Is recruiting and team building different for social enterprises from other companies?
Yes and no. But mostly, yes.
Of course, since they’re focused on additional bottom lines, social enterprise startups have to address concerns more-traditional companies don’t need to consider. But at the same time, they’re profit-making entities, too, and need to manage themselves in much the same way as any other business.
To get more insights into recruiting and team building considerations for social enterprises, I talked to three experts: Erin Worsham,managing director, Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE), which is part of the Fuqua Business School; Jeffrey Perlman, founder and CEO of Bright Power, a 30-person New York based consulting firm specializing in renewable energy and energy efficiency; and Stefan Doering (I also wrote about him in my last post), who heads Shift Group, a New York-based consulting and training firm focused on issues related to sustainability.
Here are highlights of what they said.
Erin Worsham, CASE
When recruiting, your first filter should be skills, says Worsham. Commitment to the mission is important and a close second, but finding people with the necessary skills is foremost. As for having appropriate commitment, talking the talk isn’t enough. “They should be able to demonstrate they have a real passion for the social or environmental mission,” she says.
In certain respects, the recruiting task is harder, she says, than it is at other companies. That’s because running a social enterprise is more complicated than operating a conventional one, since you have three bottom lines. So you need people capable of understanding all that complexity. Not always easy to accomplish.
On the other hand, being a cause-driven business can also be a major attraction for like-minded people looking to do good and make a living, according to Worsham. A recent Net Impact study report found 58% of students surveyed would choose a 15% pay cut if they could work for an organization that shared their values.
Worsham urges social enterprise founders to think hard about retention. There’s a lot of burnout among employees, she says. “You’re working for a cause you feel really passionate about. You want to work really hard to have an impact,” she says. “People burn out if they don’t see the needle moving.”
Jeffrey Perlman, Bright Power
Perlman, who started his business in 2004, says you have to be careful about passion. “You can find people who are really excited about what you do, but they aren’t a great fit for your needs,” he says. “You have to go beyond their enthusiasm and make sure they’re a match.” While his current 30-person staff, he says, is “great”, in the beginning “when I didn’t know exactly what I was doing we hired some enthusiastic people who weren’t the right fit,” he says. “So we learned.”
He borrows an approach used by tech companies and gives employees stock options. That’s to boost a feeling of ownership. “This is more than a job,” he says.
Stefan Doering, Shift Group
If you have a clear vision and you know what your mission is about, you’ll probably have a leg up over other companies in attracting talented employees, he says. And once they’re hired, they’re likely to be harder working and more committed. An example: Doering ran a green retail store in the 90’s that grew too fast. When he had to close it down, he recalls, his employees came in to help, even though they weren’t getting paid.
But the place to start is with the vision thing. “To build a team quickly, having a powerful vision really helps,” he says.
For original article click here.