In order to best serve our search partners, Aspen Leadership Group has developed a suite of resources that allow our clients to build teams virtually during these difficult times. In a rapidly changing environment, it is critical that institutions serving the common good have the resources, including human resources, needed to achieve their missions. Vital institutional needs will not wait for this situation to stabilize and donors are yearning to further their philanthropic goals – to institutions that are directly and indirectly involved in the COVID-19 health crisis.
The Aspen Leadership Group team has developed protocols that allow our clients to proceed through each step of the search process – virtually and with confidence. These protocols have been successfully implemented with our clients.
Since early March, ALG has conducted all client intakes by video conference. By engaging in thoughtfully prepared, nuanced conversations in small groups and individually, our senior consultants have been able to develop a close connection with the institution and determine the most important candidate attributes. In some respects, conducting these interviews virtually has allowed us to engage with more stakeholders as we are not constrained by on-site scheduling challenges.
Our strong networks and deep relationships with our candidates have allowed us to proceed with outreach without interruption. Through sensitive messaging – that is continuously reevaluated and updated to reflect the current environment – we have been able to reach strong candidates that welcome our commitment to their careers. We continue to build robust pools of candidates, with both the desired attributes and commitment to mission.
ALG team members conduct multiple video interviews with candidates before sharing them with clients. This has always been our policy. It has also provided us with expertise in this realm. We are able to assess candidate capabilities as well as determine the more nuanced qualities that make candidates successful in their chosen roles. We are able to share strategies for successful video conferencing with our clients as well as craft questions and offer further guidance that ensure that our clients have confidence in the process.
There are a number of benefits to executing search committee meetings virtually. They ease scheduling and travel challenges and allow meetings to be spread out over a number of days if necessary – avoiding “search committee burnout.” It allows institutions to include international committee members, committee members with different abilities, and saves money.
ALG has extensive experience executing and participating in search committee meetings held virtually. We are able to convene the meeting and/or lead the meeting virtually and will offer assistance to the search committee chair in advance to coordinate an efficient and meaningful agenda for all involved. ALG has developed a 10-step planning guide to give our clients confidence that their search committee meeting will be a success.
Offers and reference checking
As part of our standard operating process, ALG uses SkillSurvey, an online tool, to check references. Our clients find this 360-degree report, offering both quantitative and qualitative answers given by anonymous references, to be insightful in evaluating candidates. The result is an electronic document which can be sent to the hiring manager or key stakeholders in the search. We offer assistance in negotiating offers with candidates upon request.
Most of us are functioning in a virtual space at this time in one way or another – some for the first time – but meaningful, deep, and productive relationships may be built and nurtured in this space. The post-COVID-19 world will likely look very different from the world we lived in only a few months ago. It is in the best interest of institutions and professionals to master this space and have tools at their disposal that will provide confidence in virtual decision-making including decisions focused on building teams. ALG is making its senior consultants available for 24/7 responsiveness over the next 90 days to equip leaders with Leader-to-Leader Crisis Counsel, new insight, and advice gathered from what’s working across our network.
Our clients are successfully on-boarding new team members in this virtual environment and are thus maintaining the momentum that was created in filling the position. The key to virtual on-boarding, as with all on-boarding, is to have the right plan and team in place in advance of your new hire’s first day. ALG has developed best practices for virtual on-boarding that may be implemented by our clients with our assistance.
Hiring freezes and internal messaging
You may be concerned about navigating hiring freezes or internal messaging at a time of crisis and instability. Hiring freeze exemptions have been granted to several of our clients for select fundraising positions that will allow them to continue to generate essential revenue. We encourage you to continue with virtual interviews while hiring freezes are in effect so that your top candidates remain engaged with your organization and deepen their connection to you during this period. This will set you up for success and save you valuable time and resources when you are ready to begin hiring again and will avoid starting the process anew. Assuring staff that these select revenue-generating positions are an investment in the financial well-being of the institution is critical – particularly when there are layoffs or salary cuts in play. ALG is available to help you with internal as well as constituent messaging.