EDITORIAL. NGOs- I had a dream: Happy professionals in efficient organisations

Considering just the CV and the previous experience, or investing on the potential of a person? Considering more the Hard Skills or the Soft Skills, the Competences or the Motivation? How will the technological innovation, the big data and the algorithms change (a lot) the work of the HRMs? Are we considering enough the ‘Organisational Culture’ in which people, competences, management and strategies interact? Finally, how to increase the satisfaction level and why not, the happiness of those who works in our organisations?

Those are some of the questions that have emerged, with answers in some cases  healthily opposed, in the debate on the Human Resources in the NGOs,  that saw the participation of many ‘HRMs’ of the sector in the Conference Working4HRM- held in Rome on the 25th of November and organised by the Social Change School.

I will try to sum up some of them, and offer some synthesis without simplifying them too much.

CV and past experience in the role vs Potential, future, malleability. For some, it is strong the need of having well codified profiles such as ‘Project Administrator’- “that provide good security margins to work on the field(Mauro Rivolta, Coopi), whereas others prefer to invest into less codified profiles, or junior, with a set of in progress competences: “stop looking at what the person has done and look at the potential, as the sceneries change.” (Zeno Filippi, Amnesty International Italia).

The risks are in the first case, to work with people that are technically skilled, but not very motivated, ‘mercenaries’ or ‘old fashioned’ and who are not interested in adapting to mutant scenerios and stakeholders; in the second case a ‘risky’ investment. An intermediate solution, according to Mauro Rivolta (Coopi) can be to do well-done internal stages, with people with qualified backgrounds- ‘basic competences’, and e-learning programmes for the expatriates. I would also add a consideration on the set of ‘transferable skills’ from a sector to another (e.g. for profit-non profit, or non profit- non profit), the coaching in support of the entry into the role of the Junior professionals, more refined recruitment methods based on ‘out of the box’ interviews, in order to have an in depth knowledge on the capacities of the applicants and reduce the error margins.

Hard Skills vs Soft Skills; I had already talked about this theme in 1998 in my book ‘The Non profit Manager’, and I am glad to demonstrate how the choice of the junior profiles is more oriented towards the ‘soft’ skills, and it is also getting more important in the senior profiles. In a technical profile such as the Project Manager, the lack of sensibility, capacities of listening, sharing, can be deleterious for the project’s quality, and sometimes it is better a project manager with an anthropology background and who works ‘bottom up’ rather than an engineer who does the ‘top down’. According to Gianpaolo Montini (DG Peter Pan Onlus Association), “ we need people able to face the changes and the unexpected, able to unify, relate, optimistic about the future also in the critical moments”. I also agree with Simona Rigoni (Oxfam) when she sais that “the technical competences are raising a lot, and it is not easy to recruit and hold high level professionals’’. For what concerns us, in the admission stage to the Masters of the profiles under 30 in Europe, the soft dimensions and motivation are the main concerns, above that there has to be a careful balance.

Motivation vs Competences: According to Maria di Ricatti (LAV, yet MSF) “one of the main challenges of the recruitment in the non profit, is to balance competences and motivation”, the first ones without the second one are sterile. In the medium and long term, motivation is the winning dimension, it is only with it that competences improve and transform.

In the final intervention, I allowed myself to introduce other three ‘dichotomies’:

Competences vs ‘Organisational Culture’: can we insert a skilled person but that does not fit in the internal organisational culture? For example an ‘administrative’ profile in a culture that strongly tends towards the result, or a “cold” manager in a participative and sensible culture? It is fundamental that each organisation explicits and shares its principles, enunciating them not as abstract values, but as behavioural models, in a set of concrete desirable and undesirable behaviours. Peter Druker, famous theorist of the non profit management, affirmed that ‘Culture eats strategies for breakfast’, and I would also add to the breakfast Competences and Management.

‘Manual skills vs Technological Innovation”: we will have always more possibility to slim down the candidates in the recruitment process on an algorithmic basis (with Federico Atzori, we showed some platforms, included JobandTalent and  Textkernel  ), to arrive to a research on the social medias, until the point to make the old CV just a memory. Also in the decision, we will be helped by a partial automation, here I recommend the article ‘In Hiring Algorithms beat instinct’ on HBR-Harvard Business Review (a necessary newspaper).

Same trend on the evaluation, today more advanced, the 360 degree feedback, can go on specialised apps, already used in other sectors where big data are used. As well to determine the salary, no more syndicates (which ones/where?) but on ‘salary‘ from LinkedIn, to ‘discovering your earning potential’

Finally, a last proposed dichotomy, Motivation vs Satisfaction. Many presidents and managers in our organisations, think that there is a “motivation” problem. In reality, the problem is simpler and it is the satisfaction, which depends on the lack of listening, excessively frustrated expectations, by having perceived strong incoherence in the organisation, uncomfortable work environment, being paid late, too many objectives. Improvable management, let’s say…

I believe that a common dream can be ‘happy professionals in effective organisations’. Where the internal wellbeing, has equal dignity than the ‘results/external stakeholders’.

Why don’t we work on it together? We are in.

Have a look also to the Editorial 1-  What is the value of a child?, and the interventions of the HRM colleagues on Blog4Change.

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