Human Capital Management in NGOs

To be honest I’ve researched for a while to get my hands on some useful material about Human Capital Management(HCM) in the NGO sector, especially in managing volunteers…not just staff. Yet I’ve failed to find substantial and relative material to build on. Therefore the following is a compilation of my personal experience in HCM in NGOs, specifically in Lebanon, through Aie Serve and other NGOs/Clubs that I train and consult.

To  make the discussion more meaningful I’ll separate HCM into 5 discussable stages, read on for the details:

Organization’s Structural Design

To truly create a Human Capital strategy for the organization, work needs to start on the Organizational Structure first. In this context, a lot of NGOs have a staff based structure, or volunteers structure, or simply committees or even no structure at all aside from the “Board”. This will need to change since adopting an HCM strategy, the structure will need to be redesigned to better fit the current needs and provide space for growth in the future.

Crucial questions to ask at this stage are:

  • What is the current structure and is it really implemented on the ground?
  • Does the structure provide space for further growth or does it need total make over?
  • Do the positions fit in and complement each other or are there gaps?
  • Is the NGO based on volunteers, staff or both? Do they know how to interact?
  • How is the decision making done and who has it in the organization? Centralized or diverse?


Setting Roles & Responsibilities

After setting the structure, its time to know what does each and every person do exactly. The interesting and surprising part here is that many if not most of the NGOs I work with have incomplete roles & responsibilities description of the team. Many people are left without clear delineation of what tasks shall they do, what are they responsible of, who do they report to, what decisions can they make …and so on and so forth.  Therefore it is essential that each person in the organization not only knows where he/she fits in the structure but also know what role do they play. Moreover, if they wish to grow..then the path they should follow need to be clear.

 Crucial questions to ask at this stage are:

  • Are there Duty Descriptions or Roles & Responsibilities documents for the positions?
  • Are people aware of each other’s role’s and responsibilities?
  • Is regular updating and upgrading for those documents done?
  • Who is involved in drafting and modifying those documents?


Setting & Implementing Recruitment Processes

Now that the structure is clear and so are the roles & responsibilities of everyone, the challenging part is how to get those people onboard. Having a consistent and clear recruitment process is essential to ensure that all potentials are tapped and the right people are recruited.  To do this a recruitment process needs to be designed in a way that it reflects the culture of the organization, the way people will be dealing with each other. The process should be clear for all those in the organization so that they understand what shall they do if they want to recruit more people.

 Crucial questions to ask at this stage are:

  • How do people apply for the NGO?
  • Does the NGO recruit volunteers or staff or ?
  • Do members of the NGO join by invitation only or do they have an entry point?
  • Is there a standard procedure of interviews and applications or ?


Training & Coaching

Once everyone is onboard and in place, the time comes where people need to better understand how to do what they’re supposed to do. At this point, training and coaching all the new recruits comes in place. So developing a clear and flexible training program and coaching process are necessary to ensure that the new recruits are empowered with the appropriate information, skills and tools to do their duties properly. Moreover, the coaching process shall allow the recruits to not only do their roles properly but also to excel and grow as a person, and perhaps suggest improvements to the process.

Crucial questions to ask at this stage are:

  • How will the new recruits know what to do and how?
  • Who will be training/coaching them?
  • Is there a training manual in place?
  • Is there a clear coaching procedure and standards?


Performance Evaluation & Enhancement

After having set everything and people are performing and excelling, it’s very important to measure the overall performance and growth of both individuals and the organization. It is important to ensure that both individual and organizational goals are synchronized for this process to work. Moreover, assessment metrics will need to be developed either at the “Roles & Responsibilities” stage or throughout the process of execution so that a clear evaluation can be done at important turning points and end of year assessments.

Crucial questions to ask at this stage are:

  • How would you know or measure that someone is doing their role properly?
  • Who is responsible of assessing/evaluating?
  • Can a follow up and training process be designed to build the skills and fill the gaps according to the results of the evaluation?

Other Interesting Posts:

Global & Local Trends…

I was skimming through some of my research material and notes from the past few months and I noticed some trends and themes that are either widespread or are emerging, both on the local and the global level.

This is no way comprehensive but I felt it is worth sharing with you so here is a selection of 7 global and 7 local trends and themes… enjoy!

Globally:

1. General widespread of trends of non-structured, non-standardized approach to education and training. The recent trends focus more on one of the following rather than on the material: Personal Relations, Arts, Sports, Values(religious, cultural, social…etc).

2. General decrease in globalization trend and a major outburst of interest in entrepreneurship, local corporations, social enterprises, SMEs and local based initiatives. This is especially true in countries that were dominated by western products/services/companies.

3. General decrease in the age group of politicians, gov officials, international organisations’ managers..etc with respect to past years. That is, we are seeing younger people take lead in positions and places that previously were solely based on seniority or are in one way or another given to senior citizens.
4. Sharp increase in promoting and empowering women in technology, governmental positions, education, and basic human rights.

5. General increase in the support of the Arab & Palestinian rights towards Israel and the understanding of the dynamics and history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This has been seen in the dwindling financial support of some countries and corporations to Israel as well as closing,in Europe and Australia, of some media outlets and PR companies that were strong supporters/followers of the Israeli State.

6. Sharp increase in Chinese and Japanese civil society activeness. This is in number of CSOs(includes NGOs, Clubs, Parties, Media Outlets…etc), the type of projects and the size of projects being initiated.

7. General increase in Chinese, Russian, Korean, Turkish, Iranian initiatives to voice out their interests and culture to their neighbouring countries and major zones of interests in the world (including Levant, MENA and GCC region)

Locally:

1. General increase in the public understanding for the need of less politicised discussions, campaigns, and talk-shows. This reflects in the major shift of many TV to start putting comedy/joke/social shows, less political talk-shows/documentaries, and thinner political sections in daily newspapers.

2. Sharp increase in the interest to go back to the mother language(Arabic). This reflects in the number of NGOs, academic institutes and media outlets that are using more Arabic, promoting Arabic or solely have started to teach/spread Arabic.

3. Sharp increase in the investments and inbound capital put in Lebanon from Lebanese diaspora, Arab states and some international companies.

4. Sharp increase in the interest and pricing of real estate in Lebanon and Beirut in specific, especially that the country has been calm on the “security” level.

5. Sharp increase in interest on banning smoking and drugs. This has been reflected in Laws that the parliament have passed, in the police/army investigations being held and the endless CSO campaigns and initiatives on the above mentioned 2 issues.

6. General increase in the interest towards being “Green” and the environmental impact of our day to day actions on the environment. Soon I expect some major campaigns to be launched on environmental awareness targeting governments,NGOs and the general public. The campaigns will probably be both local and on the Arab region.

7. Sharp increase in the number of cars sold in Lebanon in the past year and still going up. The impact reflects very negatively on the traffic jams in all over Lebanon and Beirut in specific, the pollution bill we’re paying and the deterioration of many roads faster than expected due to the volume of daily cars/buses/trucks passing on it.

I would like you to consider those themes, try to see how are they affecting your life or what is your stance on them and perhaps launch this online-discussion starting from this post….

I’m looking forward for your additions/suggestions/questions/comments.. 😀