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Talent Management Talk #3 – Talent management in the NFP sector (featuring Tania Hannath)

In this week’s Talent Management Talk I’m joined by Tania Hannath – Director at People Axis. Tania has worked across both not-for-profit and for-profit companies. So she’s perfectly placed to compare different approaches in talent and performance management in the two sectors.

Tania’s extensive experience and strong opinions made for a great discussion around culture and behaviours, 360 feedback, setting goals and performance reviews. She’s also recently done some really interesting work in performance management for boards. We dive into that topic at 7 minutes 30 seconds.

Watch our 10-minute discussion or read the transcript below. If this is an area you have experience in or you have questions about, let me know via the comments or on Twitter; @cognology

Talent Management talk

 

Jon:
Hey everybody and welcome to Talent Management Talk. I’m Jon Windust, the CEO of Cognology, and I’m here today with Tania Hannath who is an expert HR consultant and who also happens to do a lot of work in the not-for-profit space.

Culture and behaviours in not-for-profit organisations

This is going to be really interesting because… culture: how do you actually build that culture? How do you start to instil that in the organisation?

Tania:
We know that there are many things that impact culture. For me, two of the greatest levers are leadership – the quality of leadership – and then also your performance management system. But ultimately where you want to start is to define what does this culture look like?

So if I am working in this organisation, what does it feel like? What does it look like? When people are working at their best with colleagues. When they’re working at their best with the people we are servicing. What are they doing? What are their key behaviours? And defining those.

Jon:
So one of the first things you’re doing is creating that set of behaviours, defining that set of behaviours? To me, one of the things I find really useful about behaviours and one of the reasons I think they’re such a good tool. Apart from being a very clear description of an expectation, they can be used by managers as a tool in everyday conversation or in a one-on-one with a team member. Yes, I think they’re really critical as a tool for leaders to help them in managing their staff.

Tania:
Very much so Jon. The other thing is that people are joining these not-for-profits because they’re passionate about the purpose and mission. So it’s fundamental that the organisation helps them to see how that culture fits the purpose and the mission. But also how the work that they do and their department does, fits that culture and the mission. Because if they can’t see that… They’re not joining for the money! They don’t have the short-term and the long-term incentive benefits that you have in the for-profit world.

They’re joining really for that purpose of the organisation. And when they can’t see how they contribute and how the organisation is inwardly replicating what it’s doing externally, from a cultural perspective, they are disillusioned far quicker than in a for-profit world.

Jon:
Okay, that’s really interesting.

How to deliver 360 feedback in NFPs

Can we talk a little bit about 360? You’ve mentioned 360-degree feedback and I’m just sort of wondering, is there something about 360-degree feedback in the not-for-profit world that’s different to the for-profit world? It sort of seems that it might be a more difficult thing to implement in the not-for-profit world or am I sort of missing something there?

Tania:
I think there is a barrier. I don’t know that the not-for-profit world sees it but there is a barrier around “we are different, we have a very philanthropic purpose.” If it’s a faith-based not-for-profit: “we don’t want some standard 360,” or: “we need to really customise because we are so unique.” Well, we have many for-profit clients who also tell us, “We are very different from other organisations,” but definitely I think where we start to get into faith-based not-for-profits and the whole philanthropic aspect of not-for-profits, they see themselves as very different.

So 360’s, in particular the Cognology tool, is highly customisable. So with those clients, I can have that conversation to say, “You can help me design these questions,” or “you have a go at the questions you want and I’ll look at them and make sure they’re behaviourable based and simple and written in verbs and things that are rateable.” I think once we get over that hurdle…

I mean the other thing I think sometimes, because we’ve got people in not-for-profit space who are very relational, the feedback is sometimes nicer… than in the for-profit [world], so maybe not always as honest!

The importance of setting goals

Jon:
What do you think about the argument that some people use: “Well, goals, they’re just too difficult and you shouldn’t set them in the first place.”

