The context for HR practices must be closely entrenched in the values and the culture of the organisation
In the NGO context HR practices comprise the following elements
- Honing the existing /new human resources to achieve the vision. Vision building in all employees is key to achieving a sound HR system in the organisation
- Identifying individuals who are willing to “move mountains for peanuts”
- Making sure that its not just the right person for the right job but also at the “right time”- this will determine optimal usage of the individual
- People engagement – how do we engage current/past/future employees/volunteers- creating alumni of people who have been associated at all levels – always useful to build a strong ambassadorial base- some organisations invite such alumni once every year or two to just let them know how the organisation is doing- its a no expectations/no agenda initiative but purely engagement
- A sound HR policy that is read, understood and executed properly
The significance of Organisational values in building a sound HR practice
- Values usually exist in the founder and the key folks’ minds. Its a set of non negotiables that guide the achievement of the vision of the organisation.
- Often this is not articulated till there is a question of scale in terms of people or programmes –its helpful to then ask a bunch of key stakeholders(people who have spent time in the organisation) and agree on what s not negotiable for e.g unnati – genuineness, caring and mutual respect. A lot of this becomes self evident too. Its always useful to revisit values every few years to make sure they continue to be relevant and are being practiced
- There needs to be consequences to values that are not complied with , in action and more importantly, immediately- these could be a range of inputs from guidance to stringer reinforcements, based on the context and specific situation
- APD does an interesting thing- they assess values compliance and validate the same through what ‘annoys” people with the organisation. For instance to see a physically challenged person “crawling” to work is unacceptable and therefore reinforces the value of dignity. They also have divided values into functional and ethical values. An example of a functional value is team work. 10% across levels spend time debate on values articulation and experience,
- The person best positioned to communicate values is often the CEO. Some organisations have week long inductions . Yet others, in large organisations, believe that the line manager best person to communicate . Sharing stories around values related challenges and how they were addressed is an extremely useful way to communicate the same
The relevance of Culture of the organisation in building a strong HR practice
- The culture of the organisation advises the work practise of the organisation – the debate in NGOs is often around discipline and structure vs achievement of outcome. There is no one right answer to this and much depends on the type of work and the age of the organisation. Equally important is the communication of this culture to the people working
- Its critical as the organisation grows however, to play the balance between outcomes and structure/process adherence , since “perceptions” often determine external support. Therefore other aspects such as dress codes, use of language, no habits at work place, how leisure time is spent by staff in an organisation, where reviews and off sites are conducted, travel policies and guidelines for all are hugely determined by the culture within the organisation.
- Clarity of role and accountability for work being done have to be very consciously discussed and agreed upon by all.
- Long inductions and spending time with new joinees by older staff is a great way to communicate some of these aspects.
Motivation – a key challenge in people that work in NGOs
- Its critical to keep connecting performance to impact on lives – often, in large organisation, this is replaced by achievement of specific KRAs- while thats equally important, motivation comes far more from being able to see oneself as making a real difference
- Its important that the founder/leader of the organisation makes the effort to be in touch with all employees – in large organisations this maybe a challenge but not impossible. Town Halls and open meets are one way to do this
- Rotation of jobs where possible within the organisation – a great way to motivate people, provide learning opportunity and reduce boredom. This may not be always possible but surely where it can be done, should be
- Demonstrating opportunities for learning and training within the organisation is important.