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What Anonymous Feedback Will (and Won’t) Tell You

Need to do an employee survey? Conventional wisdom says it should completed confidentially. What is the problem? Lack of trust if employees can’t provide constructive criticism in an open manner. Some great insight in the HBR article below.

A survey evaluating a team’s performance can be a powerful tool for making that team more effective. And the first message that consultants and HR professionals often communicate on these surveys is: “To ensure that the team gets the best data and feels protected, we will make sure responses are confidential.” The widespread assumption is that if team members know their answers are confidential, they will respond honestly. But if you ask for confidential feedback, it might create the very results you are trying to avoid.

If team members are reluctant to have their names associated with their responses, then you’ve already identified what is probably the most significant problem in your team — lack of trust. Leaders routinely insist that team members be accountable as a team, so the logic follows that they should also be accountable for giving good, critical feedback. But enabling respondents to comment without being linked to their responses actually catalyzes the situation the survey is designed to overcome: It seeks to create increased accountability using a process that lacks transparency and precludes accountability.

via What Anonymous Feedback Will (and Won’t) Tell You – Roger Schwarz – Harvard Business Review.

Why should I invest in improving the Constituent experience at my nonprofit?

It is reasonable to ask, if my nonprofit invests in the constituent experience, will it work? If you are in the C-Suite, that is the question.

I only know of one nonprofit that uses something like the Forrester Customer Experience Index to measure things so I don’t have any benchmark data. I would love to learn there are more nonprofits using this measure and I would give anything to analyze the data. Here is what we know from the for profit world.

This question drove Watermark Consulting to evaluate the macro impact of customer experience excellence. They’ve accomplished this over the years by studying the total returns for two model stock portfolios comprised of the Top 10 (“Leaders”) and Bottom 10 (“Laggards”) publicly traded companies in Forrester Research’s annual Customer Experience Index ranking. The results are stunning.

For the 6-year period from 2007 to 2012, the Customer Experience Leaders in their study outperformed the broader market, generating a total return that was three times higher on average than the S&P 500 Index. Furthermore, while the Customer Experience Leaders handily beat the S&P 500, the Laggards trailed it by a wide margin.

Keep in mind, this analysis reflects more than half a decade of performance results.  It spans an entire economic cycle, from the pre-recession market peak in 2007 to the post-recession recovery that continues today. The Customer Experience Leaders in this study are clearly enjoying the many benefits that happy, loyal customers deliver:  better retention, greater wallet share, lower acquisition costs and more cost-efficient service.

And the Laggards?  They are being crushed under the weight of high customer turnover, escalating acquisition costs and an uncompetitive cost structure that is inflated by each customer complaint and avoidable inquiry.

 

Do you want to be a leader or a laggard?

” It’s easier to focus on one number than it is to focus on a life.” ~Seth Godin

Here is the context.

Measuring without measuring

 

As an organization grows and industrializes, it’s tempting to simplify things for the troops. Find a goal, make it a number and measure it until it gets better. In most organizations, the thing you measure is the thing that will improve.

Colleges decided that the SAT were a useful shortcut, a way to measure future performance in college. And nervous parents and competitive kids everywhere embraced the metric, and stick with it, even after seeing (again and again) that all the SAT measures is how well you do on the SAT. It’s easier to focus on one number than it is to focus on a life.

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“The genius of leadership is its humanness and heart.” ~Lolly Daskal

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“The best advice that I can offer you is to learn the language of the C-Suite when making the case for what it is you believe is the right thing to do.” ~Brian Solis

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“Some bosses say ‘but I’m not paid to be a shrink.’ There’s a great pair of words to describe such bosses: Ignorant. Ineffective.” ~Tom Peters

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Guest Blog: Deborah Kerr – Nonprofit Talent Management

Deborah L. Kerr, Ph.D. is a performance measurement expert and a co-founding partner of Affintus, a pre-employment assessment company based in Austin, Texas. Her work in performance measurement and management has been written Deborah Kerrabout in Financial World magazine and has been cited as “best practice” by SHRM. Her approach and success with organizational measurement were featured in Paul Niven’s 2002 book Balanced Scorecard Step by Step and Mohan Nair’s 2004 book Essentials of the Balanced Scorecard. Deborah led the development of the one of the nation’s first public sector balanced scorecards and in 2004, that measurement system was recognized as one of the world’s best when it was elected to the Balanced Scorecard Hall of Fame. She is on the graduate faculty of Texas A&M University where she teaches management, public policy theory, and organizational performance measurement. Her teaching has been recognized with the University’s 2008 Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching (based on nomination and support from current and former graduate students) and with the 2009 Silver Star Award given by the Class of 2009 for outstanding service and dedication.

