episode 192 – transcript

Dave Cain: Welcome to unsuitable on Rea Radio, the award-winning financial services and business advisory podcast that challenges your old school business practices and the traditional business suit culture. Our guests are industry professionals and experts who will challenge you to think beyond the suit and tie while offering you meaningful and modern solutions to help enhance your company’s growth. I’m your host, Dave Cain.

Because finding and retaining top talent continues to be a major challenge for nearly all businesses, we’ve talked a lot about this topic on our podcast and we’re going to broach that topic again, but today were going to tackle the topic from a different angle. Today’s guest believes that organizations have more tools at their disposal when it comes to recruiting and retention than they might think. A professional in human resources management, Ron Guisinger serves as a Senior Consultant with The Benefactor Group, which is located in Columbus, Ohio, where he provides clients with leadership, governance, executive transition, succession planning, and general HR consulting services.

On this episode of unsuitable on Rea Radio, Ron will explain how businesses that promote a culture of giving back can have more success when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent. Welcome to unsuitable, Ron.

Ron Guisinger: Thanks. It’s good to be here.

Dave: You’ve got quite a resume, so pretty impressive. I want to mention, I looked at The Benefactor Group web page and what an impressive web page. Talk to me a little bit about Benefactor Group, where you guys are located, maybe a website.

Ron: Sure. We are located here in Columbus, Ohio. We serve clients across the country. All of our clients are in the nonprofit sector. Prior to doing this, I worked in the corporate sector in the tech industry, but for the past 10 years been working with Benefactor Group. Our clients range in size from the smallest grassroots nonprofit to very large pediatric children’s hospitals, so …

Dave: Wide range.

Ron: So wide range. It cuts across the nonprofit sector, everything from arts and culture, human services. A lot of our clients are human services. We work with education, higher ed, so it really cuts across the nonprofit sector as well.

Dave: A lot of the things that we’re going to talk about today, and obviously with your background in nonprofit organizations, but a lot of the issues we’re going to talk about, recruiting and retaining, kind of apply to all businesses, would you

Ron: Absolutely

Dave: Would you agree?

Ron: Absolutely. I think it doesn’t discriminate against one sector or one industry. I think it really is cutting across industry as a whole.

Dave: Sure, and I want to encourage our listeners, take a look if you’re at the computer. Jump on… Google in “Benefactor Group”. I believe the website is benefactorgroup.com …

Ron: Correct

Dave: Is that what we

Ron: Yeah, yeah.

Dave: And you’ll kind of see what that organization does and it’s a wide range and we’ll talk a little bit about that, but just a wonderful organization for nonprofit to help those organizations with a lot of their strategy let’s say.

Ron: We focus on three areas. We focus on fundraising consulting, so a lot of capital campaigns’ fund development. We also work with planning strategic planning organizations with planning services, and then lastly the area that I focus in is talent. A lot of that is executive search, succession planning, working with organizations in terms of helping them plan their needs from a talent perspective.

Dave: Let’s stay on that line and one of the notes that you had sent me was the unemployment rates. I think first quarter, Ohio was 4.4, U.S. was 3.8. Those are the lowest rates we’ve seen in a long, long time.

Ron: I think there’s a couple of things here. Obviously, low unemployment rate. I remember many, many years ago when I was in business school, I think 4 percent was considered full employment, so obviously there are a lot of … that demand is exceeding supply in many cases, but I think most importantly is it’s the types of folks that people are looking for and the jobs that they want to fill that is really, really critical. I work with a lot of development folks, C-suite folks in nonprofit. The demand is tight. It’s tough to find good folks.

Dave: The old supply and demand thing that we learned in college. That’s loud and clear, isn’t it?

Ron: Absolutely.

Dave: Let’s revisit a lot of the challenges that businesses are facing today in the area of finding and retaining top talent. What are the challenges that you’re running in as you go and recruit and try to replace some of this talent?

Ron: Wow.

Dave: That’ll take you the rest of the podcast to tell me.