Tania:
It’s a total copout!

Jon:
Okay. That’s that!

Tania:
I mean accountability! It’s probably one of the things that frustrates me: “We want more participation. We want more engagement. We want more consultation in organisations” – but we won’t be accountable.

Jon:
Yes.

Tania:
Those two things go hand-in-hand.

Jon:
The other thing that some people might miss about goals, one of the benefits of them, is being able to give people a lot more autonomy in their roles. Essentially what you’re doing through the goal is giving them accountability, and that then allows you to give those people a lot more autonomy in their roles. It should lead to a much happier work place if people have got more control over how they do things.

How performance reviews differ in NFPs

The other thing that interests me here is that generally around review time every year, here in Australia being July/August, you start to see articles calling for the end of the performance review. I find this really curious because here you are saying, “This is one of the key tools that you’re using to improve accountability and culture in not-for-profit organisations,” what are you doing right that other people are missing?

Tania:
It would be interesting to actually know or have a look at those performance reviews that those writers are talking about Jon, and we don’t have perhaps an insight into that. I’m saying that because a really close friend of mine the other day, we were sitting having a coffee, and she said, “Oh, I’ve got my performance review in a few hours. I thought you’d be interested to have a look.” She gave it to me because she knows the work that I do in organisations, and it was a tick-box exercise.

Jon:
Oh, ouch.

Tania:
I looked at her and said, “But I know that you have different portfolios and different responsibilities, so how [is that] reflect[ed] in this document and where are you going to talk about what you’ve achieved?” I looked at my friend and I know what she does and I know how much she gives to her organisation and I looked at this document and there was a big disconnect.

Jon:
Yes.

Tania:
So if those writers are talking about those processes, they are not beneficial. They may be a HR process where you can tick it off from a risk and a compliance perspective but I’m not convinced that they add to that.

So [I’m] obviously a big advocate for tailoring questions. If we’re going to ask questions on behaviours and culture and values – that those are   tailored, they have been co-designed, that there’s communication around those in the organisation and they sit in the review.

Jon:
Yes, and you do something with the end results.

Tania:
Yes.

Can 360 feedback work for boards?

Jon:
So tell me about this 360 feedback for boards. That just seems… I mean board performance, we don’t normally think about it do we? And actually managing the performance of boards. How do you actually do that?

Tania:
For me it’s also been very exciting because for… let’s just call it 20 (it’s more) but for 20 years working in organisations, in terms of performance management and 360, through the CEO and then to the top of that organisation chart which is the board itself.

It’s pretty exciting to see the whole gamut of that organisation embrace these things because the paradox has often been (and here I’m talking about boards generally) that we’re going to hold the executive management accountable. We’re going to assess their performance but we are quite quiet about what we have been doing.

Jon:
But often you can get really massive issues with boards, can’t you?

Tania:
Yes. So post the GFC, we do see a whole lot of movement around requirements of boards. Out of that GFC, issues in terms of corporate governance, issues around executive remuneration.

The ASX, in terms of their governance recommendations and also principles – basically in July 2014 have put out some additional principles. And one of those first principles is around wanting (so we’re talking about ASX boards) to actually report on how they’re evaluating their boards…

Jon:
Right.

Tania:
And the board, the individuals, the directors on the board, and also the board subcommittees. So that gives you a flavour for what is happening in the for-profit space and I think it’s a great opportunity in the not-for-profit space, given the things that we’ve talked about, given the money that’s been entrusted by donors, given the money that’s been given by government to this particular sector, there is a great opportunity for the sector to build stronger relationships with these donors. To show greater transparency by saying, “Look, this is one of the ways in which we do good governance. We are prepared to evaluate ourselves as individuals and the work we’re doing, and our subcommittees and the board as a whole.”

Jon:
Alright, look, it’s been an absolutely fascinating discussion. I really thank you for sharing your expertise with us today. Thanks.

Tania:
Thank you.