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Updated: Feb 22

Authors: Heather Rolinski, VP Nonprofit Effectiveness, and Heather Hunter, Marketing Intern

Long before the Covid-19 pandemic forced many employers to find alternatives to in-person work arrangements, many employees had already begun the transition to working remotely. Between 2005 and 2017, the number of employees working remotely in the United States increased by 159%, and that number jumped by 87% in 2020. Given the widespread changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s likely the number will continue to rise.

While some organizations are planning for an eventual return to a physical office, others have taken the opportunity to switch to a permanently remote workforce. If you’re thinking about a fully remote future for your organization, consider this advice from two executives who have already made the switch.

Think outside of your traditional methods.

Instead of duplicating in-person programming in a virtual space, consider how remote work can help your organization reinvent its established strategies. For example, when Girl Scouts of Central Indiana went remote in 2020, they used the opportunity to expand their geographic reach.

“We have a partnership with coworking spaces in 25 different locations,” explains Danielle Shockey, CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Indiana. “In 19 of these 25 communities, we never had a Girl Scout hub. These spaces have provided a Girl Scout presence where we’ve never had a presence before.” The coworking agreement also introduces Girl Scout employees to other working professionals, who often become guest speakers at virtual events.

Additionally, Girl Scouts introduced pop-up shops and pop-up programming for scouts and their families. These have been well-received by Girl Scouts’ membership base. “Scouts and parents are happy because before now they had to travel, but now we’re bringing shops and programs to them,” Shockey says. The pop-ups have helped the organization leverage their new situation as a separate, but equally effective way to achieve goals.

Try not to micro-manage your team.

Time in the office is an easy gauge for a manager to measure productivity. However, in a remote workplace, managers can’t always see how their team allocates time. This can be a source of stress for those who feel that, without in-person accountability, their teams won’t deliver results.

“I agree that flexibility should be earned. But once earned, if you’re forcing your team to do other micro-managing types of tasks, that’s a recipe for departure,” warns Dr. Michael McRee, COO of the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC). Dr. McRee’s partially remote organization also went fully remote in 2020. In his experience, giving remote employees more freedom can lead to higher satisfaction and better retention rates. Instead of forcing his team to schedule pointless check-ins or work within certain hours, Dr. McRee trusts them to produce results without a structured method. “It’s totally possible to have an accountability system in place that’s about performance and results, but not about micro-managing,” he says. When results don’t happen, then you’re inviting me in to have a conversation about how to improve. When results produce themselves, I don’t have to be in that conversation.”

Communicate openly with stakeholders.

Transparency is paramount when going remote. Leading internal discussions about how to support employees builds a united foundation for the organization’s future. As for volunteers and supporters, regular updates keep them involved in the organization’s progress and appreciative of results.

“Proactively think through communications, engagement, and opinion seeking, as early as possible,” Shockey advises. Girl Scouts took care to explain the benefits of remote work to volunteers, and how savings on overhead were being reinvested into camps and programs. “We wanted them to see that we weren’t leaving them – just bringing ourselves to serve them better, in more convenient ways,” Shockey explains.

NIC upped their email communications with members, exhibitors, and partners. They shared knowledge about pandemic-related changes happening within their industry: from lobbying, to PPE loans, to cleanliness standards. NIC also retained 90% of their exhibitors by offering discounts on the first year of a two-year membership agreement. “We were able to figure out how to increase our service and communication, but still offer discounts that kept them in the tent,” says Dr. McRee.

Continue to build relationships with (and between) your team members.

Many remote workers report feeling isolated and losing their connection to their company’s mission. Dr. McRee combats this through a conscious effort to build friendships within his organization. “The best type of employee relations happen when you know what’s going on with all of your employees personally. It goes beyond work assignments,” he explains. To do this, he suggests adding regular check-ins to your calendar that have nothing to do with work. “Whether that’s a short text, a quick Teams check-in, a Zoom call – just making sure that we’re touching base with people in various ways. It can be on someone’s to-do list,” he explains.

Another way to care for your remote team is to make sure your organization provides for each employee equitably. This can range from internet access, to meeting accessibility, to furniture. “It’s things you wouldn’t normally think about, like: is the chair in their office ergonomically correct?” asks Shockey. Girl Scouts provided their staff with small stipends, which helped them cover unforeseen expenses that came with the change.