Ron: I think obviously people want folks that walk on water. I’m just wrapping up working with an organization in addiction recovery field and they’re hiring their top person, their executive director, and I think they want folks that not only have the technical and experience and the knowledge of the field that they’re serving, but they need folks that have the soft skills, the competencies and the abilities to do the job. Not only to do that work, but also to be seen as the leader in the industry and to represent the organization well in the community. There’s a big part of this is, who can not only do the work but who can represent us as an organization and lead the rest of the folks?

Dave: With this supply and demand issue with talent, how are you handling an organization, whether it’s a for-profit or not-for-profit that has limited budget constraints and needs to hire some top-end talent?

Ron: I think that’s a great question, and the reason I think it is is because I firmly believe that organizations have a lot more at their disposal than they probably give themselves credit for because I right now work in the nonprofit sector. It’s tough to compete with obviously corporate or people that can pay high salaries, so there’s other things that people can do. We’ve know, and this has been true for a long time, as long as I’ve been in the human resources field, people want to know that they’re being developed.

You can do a lot of that without expenditure. It’s great if you have training and development dollars at your disposal, but you can that one on one. You can do it with job rotation, giving people new opportunities, new responsibilities so that they can learn from that, so they can see their career progressing. There’s a lot of available training in the community that people can take advantage of, and I think there’s another piece of this beyond training and development and that’s just purely culture.

Dave: Again, we hear that, “Oh, it’s money, it’s the benefits”, and sure, that’s a very, very important part of it, but what you pointed out, I think our listeners need to pay attention and develop systems about other stuff that are really more important or can be more important than just the dollar and cents. I want to dig into that a little bit as we go through the next couple of minutes. You had mentioned, too, that sometimes Corporate America will outspend or overrecruit some of the talent that you’re seeking because they can afford to do that. Their budgets are larger, and so they’re going to win if it comes down to just money. They’re going to win, but you’re going to say, “Look, we have other things to offer.”

Ron: I think there’s a lot that the sector that I work with can offer and I think people are looking for meaningful and they want to know that they’re making an impact in the community and I think that’s true across all generations, but we clearly, clearly are seeing that with the Millennials. I have a couple of interns that have worked with us in our shop and it’s amazing what these folks do coming into the workforce right out of college right now. I look at their background and the things they’ve been involved with, it’s just amazing in terms… even in the philanthropic space.

An example of that is the number of folks that are involved in Buckeye Fun at Ohio State University for example that raises money for a nationwide children’s hospital. It’s just astounding what they do in terms of getting corporate sponsorships and raising money. They’re doing a lot of the things that people in the development field do every day, and so they’re leaving school, entering the workforce with a lot of that knowledge already, but most importantly, I don’t know if it’s most importantly, but they want to know that the work that they’re going to do in the future has meaning.

Dave: Again, we have many different podcasts over the years on recruiting of talent, so it is a hot topic. It just really is with our clients and our listeners and every organization has that issue. Let’s talk about, how do you find the right person? I want to just kind of ask you a couple of things, just fire away and see where… pick your brain a little bit on this. How important is defining the role of that job? I guess it’s the job description. How important is that?

Ron: It’s critical, and I’m not talking necessarily just defining what the person is going to be doing. I’m talking about really digging into the other elements of the job. What is it going to take from a competency perspective? What is the culture like? What is the opportunity there for the person? What are they going to be able to achieve? I think it’s really highlighting all of that and putting that out there, but beyond … when I say putting it out there, I’m not talking simply posting, but I’m talking about actively, proactively going out and seeking the types of folks that are going to do that work, that are going to be happy doing that work going forward. Those are the people that you’re really… in my world, those are the people that you need to be looking for.

Dave: As an HR guy, you’re actually a salesman trying to sell the organization that you’re working for to, “Come work for me”?

Ron: Absolutely.

Dave: Come work for me.

Ron: I think from a recruiting perspective, that’s definitely true and I think when I think of the other aspects of HR beyond recruiting, I think that’s true. You’re always selling the organization and the work that needs to be done and what the organization hopes to achieve. How’s it going to expand it’s mission and make progress?

