Balancing the Mission Checkbook

Aligning staffing models with business models

Do you have the right team for the tasks?

I regularly meet organizations that have experienced business model changes in recent years.  A new income source might require new marketing skills or reporting abilities. A shrinking budget likely means that the number of hats that a staff member is asked to wear increases. These types of business model changes frequently result in unplanned changes to job descriptions. It is very common for staffing needs to change while personnel do not.

Thus, skill gaps are widespread. Make a list of all of the skills that are essential to maximizing organizational or programmatic impact while operating sustainably. Undoubtedly, some of these skills are core to your being. There’s likely another set of skills that are being developed. Remaining on the list are the skills that are necessary but lacking.

What skill gaps exist within your organization? What is the right strategy to address these gaps?

  1. Acquire the skill:
    • When the skill is core to the role and your staff has the energy, enthusiasm, and ability to succeed
    • When the skill can be acquired within a reasonable period of time
  2. Tap the talents of your colleagues:
    • When the skill or talent exists down the hall (even if it isn’t currently in your colleague’s job description)
    • When your workplace culture promotes flexibility and collaboration
    • When you are ready to trust others
    • When the need is ad hoc
  3. Hire someone new:
    • When the skill gap is too large
    • When current staff lacks the time and capacity to develop the necessary skills
  4. Outsource by engaging a contractor:
    • When benefits exceed costs
    • When contractor’s skill is uniquely specialized and tailored for your need

Closing skills gaps requires budgeting for expenses that are investments in the organization’s future. It may mean sending staff to skill-building trainings, industry conferences, or supporting their development through one-on-one work with a mentor or coach. Closing the gap may also mean personnel changes, which can cause short-term discomfort of PTO payouts and training new staff, or could mean hiring a new employee at a higher compensation level. In many cases, these are necessary investments to ensure that you have the right team.

For nearly every nonprofit, personnel expenses make up the majority of the expense budget. Matching the right individuals with the right tasks is essential to ensure your dollars are spent as effectively as possible.

Itching for more? Join us for our July Financial Management Network to further discuss staffing models.

4/4/2013:  Some of the links in this blog entry were deleted during the migration to the new website.  We apologize for any inconvenience.