Hiring, Managing, and Retaining Staff

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An organization is only as strong as its staff, so it is essential that you take a thoughtful approach and make informed decisions when recruiting new employees. Once you have a team in place, or if you are inheriting a preexisting staff, it is important to engender mutual respect and commitment to the organizational mission. Whether you are the supervisor to a small team of middle managers or you directly oversee the entire staff, you will play a key role in staff recruitment, management, and retention. This chapter offers tips on writing an effective job description, managing smartly, and keeping your staff focused and fulfilled.

Carefully constructed job descriptions will help align your nonprofit.

By providing a straightforward description of the position’s key duties and requirements, a well-written employment listing will help applicants determine if they are a good match for the job and provide a framework for choosing the best candidate for the position.

A job description can also prove useful in the orientation and supervision of a staff member, as it helps everyone in the organization understand the boundaries of that person’s responsibilities, and it provides the framework for a performance development plan to be developed by the employee and his or her supervisor.

There are several essential elements to crafting an effective job description.

Provide a brief history. You might want to include when the organization was founded, the organizational mission, and a list of your programs.

Describe all of the duties associated with the position. Provide plenty of detail in this section. The applicant will rely on this information to determine his or her suitability for the job, and the organization will use the details here to define the new hire’s role and create a performance management tool.

List all requirements for applicants to be considered for the position, as well as any preferred skills, knowledge, or experience. Be sure to distinguish between what is essential to the performance of the job (requirements) and what would be considered beneficial but is not essential (preferences).

Application Instructions
Provide an e-mail address or fax number for submitting applications. You should also specify what materials must be included for consideration (e.g., cover letter, resume, writing samples).
Other information you may want to provide in a job description includes salary and benefits, a description of the work environment, travel requirements (if any), the title of the person(s) to whom the employee will report, the terms of employment (e.g., short-term, contract, or full-time), and the job hours or work schedule.

Keeping employees well-informed, dedicated, and adaptable can lead to greater organizational results.

Whether directly or indirectly supervising employees, the executive director establishes the overall tone for staff management across the organization. And while every manager has his or her own style of leadership, there are several key tactics for ensuring that your staff stays well-informed, dedicated, and adaptable.

Staff Orientation
A formal walk-through of the organization’s operational structure and practices empowers new employees and makes them feel like part of the team from the very start. It also helps establish clear lines of communication and promotes an open environment that encourages questions and feedback.

Well-defined Roles and Responsibilities
The more employees understand what is expected and required of them, the better they can work toward achieving those goals. And a clear understanding of how one fits into and supports the organization allows for a healthy degree of self- and peer-management.

Regular Management Check-ins
Both managers and their employees benefit from periodic reviews and consultations. This ensures that all parties remain on the same page and presents a forum for self-reflection, reevaluation, and open communication.

Meshing of Styles
Each member of your organization has his or her own way of approaching a task and interacting with managers and fellow employees. It is critical to establish an environment in which varying work styles can coexist and flourish.

Try these staff alignment and trust building activities to strengthen the relationships within your team.

Download this helpful Staff Alignment Guide to help you build trust among employees and create a healthy work environment.

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Personal conflicts are the primary reason for employees electing to leave a given job.

Personal conflicts are the primary reason for employees electing to leave a given job. This amplifies the importance of being able to mesh styles. It also cements the need for an executive director to institute measures that will help employees feel secure, valuable, and able to grow within the organization. Some recommended methods for keeping your staff satisfied and dedicated include:

Provide Relevant Benefits
Most employees expect health insurance and paid vacation time, but you should consider any and all benefits that support the needs and desires of your staff, including life and disability insurance or such pre-tax incentives as transportation and childcare subsidies.

Express Appreciation
Always remember to take time to recognize the accomplishments of your employees. Whether you publicly acknowledge an individual’s achievement during a staff meeting or throw a party to celebrate the team’s successful completion of a project, this kind of gratitude bolsters employee confidence and commitment.

Help Individuals Grow
An executive director is not simply someone who manages daily operations and delegates tasks. The executive director also functions as a professional mentor. Get to know your employees and their career aspirations and help them achieve their goals as appropriate. Your encouragement and support will engender loyalty and respect.

Challenge Your Employees
No employee likes to feel like he or she is just collecting a paycheck. Help your staff grow as they work by learning new skills and taking on new responsibilities. Your employees should continually be reminded that their hard work and willingness to push themselves is integral to the organization’s mission and success.