publication date: Apr 24, 2012
author/source: Philippe Gérard
Talent management has become a buzzword these days, often
used interchangeably with human resource management. It describes the entire
cycle from recruiting through retaining to advancing talent in an organization.
Sometimes we assume that the organization is responsible for
its employees' success and professional development. A proactive talent
management approach is in the employer's best interest, because turnover is
expensive and the talent pool may be limited. However, we as employees have our
part to play as well, and need to be proactive in managing our career.
seekers need realistic expectations
A vacancy offers an employer the chance to find the person
who best fits the position and the organization. It is also an opportunity for
job seekers to position themselves most effectively and find the right team,
culture, and environment.
Accepting a new job is a serious commitment that requires
diligent research and consideration. It is not just about being offered a job
anymore. We need to do as much research on the employer as they do on us. In a
larger organization we want to meet the team we would be joining to observe its
dynamics. In smaller organizations we want to meet the board members and ask
some tough questions around expectations.
It continues to amaze me how many board members at small
organizations expect fundraisers to bring their previous contacts and donors
with them. Some boards believe that by hiring a top fundraiser at a premium
salary, they will immediately close six- and seven-figure gifts. A year later
that fundraiser may be out of a job.
"Onboarding" is the process of making a new employee part of
the team and ready to perform. It starts during recruitment, as that experience
influences how a new employee perceives the organization, and it is a crucial
time that can make or break the relationship.
Organizations can save time and money by motivating top
talent to stay past the honeymoon period. Some organizations go the extra mile
in making new colleagues feel welcome: presenting jackets, t-shirts or other
paraphernalia, or giving flowers and welcome lunches.
The common theme is that the organization has been expecting
and preparing for the new employee. Simple things such as a working computer, a
prepared office, business cards and an activated phone go a long way. Some
organizations communicate prior to the new colleague's arrival about what to
expect on the first day. Once the new colleague is welcomed to the team,
orientation and training programs can help make the onboarding process a
Employees joining an organization without an official
program can help their own onboarding succeed. Find out who the champions are
and who can answer questions so that you can understand the culture better and integrate
with the team faster.
Setting a career path
"I want your job, boss!" Often employees know what job they
ultimately want, but how to get there is a different story. Organizations that
can demonstrate and explain available career paths and how to get there are
more likely to retain talent.
The first person to approach in our own career management
should be our manager. If a position becomes too mundane, with limited
opportunity to advance into a higher role, just asking for opportunities and additional
responsibilities may help. If we want more frontline fundraising experience, we
can ask to accompany a senior fundraiser on calls or assume a small portfolio. Sometimes,
however, people have to leave the organization to gain additional experience before
returning as so-called "boomerangs" in a more responsible role.
Having a career path is good but climbing it successfully
requires gaining additional knowledge and experience. Organizations with a
professional development plan proactively support their employees' continued
growth, motivation, and engagement.
Some organizations think about professional development
while others do not. Employees need to think beyond conferences when setting
their personal development strategy. Public speaking, communications,
leadership training and time management are all important in fundraising: One
of the best professional development experiences for me has been joining a
While professional development should be open and accessible
to all, succession planning is a much more personal affair and therefore
requires an individualized approach. Not everyone has what it takes to be the
next leader. Senior managers need to identify and advance their potential
successors and give them chances to see for themselves if they are cut out for
a leadership role, perhaps by appointing acting leaders during their absence.
As employees, if we already know that we want to be in a
leadership role, we must show it and demonstrate that we are serious and
committed. Positioning ourselves to be noticed by the right people is
important. This does not mean bragging to everybody about successes, just ensuring
the decision makers are aware of our involvement in successful projects. Too
often I have seen brilliant fundraisers overlooked because they are poor at
positioning and marketing themselves.
In our busy, target-driven world, talent management matters
are not always at the top of our minds. However, just like fundraising, a
strategic talent management approach can help build and maintain our talent
pipeline. In an ongoing talent crunch, that is crucial not only for large organizations
but for all. Still, as employees, we should not expect that every organization will
embrace talent management. Be proactive. No-one else will manage our career for
us. Get in, perform, get noticed and move up.
(Phil) Gérard has been a
fundraising professional for 14 years in the community service, education and
university advancement sectors. His
specialty is major gifts fundraising. An MBA with a human resource management
specialization set him on the exciting path of fundraising talent management.
He is a director of advancement with Simon Fraser University and teaches as
an adjunct instructor in Georgian
College's Fundraising and Resource Development Program. Phil is also the
President of Gérard Consulting -
Fundraising Talent Management and author of Phil's Careers Blog. His firm
helps fundraisers find a great career and organizations find and retain the
next great colleague.