#Working4HRM- HRM in the Nonprofit Sector…bread, love and dreams?

Marco Crescenzi | 7 October 2016

I would like to thank colleagues from our partner NGOs’ who are participating in the ‘Working4HRM’ on the Social Change School’s Blog. I have been asked to ‘close’ this first turn. Personally, one of the most pleasant returns on the HRM topic, since 1998, the year in which I published “The Nonprofit Manager” with Sperling& Kupefr, book that mainly dealt on specific topics, that brought to be enlightening to many of my colleagues in or out of the sector. I would also like to thank Elena Quaglia Faccio (Resp. for the Editorial Project) and Dora Lisa Mercurio (Career Service Officer of the School) and all the staff of the School for a job well done .

I accept the invitation with pleasure, underlining- in a completely partial and unsystematic way- some of the points that positively caught my attention.

We started by launching the topics both on this Blog and also on ‘Il Fatto Quotidiano’, by kicking off with some questions on:

  • ‘mismatching’ between request and offer: how is it possible that many NGOs do not find the “right” resources despite such a wide offer and in part surely qualified  (Working4-HRM, the new project with the NGOs’ HRM, Marco Crescenzi, Blog4Change)

From those initial topics, the open comparison has freely expressed sensitivity and ideas, touching other points and enlarging the map.

Paola Cocchi, HRM Amref Health Africa, in her post #Working4- Let’s find the right person inside our NGO with her characteristic neatness of intelligence, invites the NGOs to primiarily “…look inside themselves. Yes, because often the right person already collaborates with us. The trainee, the intern, the employee who wanted to do something else from a long time, the local staff who cooperate from years on the field, the volunteer who makes himself/herself available for free. Get off your PC, talk and go around the offices…How many vacancies would be filled if we really knew the people we collaborate with?”

Emanuelle Lacroix, Partnership Development Manager for Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation  and also People Capacity & Development Manager- for People in Aid, supports me in the considerations on the recruitment in her post “ #Working4HRM – Some tips on managing your career in the non-profit world: “It is not only about hiring a candidate with the right technical skills, experience, and resilience for the role – it’s also about finding someone who fits well within the team, the program, and the organizational culture as a whole.” I have really appreciated Emmanuelle’s reference to the business culture “A good fit with the organization’s culture probably counts as much as a skills and experience, especially because productive relationships and collaborations have such huge impacts on the efficiency of teams and ultimately operations.”  It would be like planting a (maybe splendid) Azalea in an alkaline ground and expecting it to grow well just by being watered and fertilized.

On the topic of the ‘PERSON’ before than the resource, in the post – Non profit. Human Training..or not?- (Formazione umana…o no?) – I was very self-critical, asking myself a merciless question- “Are we sure that the people who work with us, will improve from the human point of view, and not from the opposite?’

I have been then very grateful to verity that this worry was not just mine, and not even naif:  Maria Diricatti, from Lav, 17 years of experience as HRM, in her post #Working4- Towards the “being” modality- (Verso la modalità dell’essere) thoroughly relaunched the theme by inviting the ‘HRM’ to a full  responsibilities assumption: “Today, after 17 years of professional experience, but above all of my individual development, I find myself, one more time, building a system of evaluation for the performance, the questions I ask the management are: why not focus on enhancing the qualities  and skills of the people? Why not move the focal point from what can be improvable to what is unique and precious in the individuals and head towards increasing the complementarity between the individuals in a team? The real change would occur when the attention shitfs from the “to do modality” to the “to be modality”,  in the working context, where historically, people are asked to “do”. I believe that the responsibility of that change is in our hands HR, or as I prefer to call myself, P&O (People and Organisation).”

Some colleagues preferred to touch the theme of the Performance Management and they did with competences and real experience – not academic- that characterizes them, limited by the tyrant few lines of a post.

Zeno Filippi from Amnesty International, in  #Working4 – Performance Management: Working with and evaluating Human Resources in the NGOs starts from Top Employer’s last research “PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENTcarried out with about 600 organisations in 96 countries, with a sample of about 3000 employees that highlights at least three trends of development of the performance management. 

