Newsletter – February 16, 2022

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3 ways to gear up for a hiring push

Hi friends,

Gearing up for a hiring push? The terrain might be rocky, but roadmaps help. This newsletter is a special edition for managers working on campaigns or elections in 2022 (though some of the advice holds up for everyone else, too!).

For starters, hiring is a “big rock.” If you have open positions to fill, make them a priority project—with dedicated human capacity, a MOCHA, a timeline, and clear deliverables—rather than a series of tasks you shove into your spare moments. Set aside time to define your must-haves, build your pool, decide how to test your candidates on REI competency, and fill out your rubrics.

“Campaigns and elections hiring” in bold letters above a graphic with three distinct blocks in shades of blue. Each block has an icon, a number, and text. Block one says “build your talent list” and features a people icon. Two says “keep the bigger picture in mind” and features photo icon. Three says “test for organizer must-haves” and features a checklist icon.

1 thing you can do right now

Start building your talent list. Make a list of everyone you know who could be a fit for the roles you anticipate hiring for—even if you don’t have a job description, timeline, or interview questions yet. Make another list of connectors and start reaching out to them.

2 ways to keep sight of the big picture

There might come a time when you’ll just be looking for people who can execute—knock on doors, dial numbers, and follow a script. But for now, we recommend keeping the mid and long-term view in mind. On a campaign, the first wave of organizers you hire will shape the culture of your field team—they’ll also receive the most skill development and will likely lead sub-functions later in the campaign (e.g., an organizer you hire in March might run your entire GOTV phone banking operation in October).

Also, for many of our clients, campaigns are just one component of their overall work. If you work at an organization or you’re part of the local community, you’re not just in it until election day—you’re in it for the long haul. Below are two ways to keep the bigger picture in mind:

1. Imagine February 2023.

What if you knew that 25% of the organizers you hire for this campaign will staff your programs in a year? How would you hire and onboard? What would you do to build their investment in your team and organization beyond election day? How would you invest in them?

2. Imagine February 2032.

What if you knew that 25% of the first-time organizers you hire now will be leading campaigns and organizations in 10 years? First jobs are like any first relationship—they shape our expectations, habits, and approaches to work. In the best-case scenarios, campaigns launch careers in movement work. In the worst cases, they become a “never again” story. If you knew that your next hire was a budding movement leader, how would you support and invest in them? What habits would you help them build? What practices would you instill?

3 must-haves when hiring organizers

1. Ability to handle ambiguity.

Where there’s organizing, there’s uncertainty and chaos. The most successful organizers don’t just cope with ambiguity, they’re comfortable with it—perhaps even excited by it. On campaigns, organizers often must dive into new and uncomfortable situations, shift tactics, and act with incomplete information. At a time when we’re all dealing with uncertainty fatigue, it’s important to acknowledge that ambiguity is a natural part of the job and hire folks who can demonstrate handling ambiguity well.

Ways to test for it:

  • “Tell me about a time when you had to work through uncertainty to deliver a work product or results. How did you go about it? What was the result?”
  • “Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision or act with incomplete information. What did you do? What was the result?”

2. Hunger for learning and growth.

Great organizers are curious about people—they wonder about other people’s life experiences and motivations. Whether they’re talking to volunteers, voters, or teammates, they default to questions rather than judgments. They’re also curious about their own development, investing in growth by asking for feedback and seeking out new skills. And, they’re committed to supporting others to grow through sharing feedback, teaching, and coaching.

Ways to test for it:

  • “Tell me about a time when you worked with someone you didn’t always get along or agree with. How did you resolve your disagreements or differences? If you had to guess, why do you think it was hard for you to see eye-to-eye with each other?”
  • “Tell me about a time when you had to learn or grow a new skill quickly. What was the situation and how did you approach it?”
  • “Tell me about a time when you had to train or coach someone else to develop a skill. What did you do? How did you approach it? How did you know when you were successful?”

3. Drive to win without leaving people behind.

There’s usually a clear win that you’re after. You get the votes you need, the bill gets passed, or your person gets elected. But how you get there and what you build (or break) along the way matters too. Great organizers meet people where they are and enable them to take bold action. They drive toward results by building teams that are inclusive, accessible, and welcoming—bringing people along and into something bigger than themselves.

Ways to test for it:

  • “Tell me about a time that you worked to make sure that someone on your team felt included and welcomed. What did you do? What do you think would have happened otherwise?”
  • “Let’s say you have a volunteer who is very eager to help, but repeatedly struggles with the technology involved with phone and text banking. What do you do?”

Use our Planning for Must-Haves at Every Stage template to plan your interviews, simulations, and reference checks, and be sure to create a hiring rubric.


Workplace Trends to Watch in 2022

  • 11 Trends That Will Shape Work in 2022. From fairness and equity, to shorter work weeks, automation, and the manager’s role as relationship-builder, HBR spots trends shaping the labor market across industries.
  • Future of Work Trends in 2022. Power has shifted, from organizations to people. Zeroing in on seven themes, this report asks questions (what is happening? what does it mean? what can you do about it?) and offers analysis to help leaders embrace the power shift and make work, work for everyone.
  • The Great Resignation Doesn’t Have to Threaten Your DE&I Efforts. Useful advice from HBR to help hiring managers break away from fixed mindsets, create more inclusive and accessible requirements, and approach filling gaps and advancing diversity as a both/and, not an either/or.
  • The Scope and Impact of Nonprofit Workforce Shortages. Recommending equity from the outset and other solutions, the Council on Nonprofits confirms that salary competition and lack of child care, alongside burnout, are leading factors in hiring shortages—with dire impacts on community service and core programs.

We’re Hiring!

Do you know how to help adults learn? Can you bring our content to life through excellent curriculum design? Are you aligned with TMC’s approach to management and work practices? We’re looking to hire a Curriculum Designer to shape learning experiences for our clients—leaders, managers, and staff who want to improve their core work and management practices. We are accepting applications through March 13.

Coming soon: a Manager of Client Services opening. Check our website in the next few days for more information.

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