Time Saving Shortcut for Assessing the Talent In Your Organization

According to Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO)’s recent national study of philanthropic practice, “Nonprofits still don’t have the resources they need to respond to new opportunities, leadership transitions or changes in their environment.”

This sentiment is echoed throughout the sector and serves as a wake-up call for the nonprofit ecosystem. While the funder stream is slowly coming into a new awareness about best practice in capacity, nonprofit executives can’t afford to sit idle – their missions are depending upon them.

My focus is on sharing high impact, low cost leadership strategies that nonprofits can implement now to increase sustainability and impact. Talent assessment and development doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to have an impact, if done right.

Seeing how it is administered in most organizations, it is easy to see why most leaders cringe at the mere mention as they imagine the tedious performance review form and the annual anxiety-ridden conversation. As executive director, it is your role to set the talent assessment and development strategy for the organization. It doesn’t have to be cumbersome. Here’s a time-saving method to get started:

  • REVIEW THE PERFORMANCE/POTENTIAL MATRIX COLLECTIVELY WITH YOUR DIRECT REPORTS – This is a framework that is used to take a “snapshot in time” of the talent within your organization. The premise: talent is a reflection of both performance (delivering results) and potential (ability/aspiration to climb up the org chart). A high performing organization needs a diverse combination of both to be sustainable. The insight gained from this exercise is valuable for succession and talent development planning.
  • HAVE EACH DIRECT REPORT INDIVIDUALLY PLOT THEIR STAFF USING THE PERFORMANCE/POTENTIAL MATRIX WORKSHEET – If this is the first time you are engaging in an activity like this with your team, have them complete the worksheet before handing out the Developing Talent Matrix to avoid the having them plot a person based on how they WANT to develop them vs. how they NEED to develop them.
  • REVIEW THE COMPLETED MATRIX WORKSHEETS COLLECTIVELY AS A TEAM – Give each direct report an opportunity to discuss where their employees are plotted on the matrix. (NOTE: This is a prime opportunity for you to stretch the leadership capabilities and collaboration of the senior leadership team by asking them to “challenge” one another on their designations where necessary. As members of the senior leadership team they are expected to put the organization’s best interest above their individual department or program areas. This assignment could provide valuable insight about the leadership development needs for the team, collectively and individually.)  
  • AFTER WORKSHEETS ARE DISCUSSED AS A TEAM, REVIEW THE DEVELOPING TALENT MATRIX FOR RECOMMENDATIONS – Give each direct report time to digest the recommendations against the employees that are plotted in each box. If the recommendations won’t boost the employee’s performance and/or potential, consider whether or not the employee is in the right box. Make adjustments where necessary.
  • ASK EACH DIRECT REPORT TO CREATE DEVELOPMENT PLANS (BASED ON THE DEVELOPING TALENT MATRIX) FOR THEIR STAFF IN THE “PROMOTE TO A NEW ROLE” BOXES AND REVIEW THEM COLLECTIVELY AS A TEAM. – Reviewing it as a team gives the leaders an opportunity to create “stretch assignments” that benefit the organization as a whole and not just a particular area of the organization.