Every week I look at HisAir.net and see the latest in who is going where. It’s exciting to see good people moving up to new challenges. At the same I know as a boss that finding good people today is hard. So keeping them is very important. There’s nothing worse than spending a lot of time in recruiting someone, training them and then seeing them leave in a short time. What can you do? Here are some things I have learned to help keep good people.
Pay them fairly. This is one topic that requires the board set a Compensation Philosophy. What is a fair amount to pay someone who works in a non-profit and what is the standard? When there is an opening, from what places do you search? I am not one who believes that because someone who works in a nonprofit should be paid less than others in similar positions in the same industry. If someone makes $75,000 at another organization in the same industry, why would I expect them to take $50,000 because they are at a nonprofit. That is like asking them to make a $25,000 donation! Also, if your organization wants to best people who are fully committed to your organization, why pay them less which may force them to get a second job?
Honor their service in a meaningful way. People are different but everyone likes to be honored. Honor their length of service with a plaque, public recognition, financial gift, time off or whatever else to let them know their service is meaningful.
Pour resources into them. If you are a faith-based organization, find spiritual resources to invest in them. The more you pour into them on the front end, the less problems you will have on the back end. Help make them a great supervisor, help them achieve their personal goals, help them grow. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can bring in someone to replace them. Sometimes it’s easier to work with the person you know than to bring another person on with another set of problems. One of the most powerful questions you can ask is “What I can do to make you a success?”
Value them. People are more important than projects. Everyone wants to feel valued. Focus on helping them develop who they are. Do surveys like StrengthFinders to identify their strengths and then make sure they are operating in a place where they can maximize those strengths. When they mess up (and we all do), let them know they are valued first. Don’t let the problem come between you and them. Instead approach the problems they are facing as a teammate who wants to help them. I have heard of one organization that sends gifts cards and a note to the employee’s spouse to let them know how great the employee is and how much the organization appreciates the spouse for their support. What a great way to demonstrate value!
Care for them. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to funerals, hospitals and called people when they have had serious life issues. Sometimes a leader of any organization is more like a pastor than a boss. You might be thinking that you are not an emotional person. You don’t have to cry with them – just showing up sends a huge message that you care. I also believe in “management by wandering around.” Get out of your office and take the time to see the staff. Check in and see how they are doing. If you have a lot of staff – take notes so you can remember their specific situation. And if you really want to show you care, know their spouse’s name, their kid’s names and their grandkids.
Tim McDermott spent 27 years leading the growth and worldwide impact of KSBJ in Houston. He is now the COO of PraiseLive and continues to help other Christian radio stations grow. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.