Leading Edge just released a new short video lifting up the voices of amazing leaders in our community that provides an overview of our work, why we do what we do, and what programs we are focused on. Please check it out, then share the link with people in your life who also care about workplace culture and the future of Jewish nonprofits.
It turns out, there is an actual recipe for creating a leader. Start with a heavy dose of dynamic work experience, add a few dashes of mentoring, mix in a pinch of formal training and voila! You have a leader. It’s called the 70-20-10 leadership development model, and it was developed by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) decades ago.
Notice something interesting? A full 70% of this formula hinges upon the cultivation of increasingly challenging, on-the-job “work experiences.” Yet too often this key ingredient is overlooked by managers. After all, it is much easier to simply approve an employee attending a one-off, skill-building course, say, rather than meaningfully support them in leading a new program – a riskier and more time-consuming proposition.
But the latter is exactly what organizations need to do in order to successfully cultivate workplace cultures that enable individuals to develop as leaders. Unfortunately, our sector is falling short in this area.
So how might we maximize this 70%? By promoting feedback.
For the last three years, Leading Edge has asked thousands of employees at Jewish organizations about their experiences at work. And every year we are struck by a fascinating finding – our managers are well liked by those they manage, but they are not viewed as effective as they can be. Why? Because they fail to provide their employees with regular and constructive feedback.
Don’t get me wrong, we give feedback. We are very good at giving positive feedback. We are simply not adept at giving constructive feedback – the kind that helps an individual learn and stretch and grow. In other words, we are very good at offering the yasher koach – not so good at the challenging stuff.
It’s understandable. Most people, especially those who are drawn to purpose-driven professions like those in the nonprofit sector, don’t want to let people down, hurt people’s feelings, or be confrontational. And giving constructive feedback can be risky, especially if one works in an organization that blends the professional and personal spaces (for instance, when one sees their co-worker at a community event or congregation).
So how might we give better constructive feedback?
- Ensure that feedback is a gift. Remember, honest feedback helps employees do their best work and grow professionally. But feedback is only a gift when it is delivered thoughtfully. While these conversations can happen in the moment, more involved discussions should be planned with an agenda so that no one is surprised by the conversation’s trajectory.
- Be mindful. Only initiate a feedback discussion under calm circumstances. Set the tone by ensuring privacy and an ability to focus. Do not sit behind a computer or in a place with many distractions.
- Make it timely and ongoing. Offering feedback just once a year makes the entire interaction far more intimidating (or even downright scary) for both the giver and receiver. And doing so only when the sky is falling casts a negative cloud around the whole dialogue. Provide ongoing feedback to establish a culture of open dialogue, and to reinforce positive behaviors and shift negative ones before they get out of hand.
- Focus on behavior. Feedback should be about the work at hand and the employee’s approach and behavior. Use specific examples and talk about what worked and what could be improved. Share observations, but never any judgments, about the person.
- Be direct. Employees deserve honest, straightforward messages. They should leave with a very clear understanding of what is being asked of them, not a sugar-coated or muddled version of what should have been said. Recap key points at the end of the conversation or ask the other person either to summarize their key takeaways or respond via email after the meeting.
- Make it a conversation. Ask for input from the other person. What do they think about the shared feedback? Would they like to take some time and come back for further discussion?
- Ask for feedback. The most effective leaders and employees are those who ask for feedback. Model an openness to feedback by asking for it regularly and responding positively. This in turn will make it easier to provide feedback to others.
Feedback is the not-so-secret sauce that can super charge our professionals and organizations. Let’s learn how to give and receive it better so that our community can grow trusted leaders and benefit from their strengths.
This article originally appeared on the Mayberg Foundation Blog on February 7, 2019.
Examination of the Jewish nonprofit sector is a critical benchmark in the groundbreaking campaign by top philanthropists to shift workplace culture.
November 29, 2018
Leading Edge, an organization focused on building a robust leadership pipeline for Jewish nonprofits, released today a report detailing the results of its third annual survey of employees in the sector, with tips for how organizations can promote growth in key areas. A total of 7,300 employees across 105 Jewish organizations participated in the 2018 survey. Over the past three years, Leading Edge has surveyed roughly 10% of the total U.S. workforce of the Jewish nonprofit sector..
