It’s the Achilles’ heel of development shops. After months of interviewing and vetting potential candidates for a position, an offer is made and accepted. From there you invest endless time and energy to ensure that your new staff member has a wonderful onboarding experience. Your new colleague begins to make connections, ingratiating themselves with internal stakeholders and major donors, all the while getting valuable database training and other competency-building support. Then, after 18 short-months, your new colleague leaves for another job. And so begins (again) the thankless task of recruiting for their vacant position.
How can you avoid this more-often-than-not scenario? Simple…. treat others as you would like to be treated in the workplace (i.e. the Golden Rule). Here are three things to think about:
First, vet candidates well from the start – and above all make sure that they want to work at your organization and for you. Ensure that they interview you as much as you interview them. They have much more to lose than you do if they make the wrong choice. Not to mention that it will comfort the candidate to know that you care about them even before they join your team.
Second, allow them to blossom, take chances, assume projects, and simply “own” a part of your team’s workplan from the start. You wouldn’t want someone breathing down your neck and neither does your new employee. It may be uncomfortable to give autonomy at first, but if you’ve hired a good professional (and person) this approach should pay dividends immediately.
Third, offer flexibility in every sense of the word. Flexibility in how they approach the work (your way is not the only “highway”), flexibility in work/life balance (again, you would appreciate this, too), and job duties. The latter doesn’t necessarily happen during the first six months, but letting your employee know from day one that you are committed to their growth and professional development will go a long way toward building their confidence in you as a manager. The message to them is that good work does get noticed and it does get rewarded. Not necessarily with titles and raises (that hopefully comes later), but with opportunities to learn new competencies – even if it’s not in their scope of duty.
Development managers and leaders have many philosophies when it comes to recruiting and retaining good talent. Obviously relying on what works best for you is important as are your instincts and gut feelings. But hopefully you can take something away from the principles above that will allow you to build a great team of dedicated development professionals. Remember, treat others as you would like to be treated!