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    Managing the Talent Pipeline

    In 2017, the nonprofit sector will face many new challenges. In the US, a new administration – and possible policy changes – will require close attention.  Globally, technology will continue to bring us together in more robust, immediate ways – as well as making charitable giving easier than ever.  Despite these emerging trends, nonprofits will continue to struggle with a familiar, recurring topic: talent management.

    Goodwill® has not been not immune from the “war for talent.” We have, however, been proactive in our approach to the issue.  In the paragraphs below, I share some of our insights and lessons learned as a result of our work in this area.

    Talent Management – Definition and Importance

    Before Goodwill could address our challenges related to talent management, we needed to understand what we were up against. The autonomous Goodwill organizations hire everyone from retail store employees and district managers to IT directors and CEOs.

    For Goodwill, talent management refers to the broad process of ensuring we have the right mix of skills and competencies to meet current and future business requirements.

    Working with definition has been helpful in several ways:

    Market shifts/Competition – Social enterprises have become globally recognized organizational structures, providing both economic and social value to all types of stakeholders. Goodwill was a pioneer in social business, but the marketplace becomes more crowded each year. Talent management helps us plan for needed human resources as well as donations and customers.

    Operational demands – Shrinking resources and increased market challenges require Goodwill organizations to reduce expenses, deal with rapid change, and build and manage teams of employees with much broader skill sets.

    Pipeline depletion – Millions of traditionalists and baby boomers have retired over the last several years — and more will follow in the decade to come. The remaining generations are smaller in size, resulting in a significant reduction in the amount of talent available to fill critical roles.

    Skill gaps – Much of the current labor market is comprised of individuals who possess excellent technical skills but lack the critical interpersonal skills required to lead and succeed in today’s climate.

    Talent Management – Execution

    A clear understanding of the issue at hand has allowed us to also recognize that any good talent development program consists of several important elements.  These include:

    Recruiting – We need to maintain a high-quality sourcing strategy, using all appropriate in-person, print, social and digital tools to attract candidates and organize data.

    Candidate selection – We strive for well-designed and thorough interview processes that involve the proper organizational audiences.

    Professional development plans – Each team member should have a professional development plan that has been co-constructed with their supervisor – and that is articulated and reviewed regularly. These plans should address two important areas:

    • Skill training – Items focused on goals that directly support the agency’s strategy and mission.
    • Career planning – Items driven by team member professional development goals.

    Succession planning – Use of an assessment-based plan to provide the skills and leadership required for the organization to thrive into the foreseeable future.

    Performance management – We work to ensure that all team member performance is reviewed regularly. Feedback and learning from these meetings helps to update performance goals, individual development plans, and organizational succession plans.

    Retention – In addition to career path conversations and development plans, we work hard to employ all other reasonable tactics retain high potential team members.

    Qualified workforce supply/Demand match – Our organizational leaders are aware of the external environment and its impact on Goodwill. Important items here include understanding fluctuating stakeholder and customer requirements, labor market data, and legislative and regulatory requirements impacting organizational talent.

    Managing the talent pipeline for any nonprofit is challenging.  However, by leveraging the data and processes included here, Goodwill has been able to have success in this area. Over the next four weeks, we’ll build on this conversation, adding resources and specific examples of successful tactics.


    Senior Director of Leadership Development at Goodwill Industries International
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