“The Leading Edge Employee Experience Survey is a critical tool to help the Jewish nonprofit sector manifest our core values,” said President & CEO Gali Cooks. “When leaders participate in this process, they become aware of what changes are needed to become even better places to work.”
The fifty-two (52) organizations that have now taken the Leading Edge survey more than once are making steady, incremental changes that are positively influencing employee culture—75% either improved their scores from year to year, or simply started and remain strong overall.
“While taking the survey is by no means the solution to all workplace challenges, it is a useful tool for organizations to understand their strengths and gaps as an employer,” said Amy Born, Senior Strategist for Organizational Development. “It’s a testament to the field and leaders who do this work that they not only care about the community but the people who serve it as professionals.”
The Leading Edge survey focuses on employee engagement: the level of connection, pride, motivation, and commitment a person feels for their work and how likely they are to stay or leave their place of employment – and the Jewish nonprofit sector as a whole.
Among the key survey findings:
- Jewish nonprofits excel at: connecting employees to mission and imbuing in them a sense of organizational pride; establishing environments of respect; and collaborating within departments.
- Senior leadership, direct managers, and internal communications have the greatest impact on people’s desire to stay or leave their organization.
- Employees place a high value on flexibility within the work environment.
The report also notes a few areas where improvements would further advance the field:
- Strengthening internal communications
- Managing performance through appropriate and ongoing feedback
- Ensuring a more even distribution of work across portfolios
- Setting and communicating an organizational compensation philosophy
- Fostering organization-wide collaboration
- Promoting transparency in advancement opportunities
All of the organizations that participate in the Leading Edge survey agree to embark on a thoughtful, ongoing process of addressing the growing edges that emerge from the survey. Leading Edge offers organizations an onboarding and orientation process to the survey, as well as one-on-one consultations with an organizational development expert who walks them through the survey results and their implications, and discusses ways to take action.
“The Orthodox Union has benefited significantly from participating in the Leading Edge Employee survey,” said Rabbi Ari Rockoff, Director of Leadership Development at the Orthodox Union. “This is the third consecutive year that we have participated and the results have enabled us to develop a targeted strategy in our approach to staff engagement that has already had a transformative impact. Through our work with Leading Edge, we have learned the importance of building a culture of professional growth and development and investing in our most important resource… our people.”
“The Leading Edge Employee survey has had an incredible impact on Bend the Arc and our work on organizational culture,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc. “Each time we’ve participated, the results have enabled us to more clearly assess our strengths and growth areas and benchmark ourselves against our past progress and other comparable organizations. Through our work with Leading Edge, we have made significant strides in our internal communication and transparency, our management practices, and our shared expectations as a staff.”
The full report can be downloaded HERE
An organization’s greatest asset is its people. As a leader of a Jewish nonprofit organization, you are charged with creating an environment where your team can thrive. Leading Edge, in partnership with Culture Amp, has created an Employee Experience Survey to provide leaders of Jewish organizations with insights about their employees’ experience at work, and to offer data and tools to support an organization in becoming an even better place to work.
If your organization would like to participate in the 2018 survey, please APPLY HERE by March 1, 2018.
Organizations must have a minimum of 6 full-time employees, be located in North America, and be a registered 501(c)3 organization to be eligible for the survey. Please check the full criteria here for participation before applying. Only qualifying organizations will be considered and not all applications may be accepted due to limited availability.
Over the past two years, 92 organizations have participated in the Leading Edge Employee Experience Survey. Participating organizations have ranged in staff size from 6 to over 1,000 and have included a robust sample of the Jewish nonprofit sector, including JCCs, youth organizations, federations, social justice organizations, foundations, synagogues, and many others. HERE is the report that emerged from the analysis of the 2017 survey data.
If you have any questions about the survey or Leading Edge, please contact [email protected].
“I spent time on the first few days of my job cleaning out my desk from the person who was there before me. I actually had to bring in cleaning supplies from home. I didn’t stay long at that place.”
~ Jewish Nonprofit Professional
During the past two years, Leading Edge has worked with nearly 100 Jewish nonprofits, helping them identify both strengths and opportunities around workplace culture. Through our Employee Engagement Survey, Leading Edge has provided organizations with critical insights into how their employees experience workplace culture and how they can become even better places to work.