Nonprofit Talent Management

Employee costs generally make up more than 50 percent of a nonprofit’s budget so nonprofit talent management is critical to the health of every nonprofit’s “bottom line”.  This will be highlighted as the economy continues to grow and nonprofits face two major workforce trends:  the need to add staff to meet demand and the reality of losing experienced staff to retirement or “better” jobs.

Adding nonprofit staff has been a trend for the last three years.  Nonprofit HR Solutions’ 2013 survey of 588 nonprofits found that 40 percent added new staff in 2012 and 44 percent plan to create more new positions this year.  Turnover is expected to remain at 17 percent in 2013, the same as 2012, but voluntary turnover and retirement now account for 11 percent of total turnover.  This may grow as the economy’s recovery leads to more job options for good employees.

After hiring, retention of good employees is key to sustainability, but in the Nonprofit HR Solution study 90 percent of respondents reported they have no retention strategy even though they see it as a challenge.  Losing good employees is expensive.  Writing for http://www.philanthropy.com, Raymund Flandez found the average tenure of a fundraiser is only 16 months and the direct and indirect costs of replacing that fundraiser add up to a staggering $127,650!   For other employees hiring costs range from 25 percent to over 100 percent depending on the job and responsibilities.

Here are strategies that work to improve hiring decisions, reduce voluntary turnover, and improve workforce retention.

Hire the right person in the first place.

Most organizations have made at least one hiring mistake in the last 12 months and report spending thousands of dollars to fix it. Hiring mistakes are not only expensive, they negatively affect the morale of other employees and can damage donor relations.  Hiring the right person, on the other hand, results in 10 percent – 50 percent higher productivity and revenues.

Why is hiring so hard?  Most nonprofits base hiring decisions on resume reviews and interviews.  Yet over 50 percent of resumes contain erroneous information and applicants can be coached on interviewing tactics, so decision data may be flawed.  The best way to get objective, accurate talent data is to use pre-hire assessments – candidates can’t “fake” assessment responses as they can fake interview responses or experience on a resume.  Be sure to use an assessment validated for pre-hire use, one that matches job requirements with applicant preferences and strengths.

Pay attention to pay

In a 2012 study, Penelope Burke of Cygnus Applied Research surveyed 1700 fundraisers and 8000 nonprofit CEOs.  She found that good fundraisers begin to be recruited away after only three to six months in a position!  She reports that it would cost about $46,000 to keep a good fundraiser happy by providing better salaries and other benefits like more vacation… a bargain compared to $127,650!

The best pay strategy is to match the market rate for the job whenever possible.The closer pay is to the market rate, the less likely an employee will think about quitting.  When employees find the work interesting and feel valued, most will not look for a new job as long as the pay is competitive in their geographic area and the industry.

Pay is not the most important factor in most decisions to stay in a job or to quit, but it is one of the top reasons employees choose to stay when they are offered another job.  Fundraisers are an exception – most report that higher pay is the number one reason they leave current jobs.  Helping someone decide to stay rather than take a new job saves money every time.

Be flexible

Research has repeatedly found that a flexible work schedule is a key reason for staying with the current organization when an employee is offered employment by another organization.Flexible work schedules improve employee satisfaction and productivity while helping to reduce absenteeism.

Let managers to handle employee scheduling requests on a case-by-case basis or permit cross-trained employees to “trade” hours as needed to meet both business and personal demands on employees.  The key is to be as flexible as possible while meeting the needs of the business.

The bottom line?  Talent management is an increasingly important driver of nonprofit sustainability and every investment in hiring and retaining good talent goes straight to the bottom line.  With projections for increased service demand in 2013, nonprofits must continue to grow the workforce while trying to hire and retain high performers. Now is the time to review talent practices and make the changes needed to reduce costs and improve bottom line performance.

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