Nonprofit Hiring Mistakes

Larry Tucker

Research shows that one of the primary characteristics of successful organizations is that they spend more time and money on selecting and onboarding new hires than other organizations. That is, they take the time to find exactly the right fit the first time.  

Sounds simple and reasonable, doesn’t it? 

But sometimes influences like lack of time or lack of candidates interfere with our decision-making processes. You‘ve seen, or been a part of these types of situations. Your program director quit last month and you’ve been doing the work of two people ever since. How can you spend enough time to make the right choice? Or, you stumbled on a good candidate, so you’ll just go ahead and hire her. Or, the talent pool for this type of person is so thin that you’ll just take the first one that meets your minimum requirements. Yet, like any other long-term strategy, the investment of time now to create the right foundation bears great rewards down the road.  

The “costs” of a wrong hire are overwhelming:  

  • Double (or triple or more) effort in orientation and training.
  • Wasted salary costs in your budget. 
  • The negative effects of the wrong hire on staff and clients. 

Curtis Chang’s article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review entitled Three Nonprofit Hiring Mistakes to Avoid is a terrific reminder of things to do and not do in a hiring process.  

Some managers don’t believe that the additional time investment will bear more successful results, so they hire fast. There’s no question that despite a substantial effort, there is still a chance of failure, and managers will often point to such a past failure as a reason to short-change the process. Again, research shows that there is a correlation between a thorough, effective hiring process and a significantly enhanced chance of success.  

So, when you are faced with finding the right person for a role in your organization, step back, take a breath, consider the alternatives, develop a strategy and then execute that strategy. It will be worth it!

 Author: Larry Tucker,  Executive Coaches of orange County,