By Chad T. Ahern
talent (noun, tal·ent | ˈta-lənt \): a person of talent or a group of persons of talent in a field or activity. (Merriam-Webster). See also Talent Management.
Talent (noun, tal·ent | ˈta-lənt): a naturally recurring way of thinking, feeling, or behaving that can be productively applied. (Gallup). See also Strength.
As Vermont's unemployment rate continues to hover around 3% many business leaders and HR professionals continue to worry they won't be able to find enough of the former. Yet, I wonder if we've done enough to capitalize on the latter within our state's population.
To truly access the full potential of Vermont's workforce we must combine the training of skills, the exchange of knowledge, and, most importantly, the identification and development of individuals' and teams' innate Talents. It is in this effort that we can unlock the best of what our current workforce can offer to their employers, their families, and their communities.
So far we've covered acknowledgment, reporting impact, and recognition. The fourth a final pillar from donor relations that can help transform human resources is engagement.
For donor relations professionals, the goal is to bring donors as close to the institution as possible so they A) feel good about their philanthropy and B) consider making additional future gifts. It is for this reason that donor relations professionals focus on three activities - information, access, and experiences. In donor relations these activities might look like:
Often these three types of activities can be combined. You might offer a special experience led by a organizational leader (access + experience). Or an "insiders" newsletter (access + information).
So what does this mean for transforming human resources?
If you're looking to further engage your employees (or future employees) with the organization consider how your human resources staff could facilitate some of the following:
Thank you to those of you who patiently waited since April for me to post this final installment of the human resources -to- talent management series.
How have you used information, access, and special experiences to keep and engage your company's talent?
How will you use the combination of acknowledgment, impact reporting, recognition, and engagement to transform human resources into a full-fledged, human-focused, talent management operation?
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?
As the Donor Relations Officer at Saint Michael's College for the past five years I've been able to watch a gradual but profound change in the way fundraising/development teams treat their donors. In the past, the term "stewardship" was used to describe the activities after the "ask" (never before asking a donor...that's "cultivation"). More recently, colleges, universities, and other non-profits are embracing a more donor-centric approach that seeks to drastically increase the scope of involvement with donors; encompassing not only the role of stewarding gifts but now looking to acknowledge, recognize, and engage donors. This is the new world of Donor Relations.
It wasn't until I happen to recently re-read Lynne Wester's gem "The 4 Pillars of Donor Relations", that I realized the human resources profession is primed for, or already starting, a similar switch in both terminology and approach to Talent Management.
Traditional HR is not too dissimilar from "Stewardship". HR has typically concerned itself with managing benefits, ensuring everyone is paid on time, and coordinating the organization/company's compliance with the right federal and state regulations. Sure they've managed the job postings and provided some advice to hiring managers, but I think most would agree that a bulk of HR's work is done after the hiring of employee.. This is what Stewardship did for philanthropic gifts. We made sure the gift was designated/allocated correctly, the donor got a gift receipt, and ensured the Finance Office correctly spent the money. This all worked when employees left at the 5 o'clock whistle, or didn't care much about what happened to their philanthropic gifts.
Yet, times are changing. Just as donors are becoming more discerning about their philanthropic gifts, so too are employees becoming more discerning about where they work. Work is no longer 9-to-5 as employees blur their personal and professional lives. Employees are also seeking more meaning from, and interaction with, their employers. Professional development opportunities are now a deciding factor for prospective employees. Frequent recognition, feedback, and mentoring are now the call of the day. Add to this, the growing challenge of finding and keeping a high-quality, talented workforce and now HR can't just be content with making sure checks go out on time. They now must make time to develop the right set of programs to acknowledge, recognize, and engage a discerning work force. Enter Talent Management.
In my next four posts over the next few weeks, I'm going to show how Lynne's ideas not only apply to donors, but can also help "human resources" transition to "talent management".
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