After hearing directly from leaders, managers, and individual contributors, Leading Edge identified a sector-wide need for accessible and quality resources that will help organizations ensure their employees are set up for success, both at the outset and throughout their careers.
To that end, Leading Edge has launched a series of “best practices” guides.
The first guide is focused on Onboarding New Employees.
This guide provides templates and tools for effective onboarding that can be modified to meet the needs of any organization. It focuses on three stages of onboarding:
- What needs to happen before the employee begins
- That crucial first day
- The first week and beyond
It also includes a sample evaluation for employees to take about the onboarding process itself. This provides organizations with ongoing feedback about the onboarding process.
Why onboarding matters
According to research, 22 percent of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment and 4 percent of employees leave a new job after a disastrous first day. This kind of rapid staff turnover represents a significant cost — both financial and cultural — to the organization. On the flip side, according to a 2010 Society for Human Resource Management study, “employees in a well-structured onboarding program are 69 percent more likely to remain at the company after three years.”
Onboarding is not the same as orientation. Orientation might occur on the first day or during the first week, to introduce new hires to policies and procedures as well as the fundamentals of their job. Onboarding is a process that socializes new employees to the organization and ensures they have the necessary skills, relationships, and knowledge to become effective members of the organization.
Effective onboarding is the first step in retaining great talent, but it does not end after day one, or even week one. Most experts agree that onboarding a new hire takes three to six months. While this may sound like a heavy lift, with some thoughtful planning and with buy-in from a few key players, your organization can lay the groundwork for a welcoming and nurturing onboarding process. When done well, onboarding will become a seamless part of your organization and positively impact your entire workplace culture. Investing in onboarding your new employees pays off in their work and the work of those around them.
Stay tuned in the coming months for Leading Edge’s next two guides in our initial Best Practices series.
Click here to stay in touch with Leading Edge.
In my past eight years as CEO of the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit, it has become clearer every day that talent and culture are the two key drivers of organizational success. Thus, when Leading Edge emerged as an entity specifically designed to help strengthen both the talent and culture of our field, I eagerly joined the board, seeing Leading Edge as an ideal vehicle to leverage my limited volunteer bandwidth. By engaging with Leading Edge, I have gained meaningful insight on leadership trends in the Jewish community from a sort of press box view–just as leading my team in Jewish Detroit has given me a view from the field level. It is with this dual perspective in mind that I am sharing these reflections on the latest Leading Edge report on employee engagement in the Jewish nonprofit sector.
Many of you are familiar with the work that Leading Edge has been doing to support Jewish organizations in becoming leading places to work, that actively enable staff members to do their very best. We all know that people are the most valuable asset of the Jewish nonprofit sector. “We” are our product! Without talented, committed professionals, we would be without the great programs and services that strengthen our community and enrich our society. If we fail to cultivate and grow these professionals, we weaken our impact on the world.
To assess where Jewish organizations fall on the spectrum of great workplaces, for the second year in a row, Leading Edge conducted a groundbreaking employee engagement survey. These surveys enabled us to gather insight into what is most important to our employees and provided us with valuable data to build an action plan for growth. This year, nearly 4,500 employees from 68 organizations took this survey. Taken together with last year’s survey, Leading Edge has now surveyed nearly 10% of the Jewish nonprofit workforce. (To download the full report of results from Leading Edge’s Employee Engagement Survey, click here).
The data from this survey is extraordinarily rich, and it’s worthwhile for others to draw their own conclusions from the data. Here are a few of mine:
1. Our mission is our magic
I’m an optimist. I’m in this work because I believe in it. And I’m not the only one. As a sector, we produce tremendous value for the Jewish world and beyond. We educate youth, provide essential services to millions of people in need, and offer rich Jewish experiences for hundreds of thousands of individuals craving connection, community and meaning in their lives. We know that the overwhelming majority of professionals who spend their days doing this work believe deeply in its value. The Leading Edge survey showed that 84% of respondents feel that the mission of their organization enables them to make a difference in the world. This purpose-filled work draws people to our sector and fuels their passion. I believe that mission is our greatest differentiator as far as talent attraction. This is particularly true with respect to millennials.