Dave: How do you sell culture? How do you sell that to a candidate?

Ron: Wow. I’ll tell you something I just recently did that I think was really selling the culture. We brought the top person back in to spend a day with a lot of different folks in the organization to get a feel for the culture himself. It was meeting with the people that he was going to be directing, overseeing, but beyond that it was the head of the foundation and talking with him. What did they hope to achieve? It was really talking with the search committee and meeting with the interim executive director.

Ron: I think in that instance, culture, I think it’s seeing some of that first hand, but there’s I think many different ways to sell culture and you just want to make sure that you’re being honest. Let’s face it, you don’t want to put a culture out there that is not you and then the person gets in the role and then the turnover increases because they’re not happy. You don’t want to sell them a bill of goods, so [crosstalk 00:12:42]-

Dave: You’re so excited. You got a candidate and you put them in there, “Oops, not a good fit for the culture.”

Ron: Exactly.

Dave: Again, that’s maybe where some upfront work like you had mentioned, the competencies, explore the competencies and things like that. Let’s talk about hiring expectations. Let’s say that I jump on the phone, call you at The Benefactor Group and say, “Ron, I need a C-suite individual. Go find me one.” How long is it going to take? I want somebody in here by the end of next week.

Ron: Man, that’s not going to happen …

Dave: Good luck

Ron: Good luck. If you could get somebody by the end of next week, you wouldn’t be calling me. I think it’s really getting to know the organization and what their goals and what they hope for this person in the role. I think it’s really understanding the mission and the expectations and being very clear about that. How long is it going to take? I wish I had a crystal ball and could say, “For this job and this role and this organization, it’s going to take this long”, but you really don’t know sometimes until you get in and you’re starting to build that candidate pool and seeing who’s there and who’s available, and then it becomes a little bit clearer maybe how long it’s going to take. I think for the executive director, the president, the CEO, it’s not uncommon that it’s four to six months.

Dave: Again, that’s where you guys come into play, can help an organization start that process maybe earlier or before the C-suite person is ready to resign or retire. You know that you have advanced notice. You can go to work very efficiently and effectively for that organization, so again, I think that’ a good rule of thumb. Four to six months, at least that sets my expectation. This is going to take some time.

Ron: There’s a model that was developed quite a few years ago, maybe a little more than a decade ago, by The Annie E. Casey Foundation around executive transition management, and that model… it was actually first developed with Protestant churches and part of the model is putting an interim executive into place for a while, but really there’s a whole piece of that first phase that is really around putting together a leadership agenda and figuring out, what is it that the organization needs? Strategically, where are they headed? If you can get a handle on that, then you’re more likely to find a person who will be successful in the long run getting the organization there.

The other two pieces of that are search, really literally doing what we traditionally as executive search, and then the third piece is around I call it onboarding, but it’s really in the Casey model and the ETM model. It’s called Thrive, so it’s really setting the person up to be successful in the long term.

Dave: Switch gears a little bit. Obviously, attracting … I think you gave us some good insight there about defining the role and the competencies and be clear about the expectation and the culture, and I think that’s wonderful. Now, we’ve got the person in place, and again, the title of our podcast is Recruit a Team That Loves to Give Back. I want to talk about retaining your talent, and we all know there’s the cost of turnover is very high no matter what organization, what industry you’re in. Let’s talk about retaining and developing or putting that person in a culture that with the company that likes to give back to the community. How do you sell that? How do you set that up?

Ron: To a certain degree, I think it sells itself. I think in the community that we live in, that I live in, I think a lot of folks know which companies are giving back to the community philanthropically. We also know that that’s a big drive for example if you’re recruiting folks from the Millennial generation. We know that that’s a very important piece of the work culture and the work contract if you will. I think to a large extent, when an organization gives back to the community, people know it and they see it. In fact, that’s actually how I first got involved in this work with the nonprofit sector.

