Her advice goes right to the heart of how strange nonprofit work can look to the uninitiated, whether they are someone in their first job out of school or a career changer coming in from another industry. Sheryl recommends, among other things:
- that you encourage the new person on the block to spend a few days downloading basic information. This might be documents you're collected in one place specifically for new people, or things that other staff or volunteers have found useful.
- advise them to be listeners and put together a list of contacts they want to spend some time with learning about the organization.
- help the new employee learn the business practices and infrastructure of your organization and that are hallmarks of nonprofit organizations.
- explain best practices in the areas of tax law, nonprofit status, and even delicate politics.
- offer an "elevator speech" so that the employee can immediately explain your organization to his or her family, peers, and strangers.
- include the new staffer in meetings that you attend so they can learn the networks and relationships around the office.
- explain how to interact with people, how important it is to know the stories of your cause and how to relate them.
Sheryl's post reminded me of my first job in a nonprofit. I had been a teacher and then worked at a company, so I had a broad scope of experience. But, I felt as though I'd just wandered into a foreign country without learning to speak the language.
Fortunately, my peers and managers welcomed me, appreciated the experience I could bring to the table, and patiently tutored me as I learned the ropes. What if they hadn't? I could easily have become discouraged and wandered away from the nonprofit sector.
How are you treating your new employees? How do you help them get their bearings? Those first few weeks are critical and your help can make or break the potential of a new hire. Let us know about your procedures for new employees.
More about nonprofit work:
- 12 Ways to Embrace the 21st Century Nonprofit Workforce
- Eight Tips for Jumping Ship: For-Profit to Nonprofit Career
- How to Find Your Dream Nonprofit Job
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