Reporting that one of the trends is “Coaching and accountability”, he states: “The correlation between the introduction of a new performance evaluation tool and the effective rise of the working performance is not obvious at all. Training the professionals with coaching competences can be a good start for the implementation of a climate of trust, accountability and relationships that are functional to the aim.” And he coherently asks himself:”Do we train professionals responsible for coaching?”

Moreover, he concludes with a funny (but dramatically serious) taxonomy of the NGO’s internal coaching and the wrong styles to avoid, among which a particularly dangerous one, in which I believe, all of us in the non profit ended up to meet sooner or later, maybe with a charismatic ‘founder’: “The psicantropo.. Italian word for a person who, having psychological knowledges, is transformed into the stereotype of the wild psychologist…” Who has not ran into such an individual at least once?

Simone Sgueo, from Save the Children, in #Working4HRM- Smart Working  reflects in an articulated way on the advantages of the “smart working”, the use of the technologies and of the teleworking: “As Save the Children, on one side, we fully agreed with some of the logics (…) of the smart-working in general, and in particular, we confirm that this immediately returns us three clear advantages:

Management and costs efficiency (an office less full, more spaces for the employees, better rationalization of the work areas)

Staff satisfaction: fits between the most appreciated benefits and often better considered by the candidates whom the recruitment package is given to, as the wide time flexibility as well.

Better performance results: the possibility to work from home, often gives back a major quality in the objectives achievement.

Moreover, months ago, I discussed with Daniela Fatarella, Vice Director of Save the Children (our former student of the fundraising master in 1999 and now a dear friend) on the advantages and problems of introducing the ‘360 degree evaluation’ in the organisations, as it was an experiment done in Save the Children.

Also Emmanuelle Lacroix focuses on the PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT, in her second post, “Agile Performance Management in an Agile Organisation”, she relates the engagement and the ‘agile organisation’: “So how do we unlock this engagement? … Starting to develop more agility within an organization is a good place to start. What do we mean by agility? According to one of our reports, it is how strongly an organization can react and adapt to changes in its operational contexts and how quickly it recognizes and closes its workforce’s skills gaps…. From this foundational statement, we see how learning and performance management are intrinsically linked”.

One of her main suggestion is a ‘low budget’: “Expand learning. Capacity development makes more sense to all of us when it’s relevant and directly applicable to our day-to-day activities.  Find ways to use embedded learning approaches such as after-action reviews, customer feedback cycles, job rotations/shadowing, and peer learning groups to maximize experiential and reflective learning. Many of these approaches do not necessarily require budgets and can be implemented as part of team’s work plans and existing knowledge sharing practices.”

Paraphrasing Comencini’s marvelous neorealist movie “Bread, love and dreams” (with Vittorio De  Sica and Gina Lollobrigida)? Bread (this refers to what we would like to have as opposed to what we actually possess, given a low budget), Love (‘people first’- care and attention to the human and professional growth of individuals) and Dreams (using intelligence, technology, peer2peer, 360 degree feedback, before the matching algorithms and complex evaluation systems, the matrices of (my beloved) Harvard Business Review?

That could possibly be the solution, from our humble beginings still what we have now,  with an ambition of finding what we need, like welcoming of the best talents into the sector. This is one of the primary objectives of the Social Change School, that year after year we produce qualified individuals to increase the recruitment basins.

Surely “we should look inside ourselves”; into our organisations’ beautiful and complicated present. So, why do we not do it together, from our different points of views, stories and human management, scientific experiences, by creating a better contact and also exchanging live experiences?

Thanks everyone, we will be in touch soon…for now, we are waiting for you for our second turn!

Summary of the quoted contributes:

M. Crescenzi, Il Fatto Quotidiano

M.Crescenzi, Blog4Change

Paola Cocchi, HRM Amref Health Africa, #Working4- Let’s find the right person inside our NGO

Emanuelle Lacroix, Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation, #Working4HRM – Some tips on managing your career in the non-profit world and #Working4HRM-“Agile Performance Management in an Agile Organisation,

Zeno Filippi, Amnesty International  #Working4 – Performance Management: Working with and evaluating Human Resources in the NGOs

Simone Sgueo, Save the Children, #Working4HRM- Smart Working 

Maria Diricatti, Lav, #Working4- Towards the “being” modality-Verso la modalità dell’essere


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