Building a Philosophy for Dynamic Nonprofit Talent Management

Building a Philosophy for Dynamic Nonprofit Talent Management

Lead on!

Betty Jeanne here and I’m thrilled to be in dialogue with all of you. As this blog recently announced, I’m one of the LaunchPad fellows working with YNPN National this year. The focus of my work is on talent management: how YNPN (and the larger nonprofit sector) recruits, develops, and retains leaders for our crucial work. Part of my task is evaluating and strengthening the internal systems and structures YNPN uses for talent management. However, I’m especially eager to contribute to a sector-wide conversation about the topic - and to hear from all of you about your own wisdom and experiences.

As I began working with YNPN, I found great alignment between my own vision for the nonprofit sector, and that of our national organization. We were asking similar questions: How do you best support the exceptional leaders - both paid and volunteer - to make our vision a reality? What unique opportunities and challenges does the nonprofit sector face with leadership development? What best practices have YNPN chapters developed around talent management, and how can we amplify those lessons to be shared nationally?

Personally, my approach to talent management reflects my overall orientation to nonprofit leadership. My work centers on relationship; on building and leveraging a diverse network in service of an organization's mission and vision. I support the holistic wellbeing of both paid and unpaid leaders, knowing their experience – from recruitment to retention – plays a crucial role in determining an  organization's success.

I’m aware that the practice of talent management (TM) is rapidly changing due to shifts in the nonprofit sector, economic and political climates, generational turnover in the workforce, and new technological developments. We will need greater innovation and creativity to first identify the human resources (or “people power”) needed to accomplish an organization’s goals, then to find ways to strategically meet those needs.
Some of the lessons I’ve gathered about talent management:

  • Organizations have their own unique SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) for talent management (TM). A strategy for TM must consider these factors in order to enable an organization reach its particular goals.
  • Understanding and addressing generational differences – for example, how to connect more effectively with an increasing workforce of tech-immersed “Millennials” – is essential. Fostering intergenerational community contributes to organizational vitality overall.
  • More than ever, professional and personal lives are managed through social media and mobile platforms: our methods of outreach must respond to this trend.
  • Increasing turnover rates call us to a greater emphasis on retention that responds to leaders’ individual needs. Personally, I am passionate about one-on-one support of leaders, as well as strengthening overall morale and teambuilding.
  • Organizations must combine external recruitment with internal development (building skills and leadership among existing leaders) to ensure the talent they need.
  • Leaders need to feel a positive connection not only to an organization’s brand, but to the underlying values that guide its work.
  • We can learn so much from intentionally observing and evaluating the experience of both current leaders (retention), as well as potential candidates (recruitment).
  • Talent management must be an ongoing, intentional process that engages all stakeholders – staff, volunteers, board members, donors, etc. – in building the strongest organization possible.

Most of all, I’m eager to learn from all of you about your own experiences with talent management, and exchange ideas for how to make this part of our work even stronger.  In the comment box below, I’d love to hear:

  • How are the points above showing up in your organization?  Where are you struggling?  Where are you making inroads?
  • What great resources or insights have you come upon lately in these areas?

Chapter leaders: keep an eye out for an invitation for you to contribute your own lessons, questions, and best practices on talent management in the coming months. We’ll be sharing tools and resources over social media, and exploring the topic more deeply on the YNPN blog.
by Betty-Jeanne Rueters-Ward, LaunchPad Fellow and National Talent Coordinator

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