I was doing some corporate and foundation fundraising for The Human Rights Campaign locally here in Columbus for The Columbus Steering Committee. In the gay community and the LGBTQ community, people know which organizations support that community. They know which ones… I can name a lot of companies here in the Columbus, Ohio, region and we also know nationally which organizations support that element of philanthropy if you will, that segment of the population. I think more broadly, that’s why companies want to do this.

I’ve always contended most of them don’t do it out of the goodness of their heart, they’re doing it because they know it’s part of their brand. They know that not only are their employees looking for it, the consumers, the people they serve, the people that they provide products and services to are looking forward to it or look to that as well, and I think those actually come together as one if you will. The things that consumers want, employees want as well.

Dave: That’s part of the culture thing you were talking about earlier. This HR human capital process, it’s crazy. We hear our clients wrestling with the issues now with the cannabis issue and concealed carry. Those are pretty delicate and pretty tough issues. What are you running into in the nonprofit arena with those issues?

Ron: Wow, I haven’t seen that as much in the nonprofit, but I think part of it is because of the positions that I’m personally involved with right now. Typically, we don’t see that in the C-suite roles. I think there are other jobs that I think that’s critical. Of course, it’s interesting. Like I said, I’m working with an addiction recovery organization and, of course, the drug test and all of that going to be

Dave: Oh yeah.

Ron: Going to be critical, but I think that’s going to become more and more important to the whole idea around, who are we hiring? How are we finding the best folks?

Dave: As you mentioned earlier, there’s other things that are equally important other than the dollars and cents and what’s in the paycheck. I want to kind of just run through that and see if there’s anything that we missed. Obviously, culture, that seems to be large on your radar.

Ron: Right, and with that culture I’m thinking of things like flexibility, things like there’s a large corporation, a very fast-growing organization in town. We know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but they have the …

Dave: Free lunch

Ron: The chef does the catered lunches. I was just was with a recruiter there last week and when I looked around that culture I thought, “This is not much different than it was when I was in high tech in the early ’80s during the dot com years where we were trying so hard to get software engineers.” I think it’s everything from how people interact in the workplace, what do we provide for amenities? What do we do in terms of flexibility? It really encompasses a lot of things and I think the one thing we’d be really remiss if we don’t touch on and that’s the whole idea around diversity and inclusion and, how does that play into this? How are we attracting folks that represent a lot of different ideas in a lot of different segments of society?

Dave: As I listen to you speak and look at your notes, you guys can help, The Benefactor Group can help. If I have a not-for-profit organization, you can help me define the roles, define what I want, define my employment strategies. You guys do some very specific strategic planning and this is one of them, so fantastic.

Our guest today has been Ron Guisinger with The Benefactor Group, located in Columbus, Ohio. We had about eight pages of notes and topics we were going to talk about today, but we only got through a page and a half, Ron, so we’re going to have to have you come back and do additional more, maybe deep dive into some of this stuff. We scratched the surface, but as I went through here, some of the services that your organization provides is truly wonderful and it’s a hidden resource that, again, I want to encourage people to reach out and look at your website and just see what kind of services you offer to the non-for-profit community.

Ron: Great. Thanks

Dave: Thanks for joining us, Ron, and it’s always interesting to see the impact that a company’s culture can have on every aspect of the business, and of course, any time businesses can promote a culture of giving back to the community is a great thing for everybody.

Thanks for listening to this episode of unsuitable. If you would like some more company culture insight or additional recruiting and retention tips, check out today’s page at www.reacpa.com/podcast, and don’t forget to subscribe to unsuitable on Rea Radio on your favorite media player or check out the Rea & Associates YouTube channel for a closer look at what’s going on behind the mike during each episode. Until next time, I’m Dave Cain, encouraging you to loosen up your tie and think outside the box.

Disclaimer: The views expressed on unsuitable on Rea Radio are our own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rea & Associates. The podcast is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the professional advice you would receive elsewhere. Consult with a trusted advisor about your unique situation so they can expertly guide you to the best solution for your specific circumstance.