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Management on the move:
How to retain your best NFP leaders

The Maxxia Workplace Insights Not-for-Profit Sentiment Study found that managers within the not-for-profit (NFP) sector are more likely to leave than their counterparts in the broader workforce. Understanding how to retain the best leaders will help NFPs increase staff satisfaction across the organisation.

Maxxia study found that half of managers in the NFP sector have thought about leaving, with one-third actively exploring other opportunities. And while NFP employees as a whole are less likely to leave than those in other sectors, this is not the case for managers, with NFP managers being 14 per cent more likely to leave than their counterparts in the broader workforce.

The key to retaining the best managers within a NFP organisation lies in understanding the reasons managers consider leaving in the first place.

Understanding what managers want could have a significant impact on retention

The research highlights that the reasons for managers leaving NFPs fall within four key areas: poor career progression (30 per cent), poor management/supervision (24 per cent), poor morale (24 per cent) and high stress (23 per cent).

David Armstrong, head of corporate research at Sweeney Research, underlined this at the national launch of the Maxxia Workplace Insights study, saying, “For managers, it’s all about their career prospects, having clear performance targets, getting feedback and formal performance reviews. This is further evidence that working in a not-for-profit… is not just about positively impacting people’s lives. It’s also about ‘my’ career.”

Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO Australian Council of Social Services, believes there is also an organisational growth factor involved in the issue of managers’ career satisfaction. By design, smaller NFPs allow managers more control and engagement in strategic goals, but this can become lost as the organisation grows.

At the launch of the study, Dr Goldie said, “As you get larger and larger, you tend to separate out… functions into much greater specialisation, whereas in a small community organisation you’ve got to be prepared to be a bit of everything. You can be in a large national meeting talking about policy, and the next day you’re back talking to people... Ways in which we can redesign functions within larger organisations to enable that multiplicity of engagement in different parts of the work… is a really exciting opportunity for us to think through.”

Using feedback processes such as employee surveys and exit interviews to study retention drivers within your organisation will enable you to identify key issues impacting your employee satisfaction. Your retention strategy should focus on leveraging the positive feedback as well as developing areas of dissatisfaction.

Retaining top leaders requires strategy

Higher management retention rates positively impacts the whole organisation, as a strong manager is able to provide high levels of satisfaction within their team by influencing morale and managing employee performance. If a manager leaves, there are also financial impacts in recruiting and training new managers, plus hidden costs such as loss of knowledge within the organisation and NFP sector as a whole.

A talent management strategy is vital to identify those managers with the strongest fit with the organisation. Once identified, you can focus on nurturing and developing these managers through training, development and mentoring to retain key leaders.

NFPs with a talent-management strategy that aims to retain their best managers through engagement, lateral career moves and career progression, will benefit with a management team that inspires trust across all levels of the organisation.

Register for the Maxxia Workplace Insights Not-for-Profit Sentiment study for more information to shape your attraction and retention strategies.


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