Nonprofit Operational Manual

Home Acknowledgements

Managing Staff and Volunteers

To deliver on its vision and mission, nonprofits need good people management. It is essential that those working in a nonprofit are managed effectively and that they perform optimally while developing personally through their jobs. This process starts with recruiting the right people for the right job.
Selection and recruitment of staff and volunteers
Finding the right staff or volunteer to do the job right is an important process in running a nonprofit. Careful consideration needs to the kind of person, experience and commitment of those to be offered employment or volunteer opportunities in the organisation.

We recommend the following steps:

Managing Performance
How staff and volunteers are managed determines the organisation’s success and the level of impact it can make. It is critical that an organisation puts in place a performance management system that it will use in appraising its staff and volunteers quarterly and annually on how each staff member is performing on his or her job according to agreed work plan. Staff development is an integral part of the performance management process through which employees existing skills and knowledge are built so that they can deliver effectively on the job. The performance management process helps to detect poor or underperformance and to create steps to address them. It is the responsibility of the line manager and in small organisations the executive director to let the employee know what aspects of his or her performance needs to be improved, how and when this should be done. The employee must be made to understand that the improvements needed will be assessed and measured at an agreed date when his or her progress will be reviewed. Employees must agree to the assessment verbally and in writing.
Read more on performance management here

Staff Development
Having in place staff development plans ensures that the organisation can retain staff and that individuals working in the organisation perform optimally. Staff development involves improving each staff’s existing skills, competencies, knowledge and ways of working so that they can perform better at their job. Staff development does not necessarily need to be expensive neither should it be formal training, workshop or short courses only. It can be in form of mentoring, coaching, on-the-job experience, sharing ideas, skills and expertise with colleagues, reflection exercises on what worked well and what did not and through reading online.

Raising Concerns
It is important for an organisation to have a system in place for how staff/volunteers can raise their concerns at work including bullying and harrassment. They must be taken through how to use this process so that they can understand it. Usually this system is created and documented in a grievance policy. Allowing staff/volunteers air their grievances shows the organisation’s commitment to openness, probity and accountability. Further to this, it allows for free flow of information and idea including innovation amongst staff members. It is important to let staff members know that when their concerns are raised in good faith, the organisation will protect them from consequences however frivolous, malicious or concerns raised for personal gains will attract disciplinary actions.

Employees should also be able to share any serious concern they have about the conduct of the organisations business or about the conduct of other employees, Board (Trustee), consultants etc though a whistle blowers policy. See example of a whistle blower policy here Examples of serious concerns include:

All concerns must be treated in confidence with every effort made to protect the identity of the employee raising the concern if he or she wants to. Whistleblowers may however be required to act as a witness.

Disciplinary Procedures and Appeal
Before starting work with the organisation, all new employees and volunteers must be encouraged to familiarize themselves with the disciplinary procedures that exist in the organisation. This procedure should apply to all staff including the Executive Director. The disciplinary procedures should also give room for appeal which would usually be in writing and reviewed by an appeals panel that is neutral and has not been involved in the disciplinary procedure. They may be nominated from outside of the organisation. All disciplinary action taken on staff members or volunteers should be filed for a specified period of time.

All of the above, from selection and recruitment, performance management, staff development, raising concerns and disciplinary procedures are best developed into one policy document called staff handbook or human resources management policy

Office Management A good office management practice provides a foundation for a well-grounded administrative base that ensures smooth delivery of the organisations activities. To successfully achieve this an organisational structure is needed. Through an organisational chart, the organisation shows lines of authority and delegation of duties, how work is shared, increases ownership when staff members can see themselves in the structure, shows stakeholders and visitors how the organisation is structured and its main areas of work.

Stakeholders, beneficiaries and the general public communicate with an office in these ways:
It is important the organisation has in place communication systems that can accommodate this. They can do this by:

Internally, staff members communicate with each other through meetings, conversations or by sending email. It is important to hold staff meetings regularly (once a week, bi-monthly or monthly). Project staff may also hold separate meetings to discuss project and programme related issues. The finance and administrative team are also free to meet separately to discuss administrative and finance related issues. However meetings must be kept to a minimum to allow time for the real work to be done.

To improve office relationships, the organisation should work with its staff to develop a list of good office discipline that they would like to have in place to guide them on a daily basis. Once this is debated and agreed, it should be adopted by the organisation and included in the organisations staff handbook or human resources management policy.

An efficient filing system is the hallmark of a solid administrative system where documents are easy to find and are kept in order in a secured place. It makes organisational and regulatory reporting easy and seamless. Using filling cabinets, the organisation must do routine filing of the following information:

While all staff can access the information above, those related to human resources are of confidential nature and must be treated as such. The filing cabinets must be secured in a logical place at all times with rules for accessing them clearly and transparently spelt out by the organisation.