2. Menschlichkeit is not the same thing as management.
Many of the organizations surveyed do not have sufficient systems and practices in place to train new staff, provide feedback, or hold people accountable. Only 54% of survey respondents had a meaningful performance review in the last year and less than 50% feel that there are structures for accountability at their organizations. This was an area that we at the Federation in Detroit did not score well on in the first survey, leading us to address this issue head on. A lay leader who helped analyze our data said something that resonated with me: “There are natural leaders and natural salespeople, but I have yet to meet a natural manager.” Management is a learned art. So we strengthened our review processes and hired coaches for some managers. These interventions led to an improvement in this area, which I am pretty sure we would not have achieved without the kick in the pants that the survey results provided.
On the other hand, 86% of respondents feel respected and recognized in their workplaces. Note the interesting juxtaposition: While many managers fail to address poor performance, they succeed at helping employees feel recognized and cared for.
It seems we are good at saying yasher koach for a job well done, but struggle with having honest or difficult conversations when employees are not performing well. It is hard to see how employees will continue to advance and grow in their careers if they are not held to meaningful standards.
3. Senior leaders: Do you walk the walk?
As a CEO, I am ever-aware that I play a key role in setting the tone and fostering a positive culture at my organization. My words and actions are under the microscope–as they should be–and my team is attuned to the values I uphold or disregard as I lead the organization.
I was fascinated to see that in this year’s survey overall, respondents felt a strong sense of loyalty and confidence in their individual manager (79%) and significantly less confident in the senior leader of the organization (64%). Based on the data, this lower confidence stems from both a perception of lack of transparency and occasional misalignments of their leader’s behavior with organizational values. When we look at the data on why people stay or leave their organizations, we find that confidence in leadership is a major factor. People stay because of a good boss, and they leave because of a bad one. As senior leaders, walking the walk is one of the most important things we can do.
4. Do our people have a path?
We need to do a better job of providing pathways for advancement, both within and between our organizations. Otherwise, we won’t have talented leaders ready in the wings as our current leaders retire. Anyone who cares about the future of our Jewish community should be alarmed by the fact that only 45% of respondents expect to stay within our sector for five or more years or until retirement.
To what extent do we really invest in our people and enable them to grow? This year’s survey data revealed a fascinating finding: Employees are generally given opportunities to learn and develop in their current roles, but have fewer opportunities for learning that would enable advancement within their organization or beyond. It appears that in our effort to focus on the work right in front of us, we are failing to sufficiently invest in the future growth of our emerging leaders. Only 39% of respondents felt they have opportunities for advancement at their organizations. It is clear that people want to advance and grow and are not finding opportunities to do so, nor do they find their managers supportive of their career growth.
The Bottom Line
Without a doubt, Jewish organizations have a tremendous amount to offer their current and future employees. There are few other sectors that present the opportunity to do such meaningful work, and largely because of this, our ranks are filled with talented and dedicated people. But we must recognize that we have a lot of work to do if we want to continue to attract and retain the best and brightest. We must instill–and truly live out–the policies, practices, and behaviors of great places to work.
But again, I’m optimistic. Leadership and talent are on the map in the Jewish community in a way that they haven’t been previously. As organizations focus on improving their culture and talent development, the Jewish nonprofit sector will be able to better attract, retain and develop talent – our most precious resource.
Leading Edge is here to help. In addition to providing this survey again in April 2018, Leading Edge will continue to work relentlessly to help Jewish organizations improve their culture–curating resources and best practices, providing training, and offering opportunities for organizations to connect with one another to advance these goals.
If you’re interested in joining the movement, don’t be shy — please be in touch.
This article was originally published in E-Jewish Philanthropy on December 6, 2017.
Responses over two years from 10% of Jewish nonprofit sector offer clarity of our challenges and ‘a window to the future’
Contact: Gali Cooks, Executive Director, Leading Edge, (646) 957-6844
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2017
(New York, NY) Leading Edge, an organization founded in 2014 to build a robust talent pipeline for Jewish nonprofits, released today a report detailing the results of its second annual survey of employees in the sector. A total of 4,470 employees across 68 Jewish organizations participated this year, including 31 organizations who took the survey for the second year in a row. Leading Edge has now surveyed 92 unique organizations and roughly 10% of the total workforce of the Jewish nonprofit sector in the United States.
