Nonprofit Executive Search in the Time of COVID-19
The team of Search Consultants at Nonprofit Talent is dedicated to supporting the nonprofit sector with managing successful executive transitions. During this critical time of COVID-19, our experience and our innovative approach to retaining talent to meet the needs of organizations has evolved with the changing priorities of leadership recruitment. We have always adapted our search expertise to the unique needs of our clients…….this is our strength, now more than ever.
Leadership transition is a fragile time in the life-cycle of an organization. A worldwide pandemic with economic hardship and uncertainty can make the prospect of an executive departure, planned or unplanned, daunting for Board and Staff leadership. Now, six months into the COVID crisis, with extensive experience managing healthy transitions, we share with you this QUESTION and NPT RESPONSE briefing to help assuage the anxieties unique to this particular point in time.
QUESTION: As a nonprofit Executive, I had planned to retire or depart my organization in Q4 or Q1. What should I do given the current circumstance of COVID?
NPT RESPONSE: If your personal financial and emotional situation is stable and supports your departure, Nonprofit Talent recommends that you proceed with your plan. There are always mitigating factors in deciding to leave an organization.* While a global pandemic is an extreme occurrence, we are finding that organizations have the ability to flex for a change in leadership. Moreover, the candidate pools of individuals looking to make a professional change at this time are strong, experienced, and ready for the challenges of leadership.
*Note: The Nonprofit Talent process timeline is typically 13-15 weeks from engagement to hire. Our ability to guide a Board or Senior Executive during that time, when much can and will change, is a mark of the success of our firm, both in quieter times and in crisis.
QUESTION: How does an organization ensure an equitable recruitment, interview, and hiring process during COVID-19?
NPT RESPONSE: An equitable recruitment process means that each candidate goes through the same process, through the identification phase and first and second rounds of interviewing. Organizations need to be highly communicative with candidates, listening to their needs and concerns. We recommend setting up a process of interviewing that is the same for every candidate, near or far, to maintain fairness. In addition to state or local mandates of gathering size and mask-wearing, an organization needs to defer to the comfort and security of a candidate meeting in-person for an interview. We have had tremendous success with implementing first interviews via virtual technology. Most second interviews are done virtually as well, although bringing 2-3 finalists to meet in person, socially distanced, with a search committee has been a strong strategy for our clients.
QUESTION: With much or all of an organization’s Staff all working remotely, what are the best practices for onboarding a new leader?
NPT RESPONSE: Bringing a new leader into an organization with intention is a critical component of the retention of not only that leader, but also the Staff. Doing so when many organizations are working off-site is a particular challenge of these times.
It is imperative that the Board and/or Senior Staff plan to have a strong, productive start for the new Executive, with the right approach and preparation. A comprehensive, written plan for onboarding should be created and shared with all stakeholders of the organization: the new Executive, the Board and the Staff. Everyone will play a critical role in the success of a new leader, particularly in the first 30-60-90 days. A search process managed by Nonprofit Talent has always included a six-month onboarding program. We have successfully adapted this program for remote onboarding.
A few additional points of support and information from the Consultants at Nonprofit Talent:
- If you are planning a national search, understand that job seekers may not be comfortable relocating during the time of COVID. Consider this as you source candidates and build your timeline. We recommend that you maximize your search locally to ensure you reach out to all of the best available talent, thus avoiding relocation and travel issues.
- From the search launch meeting through interviewing and hiring, 95% of the Nonprofit Talent search process is currently done virtually for the protection and safety of organizational leadership and candidates. With 20 years of experience using video conferencing platforms, we excel at ensuring a comprehensive recruitment and interview process.
- Safety is our top priority in addition to a smooth search process.We diligently monitor the regulations, restrictions, and recommendations locally, state-wide, and nationally to ensure that our process and clients are in compliance and exceed all safety standards.
We welcome the opportunity to hear from you with the unique needs of your organization, your worries and concerns, as well as practices that your organization has established during this time. Please reach out to the President of Nonprofit Talent, Michelle Pagano Heck, via email for a same day response: firstname.lastname@example.org