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  • Chad T. Ahern

HR to Talent Management - Acknowledgement

Updated: Feb 1


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...

  • For a smaller company this could be as simple as CEO/Owner or the leadership team dropping quick handwritten notes in with each pay stub explaining the difference that person had in moving the company forward that month. If you still send out physical pay stubs, could a message be added to the paperwork somewhere? If everything is done electronically at your company, try sending an email on payday.

  • For mid-sized companies where handwritten notes from the CEO to each employee might be too time consuming, could you automate the system to add a brief note to paychecks? Or have department heads help you personally thank employees?

  • Obviously, Larry Page at Google, Marrisa Meyer at Yahoo, or Satya Nadella at Microsoft aren't going to be sending individual handwritten notes to every employee in their respective companies. But could each team or department head do so? With the resources at hand, could it be possible to tie the direct efforts of a single employee to a major initiative and show how they helped in achieving success that month?

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?


Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

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