“This in-depth examination by Leading Edge helps us understand more about the sector including who we are, what motivates us to excellence, and how we can best live our values in the workplace,” said Executive Director Gali Cooks. “As organizations focus on becoming great places to work, the Jewish nonprofit sector will be able to better attract, retain, and develop talent–our most precious resource.”
The Leading Edge survey focuses on employee engagement: the level of connection, pride, motivation, and commitment a person feels for their work. Employees respond to questions about their workplace culture, the critical factors that drive their levels of engagement in their job, and what motivates the likelihood that they will stay or leave their place of employment–and the Jewish nonprofit sector as a whole. The 2017 report notes that Jewish nonprofits are excelling in several areas: connecting employees to mission and imbuing in them a sense of organizational pride; establishing environments of respect; and collaborating within departments.
The report notes five areas where major improvements are possible for the field:
- Managing performance
- Ensuring adequate people resources
- Promoting advancement and retention
- Collaborating organization-wide
- Establishing cultures of transparency
“There are many aspects of employee engagement that are going well for the sector. We can leverage those areas to bolster areas that require attention, including focusing more on collaborating and communicating across the organization, investing in career advancement for our high potential leaders, and managing performance more closely,”,” said Amy Born, the lead consultant on Leading Edge’s Leading Places to Work Initiative. “Organizations will be more successful with better feedback loops, greater transparency, and a commitment from leadership to prioritize workplace culture and the overall employee experience.”
All of the organizations that accept the invitation to participate in the Leading Edge survey agree to embark on a thoughtful, ongoing process of addressing the growing edges that emerge from the survey. Leading Edge offers organizations an onboarding and orientation process to the survey, as well as one-on-one consultations with an organizational development expert who walks them through the survey results and their implications, and discusses ways to take action.
“The scope of this survey offers our sector a critical piece of research, and each organization that participates also receives an important diagnostic tool for creating a meaningful internal shift,” said Board Chair Jeff Solomon. “While benchmarks are valuable, Leading Edge believes it is most beneficial for organizations to be able to compare their data year over year. We intend to survey the field on an annual basis, understanding that improving workplace culture is about ongoing effort that takes time, practice, and commitment.”
This year, results detailed that Jewish summer camp is the largest feeder to the sector’s workforce, with 44% of respondents indicating that they were campers and 32% having worked at camp. This year’s results also contain a large sample of Millennials.
“By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials,” said Deputy Director Mordy Walfish. “If we want to build an environment where employees will grow and rise to positions of power, we have to care about the experiences of young people in the workplace today. The survey helps us understand these employees better and provides us a window into the future.”
“The JCC of Greater Baltimore has benefitted significantly from participating in the Leading Edge Employee survey,” said Barak Hermann, CEO of the JCC of Greater Baltimore. “The results have prompted us to create a more intentional employee culture that speaks to the diverse needs of each staff cohort and enables individuals to feel heard. Through our work with Leading Edge, we have strengthened the lines of staff communication, expanded access to the executive team and generally impacted staff attitudes and retention in positive ways. ”
The full report can be downloaded HERE.
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Leading Edge–originally known as the Jewish Leadership Pipelines Alliance–works to build a robust talent pipeline for the Jewish nonprofit sector. Our work addresses the root causes that prevent Jewish nonprofits from having the outstanding leaders they need. http://www.leadingedge.org/
March 15, 2017, New York, NY—Leading Edge released a report today that highlights key areas of opportunity that will enable the Jewish community to attract and retain top talent. The report, Call to Action: How Lay Leaders Can Overcome the Jewish Community’s Leadership Pipeline Challenge, outlines a number of practical steps lay leaders can take to promote progress in building stronger leadership pipelines … READ MORE
Within the next five to seven years, 75 to 90 percent of Jewish nonprofit organizations will be faced with the daunting challenge of replacing their retiring CEOs and senior leaders. The key to filling these spots with highly qualified individuals is a strong pipeline that leads to the top. … READ MORE
Over the next five to seven years an estimated 75%-90% of Jewish nonprofits will have to find a new executive director. … READ MORE