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Human Resources Guide for Small Nonprofits:
So, Who's Supposed to Do the Hiring?

Okay, so now you know what you're all about. But whose job is it to deal with all of the hiring stuff? You're all busy, you're all overworked, but you all have a stake in who gets hired. There is probably some best-practice formula for who should take on this responsibility, but you know your organization and staff. What will work best for you?

There's the team approach...then there's the leave-it-up-to-the-Executive Director approach...or, if you're looking for a replacement, you could make the person leaving do it. Whoever ultimately takes on the task, it's important to involve everyone to some extent; hiring a new person before soliciting staff input is asking for trouble. Small organizations are constantly evolving. As needs change, so do jobs. Bringing in a new person is an opportunity to retool the distribution of work to better fit your current state and make everyone's job a little easier.

Polling your entire staff may reveal needs you wouldn't have considered. For example, you may find that several staff members have been frustrated not having someone in-house that understands a particular computer program or speaks a particular language. While you may not make those skills requirements for the new person, you might weigh applicants a little differently if you are aware of those needs.

Deciding who should ultimately be responsible for the hiring process can be tricky. Whatever you decide, make sure that the process and responsibilities are clear to everyone! The power of the small organization lies in the ability of the staff to operate as a team. The consequences of miscommunication can change the climate of your organization and make it harder for everyone to work together. As you make your decision, consider the following:

Things to consider...

  • Who has the best idea of what the job is all about?
  • Who has enough time to take on this task without jeopardizing other work?
  • Should you involve people other than staff, e.g., board members?
  • If you choose the committee approach, what's your quorum? Do you need 100% agreement to make a decision?

"When our small organization needed to hire a new development director, we ran into a difficult interpersonal situation. Everyone thought it was the Executive Director's responsibility to find the candidates, including the E.D. The E.D. conducted interviews and found a candidate she liked, then invited her to come meet the rest of the staff to get a better feel for the organization. The E.D. intended to offer the candidate the position if she found the job suitable. The staff, however, thought that this meeting was an opportunity for them to evaluate the candidate and then offer their opinions as to whether or not she was appropriate. So, when the woman arrived and tried to engage staff members in casual conversation, they were confused. When the woman left, feeling significantly out of place, the staff was angry with the E.D. and a bitter argument followed, leaving everyone unhappy and feeling undervalued."


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