One of my most read posts is Advice to Those New to the Foundation Field. The purpose of that post was to encourage new foundation staff to take control of their personal development. I have gotten lots of questions from long-term staff that want to support young foundation staff but aren’t sure how. I hope the following tips will be helpful:
• Set the bar high- Don’t assume that young foundation staff members will be intimidated by the volume of work at a foundation. Since many can remember the recent experience of juggling multiple priorities and assignments in college or graduate school, the often frantic pace of foundation work isn’t as overwhelming as you may assume. When you give these staff members tough assignments, hide your surprise when they meet or exceed those expectations.
• Use new staff members as an opportunity to identify problematic or confusing operational policies- If you have been at a foundation for a long time, you develop ways to work around parts of the bureaucracy of a foundation that don’t make sense. When you have new staff, pay attention to the questions that they ask about your process, they may see opportunities for improvement that can be missed if you have been working around the system for a long time.
• Provide plenty of training opportunities- It is expense to fully train a new staff member but the quality of their initial training will determine how effective they will be for the rest of their time at your organization. Important training opportunities for program officers include: ethics, analyzing financial statements, legal basics, and any program specific areas that the staff person will be responsible for.
• Have your new staff members map out their long-term career goals- Find ways to support those long term goals and you will have a motivated member of your team that will stretch themselves to help the organization achieve its goals.
• Use the addition of a new staff person as an opportunity to re-institute a culture learning for all members of your staff- Communities change, tools to do your work changes, and the practices of other foundations change. As new staff members are learning about all of these new areas take it as an opportunity to help long-term staff stay current on new trends in the field.
More tips to come on this topic on Thursday.