With this number being so high, I thought I’d spend the next couple of blogs discussing how to get the right people on your teams. In future blogs, I will talk about team development and retention strategies.
I’ve spent over 25 years building teams for clients and in my own organizations. I have interviewed over 17,000 individuals in my career. These interviews have included CIOs, CMOs, COOs, and managing directors for nonprofits and global Fortune 1000 organizations. I’ve made it a habit to find out what they know about picking winners and avoiding costly hiring mistakes. I would like to share the three key lessons I learned from these professionals.
I know you may be thinking this doesn’t apply to you because you have a volunteer organization. You should be evaluating volunteers that come into your organization as thoroughly as any paid staff member. The roles they fill are frequently vital to the success of your nonprofit. With nonprofits I work with, volunteers fill many of the customer facing roles. If they don’t do a good job, you can’t fire them. So, volunteer or paid, the same rules apply, because you still have to work with the people who come on board your organization.
Key #1 – Hire slowly. They take time to get to know the people they hire for their teams. They get to know the people they want to hire. They do this in many ways but they are not afraid to share honestly their shortcomings. They understand with whom they work best. It’s not always fair to the candidate but I’ve always taken the approach it’s better to dodge a bullet than take one. These people have discovered it’s much better for their organization to hire the right person than to high a poor performer and hope to develop a winner.
Key #2 – Put key objectives for both the organization and the job into a hiring profile. You need to know what you need the person to do in the role you are hiring. Once you have taken time to break down what this person needs to do to be successful in the role, you’re able to interview the candidate to better understand their level of competence in the key performance areas required for the job. I would also include in this profile what high performers in this role all possess. I call them interviewing intangibles. These intangibles might include adaptability, willing to stretch and grow, the capability to connect the dots and take action faster than others in their field. The best part of these intangibles is that they can be accurately assessed during the interview process. I suggest that you include these key interview factors in your hiring profile so you can look for these in the interviewee’s past work and life performances.
Key #3 – Look before you need to hire. The best leaders I know are always looking for great talent. One of my best bosses uncovered great talent by looking at industries that had nothing to do with ours but required similar skill sets. When we went out to lunch or dinner, he would share with me how he evaluated the talent required to be on his team. He would then interview the person waiting on us to see how they would fit into our team. He was always interviewing people this way and he then would share his findings with me when they left. At the time I thought it odd but he would always got great service. What I uncovered as I got to know him was that he was always developing and refining his own interviewing skills. He made it fun to learn how to evaluate people on the fly. He built several successful organizations over the past 30 years. He was always looking for his next great hire and consequently found them.
I know that this blog has just scratched the surface on how to hire great people for your organization. Next week, I’ll share how to create your hiring profile to help you get your next great hire. I’ll also be adding a series of blogs talking about how to raise more money for your nonprofit organization. A special guest blogger to help you with your fundraising challenges will be starting next week.