Juanita is meeting with her new boss, Rich Ryblessi, the Director of Regional Services. Rich highlights his concerns in the following areas: analysis and design of work, recruitment and selection, training and development, performance management, compensation and benefits, employee relations, personnel policies, compliance with laws, and strategies for supporting the mission.
At the end of the meeting Juanita returns to her office and reflects on the meeting. As best as she can determine, HR has typically been relegated to simply processing paperwork and counseling people who had questions about issues like health insurance and paychecks. And although Rich has identified many important areas for HR, Juanita senses that he really expects no more from her than he did of the previous HR Manager. However, Juanita believes she can and should contribute more to the mission and vision and can help Rich overcome a number of challenges.
Consider these reflective questions as you will discuss them further in your assignments:
Yesterday was a bit of a surprise for Juanita as she sensed a gap between what her boss said he wanted and what he conveyed as expectations and limits on her authority. It is now Day 2 and she is excited and ready to go with her early afternoon appointment with fundraising’s Director of Development.
As she is reviewing past reports on fundraising efforts and success a visitor stops in to see her. When Melissa, introduces herself Juanita finds that she is the previous HR Manager who left the organization about 3 months earlier. Juanita perceives this is an ideal time to glean what she can about challenges and opportunities. While speaking with Melissa, Juanita finds out who the real workers are and who just seems to be filling a spot. She learns that since resources are limited they have struggled to find qualified and committed personnel to fill numerous important positions. Juanita finds that the people do care…a lot…about the mission but hardly think beyond their current circumstances and most are discouraged with their perceived lack of impact on their community. When Juanita questions Melissa about why she left she finds that Melissa had aspired to have greater responsibility and make a bigger impact but felt limited in her role in this organization. In a way, this confirmed for Juanita that she would definitely have to speak with Rich sooner than later to be sure she understood her authority to do all she thought she was hired to do.
As she visits with Jackie, the Director of Development, she learns that the economy has had a negative impact on their historical donor base. Cash gifts are down and have been trending down for about 2 years. Gifts in kind, like food, are up but since it is perishable they must distribute it quickly or it must be thrown away. And, since gifts are down they have had to rely more heavily on volunteers. This means their drivers and those who distribute food are less consistent and reliable. This is beginning to impact their gifts from donors since they are finding out that much of what they are giving is being thrown away.
As Juanita sits in her office at the end of the day she feels she is beginning to understand the complexity of the issues. It seems she has limited authority over areas that most HR Managers have and that the lack of cash is negatively impacting their ability to hire and retain the right people. Since she cannot control the availability of cash she will have to come up with some innovative ways to better hire and retain the right people.
While attending one of her last classes last night Juanita learned of an assignment she has related to Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO). As she is driving home from class she realizes that her new employer would be a great source for the assignment and help her better understand how to do her job better.
When she met with Rich he never mentioned laws and regulations that may impact the organizations. And, when she thinks about it, she had assumed that since they were a non-profit doing work to alleviate hunger that they would somehow be exempt from government oversight.
Her appointment for Day 3 has cancelled so she decides to use the day to learn what she can about laws and regulations that they could be potentially violating and also try to better understand how they could use them to their advantage.
After about 2 hours of research she has learned:
- Full time employees number between 15-30 people depending on the year and workload.
- They receive both federal and state contracts. Each is for $20,000 per year.
- Periodically they hire people who serve in the National Guard and Reserves
It is Juanita’s 4th day on the job and it has been both exciting and scary. The more she learns the more she realizes she has to learn if she is to be successful in this new role. Based on her observations in previous jobs and as an intern at her last non-profit experience, it seemed as if the pace was slow and easy. To her surprise and with great anticipation, she is finding that there is much to be done to help this organization that she is so committed to.
Her passion and commitment runs deep as a first generation Hispanic American in her family. She remembers the trouble her family had finding suitable housing, food, and work when they first came to America when she was just 6 years old. Much has changed for her and her family but not without pain and sacrifice. Juanita is determined to make a difference for those who have little ability to help themselves. And, as far as she is concerned, this applies to all the stakeholders she will serve including the hungry, employees, employer, and the community at large.
Although there is much to do she remembers what her mama taught her….you eat an elephant one bite at a time. Based on this counsel she decides to establish some short term priorities based on what she has learned so far. From what she has heard during her first conversations with managers and what she hears from various employees, it seems the greatest need the organization has is to stabilize the employee base.
Her own job description seems inadequate for what the job will entail and she wonders if this is true of other jobs. She wonders if job descriptions are designed to reflect what is or what used to be when the organization was just getting started. And, how have they historically planned for their needs or have they merely reacted to changing requirements?
Juanita feels she is developing rapport and trust with a number of the people she has visited with. It seems obvious that hiring and retaining the right people is critical to long term success. As she has probed deeper into the issues she has turned up some details on performance appraisals…or lack thereof, a weakness in employee and volunteer development and a significant lack of training.
Given these difficulties she decides the best way to gather information without having to schedule more appointments with people she has already visited is to simply engage in some discussion via email. She builds her group list and then begins to compose her email.
“….thank you for taking the time to help me feel welcome and for sharing your perspective on how HR and I can better help you accomplish your goals as well as the mission that we share. As I continue to meet with various people I find that most challenges we face point back to training and development, our performance evaluation system and related feedback, and a lack of a career track for full time employees. I am hoping you will help me out by responding to a few questions by email so I can keep thinking about these issues without having to make another appointment with you so soon after our initial meeting.”