Talent development

Summary of Week 5 of Human Capital Strategy for Social Enterprises (Novoed – Acumen / Hitachi Foundation)

It can pay off to establish a culture of learning and development early on because it will sow the seeds of a company’s future success, even survival. If implemented effectively, a learning and development program can optimise the performance of the team and prepare the ‘next generation’ of leaders for the organisation, reinforce values and culture, and increase employee engagement.

The reading recommended the 70-20-10 framework of talent development, where 70% comprises experiential learning or on-the-job experiences, 20% informal training and coaching, and 10% formal training. The good news is that early-stage, resource-constrained organisations often have plenty ‘stretch assignments’ to choose from

70-20-10 framework

Only 10%  is spent on formal training. According to Molly Alexander, Head of Talent Development at Acumen, formal training is not a magical fix for talent development needs. The real key to success is setting up a culture where new skills are embedded into everyday routines.

Key areas for employee skill development in the social enterprise sector are:

  • Core competencies which are the skills that define how people get things done.
  • Technical skills necessary for employees to develop in service of ultimately tackling more sophisticated challenges within their functional area
  • Understanding of the sector and organisation in order to see the big picture.


Optimising Performance

Summary of Week 4 of Human Capital Strategy for Social Enterprises (Novoed – Acumen / Hitachi Foundation)

Performance management typically includes goal setting, metrics or reliable measures, feedback, and outcomes. Feedback on how employees are delivering results should occur regularly (instead of just during performance reviews). I liked the idea of Netflix’s anonymous informal 360-degree system. Even though they moved on to signed feedback, I think it would be a good start for our NGO to get into the culture of providing feedback!


Summary of Week 3 of Human Capital Strategy for Social Enterprises (Novoed – Acumen / Hitachi Foundation)

Before embarking on the recruitment process, you must first determine the roles that you need to hire for. For me at this point, this is the toughest challenge! There are so many roles we could like to fill that it is difficult to prioritise the most important.

The recruitment process could be viewed in 4 stages:

  1. Scoping the job – developing a scorecard
  2. Sourcing candidates
  3. Screening and selecting candidates
  4. Closing

Scoping the job – developing a scorecard

A scorecard, rather than a job description, describes a set of outcomes and competencies that define a job well done. Sounds great on paper, but that seems too output-focused (which may create skewed incentives), and might only be appropriate for certain types of roles.

Sourcing candidates

Looking in the right place is important! Ideally, I think we would recruit internally from our pool of volunteers – assuming they are on the job market!

Screening and selecting candidates

I like the advice of selecting talent that aligns with the organisational values and that contributes to the organisation’s diversity. The recommendation to conduct trial tasks as part of the screening process is effective too! That’s where recruiting from our pool of volunteers is helpful, because we already have a sense of what they are capable of.


Recruiting is just as much about selling our organisation. As a small organisation, WISE would probably face challenges with this. And there’s a chicken and egg problem. You can’t grow the organisation without talent, but you can’t attract talent if you don’t grow. Hmm!

Values and Culture

Summary of Week 1 of Human Capital Strategy for Social Enterprises (Novoed – Acumen / Hitachi Foundation)

The most effective companies are built by collaborative, high-performing teams that engage the complex systems in which they operate. Values and culture are foundational to building a social enterprise’s human capital strategy.

In the reading, we were given examples of organisational values and guided through the process of creating our own. An especially useful exercise was to describe examples of how the values will be translated into actions. This is what I came up with:


What do you think? 😉 I will be circulating this to our team to get feedback!