This week I want to talk about the third pillar of donor relations - recognition - and its implications for moving human resources into talent management.
The last two weeks I've addressed the more "science-based" pillars of donor relations -- acknowledgement, and impact reporting. Recognition and engagement are often seen as the "art-side" of donor relations. This is because they are more about the "warm and fuzzy" than they are based on metrics.
What's interesting here is that for far too long both stewardship (donor relations predecessor) and human resources have gone to the same bag of tricks --- literally. For both professions it has too often been about giving stuff to people. For donors, its been to recognize certain levels of giving. "Give us X amount and we'll give you a [insert gift object here]." For many human resources operations its often about years of service or completing "the" major project for the year or quarter.
There are three big problems with this approach. First, its based on factors employees have little control over. To stay at the company you have to hope that the company doesn't let you go. To do this you have to avoid downsizing while also not doing anything that will upset your manager/director/CEO. This leads to mediocrity (a post for another time). Second, you actually have to be on the team that gets the "big project(s)". Third, its not personalized. Some people might like little gifts, others might appreciate time off, or a donation to their favorite charity.
So what can be done differently? The book Love'Em or Lose'Em provides a pretty good list to start. Be...
Spontaneous - Catch people doing something right and thank them then and there.
Need some more ideas? I'd suggest...
So how does this all help with talent management? The goal of recognition is to show appreciation for the efforts of those working for you. By showing appreciation, you tap into the personal inspirations of each employee to stay and do more of what they've already done. This helps you keep the talent(s) you already have on board.
How are you recognize your employees?
So last week I wrote about the importance of acknowledging people beyond the paycheck. This week I'm going to talk about the second pillar of donor relations - impact reporting - and how the same idea can help you build a more engaged workforce.
One of my favorite TED talks of all is Daniel Pink's "Puzzle of Motivation" (watch below). In it he speaks about the importance of purpose. Impact reporting is one way to demonstrate fulfillment of purpose. Let me explain...
Most donors give with a particular purpose in mind. It might be providing education to deserving students, saving an endangered species or the rain forest, curing a disease, or improving their community. Most donors also realize that it's not going to happen over night; thus, you need to inform them periodically about how they've helped the organization move closer to fulfilling the goal. Many non-profits do this through impact pieces like this one from Cook Children's Health Foundation.
Employees (on the whole) are likely looking to do the same. They want their work to mean something; to fulfill a purpose. As Daniel Pink states,
Purpose [is] the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.
What better way for an employer to recognize this truly human desire, than to show employees how they are impacting not only the company, but also the greater world? So many non-profits spend time constructing impact communications for external constituents (donors, volunteers, board members, etc.). What if all employers spent a little more time demonstrating how each employee is contributing to fulfilling the organization's vision, mission, and business objectives.
Since I write primarily for a Vermont audience, I have to add that I think this is the perfect state to start such a movement. So many of our companies are small enough, and we work in close-knit communities. I think it would be fantastic if we took the time to recognize the contributions of our fellow employees. It could also be inspiring to see how such a small state (and the companies that operate here) are making an impact on some of today's biggest issues.
What better way to take human resources beyond the next benefits form, and show genuine interest and gratitued in your workforce.
How are you showing the connection between your employees' efforts and your company's success?
Last week I wrote about how the donor relations profession might help inform human resources' metamorphosis into a more holistic "talent management" approach.
To further understand the parallels, I should point out that success in donor relations is based on four pillars (well laid out by Lynne Wester). These same four pillars should guide at talent management approach. They are: Acknowledgements, Impact Reporting, Recognition and Engagement.
This week I'd like to address the first pillar - Acknowledgments.
For Donor Relations
Ever since colleges, universities, and non-profits have existed, it has been common place (and now legally required) to send a gift receipt. No surprises there. So many of us depend on these to claim charitable tax deductions every April. For the longest time, these gift receipts were a staple of "stewardship" programs as it was a reactive practice. What has become a little more common is for development staffs to generate separate notes of gratitude that are sent shortly after the gift receipt. Who sends a "thank you" is often dictated by the size of the gift or the longevity of the donor. What is probably more important is that the thank you is personalized to the donor and the gift. It should be an expression of how the donor, through their gift, will help the organization move forward.
These may seem basic, but I can attest that if you get these wrong there isn't going to be much need for the other areas of impact reporting, recognition and engagement.
For Talent Management
The gift receipt is not unlike a paycheck stub. Any company, for legal and accounting purposes, must provide each employee a record of what the company owes them in response for their efforts to show up to work each day. This may seem basic, but if you get this wrong your employees aren't likely to stay around very long.
What would be new for human resources is to include a deeper acknowledgement of the impact each employee brings to the company. So what could this look like? Here are three options..
Remember, everyone loves to be appreciated, even if what they are accomplishing is what's expected of their position. Human resources shouldn't just be about using people as cogs (or a resource) in a larger machine. We should aim to recognize the unique talents of our teams and captivate those who decide to share their talents with us.
What have you done to acknowledge the efforts of your team members?
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