Revisit the system frequently, and don’t be afraid to make changes.

As your organization adjusts to remote work, you’ll inevitably hit some snags. Frequent assessments of the system can prevent them from becoming bigger problems down the road. During Shockey's six-month check in with her employees, she asked how the system was serving them, what lessons they’d learned, and how she could help them continue to serve their local populations.

Like the decision to go remote, discussions about change should touch all levels of your organization. If it’s difficult to find productive solutions, or the problems are more serious than expected, bringing in a third party for an organizational assessment can help get things back on track.

Updated: Feb 22

Author: Leah York, CAE, President of Talbott Talent

I love it when my friends share their favorite things with me, so we’re going to do the same for you! These are bite-sized bits of what’s rocking our world right now. It could be a book recommendation, a podcast, a technology solution…who knows what will end up here? It’s designed to be brief so you can get a quick pulse on whether it’s something you want to check out for yourself, or even share with a colleague. AND, if there’s something you’re loving right now that you think WE should check out, please email and let me know!

- Leah

Atomic Habits by James Clear

This is one of those books that was recommended to me, but I kept thinking it sounded like about five other books I’d already read, so I didn’t add it to my reading list right away. After getting recommendations from three people I know, I decided I had better read it and I'm glad I did. If you decide to read Atomic Habits, please share how it impacts you! Here’s what stuck with me…

CONCEPT: Bad habits can get coupled with good or neutral habits. This is actually great news because I can get better by decoupling them.

ACTION: I examined the bad habits in my life, and the one I felt was giving me the most trouble was snacking late at night – it had led to weight gain and poor sleep. I noticed it coincided with watching a movie or television show in the evening. For me, relaxing with a show after work is a neutral habit, but I couldn’t do it without triggering the bad snacking habit that I had coupled with it. So I made the decision not to watch shows in the evening – and guess what? I stopped snacking late at night. I’ve lost weight and am getting better sleep. What a simple fix for something that’s been giving me trouble for years!

QUOTE: “If you can get 1% better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. If you get 1% worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero.”

Talbott Tidbits is a featured section in our newsletter, which comes out monthly. View our archive for the option to subscribe.

Updated: Feb 22

Author: Heather Hunter, Marketing Intern

At Talbott Talent, we’re passionate about strengthening nonprofit organizations through their greatest asset, their human capital. Prioritizing people translates into our own workplace, where our team places a high value on one another. We're pleased to introduce the Talbott Team:

Leah York, CAE - President

Having spent two decades leading and advising nonprofit executives and boards of directors, Leah has a broad range of experience and skills. She founded Talbott Talent to expertly match organizations with the best leaders for their missions. After recognizing the need for not only exceptional candidates, but also more effective organizational structures to support those leaders, she added related consulting services to expand Talbott Talent's impact on the nonprofit sector.

What's the most rewarding aspect of working at Talbott Talent?

The people aspect of my job is the most rewarding…working with a team of smart, talented professionals; hearing a candidate say, “This new job will change my family’s lives forever.”; watching board members become genuinely engaged in the future of their nonprofit.

What's something you hope to learn or improve this year?

It sounds pretty basic, but right now I’m focusing on improving my punctuality. I’m always trying to squeeze in one more task to an already full day and that puts me behind. Through improved self-discipline I’m much better than I used to be, but there’s still more progress to be made.

What's your favorite local place to shop, eat, or otherwise frequent?

Java House in Midtown Carmel, hands down. I can get a bit of work done, bump into some of my favorite people, and enjoy a great cup of cold brew.

Erica Poff, MA, CAE, PMP, IOM – Vice President

Over her career, Erica has worked in several states and countries to expand and vitalize nonprofits worldwide. As our Vice President, she manages search and consulting projects and develops and implements internal business strategies. Her expertise and broad knowledge of the nonprofit sector make her an incredible asset to the Talbott Talent team.

What's the most rewarding aspect of your job with Talbott Talent?

Working with the amazing women on the Talbott Talent team. Each of us brings a different but complementary skill set and professional background that adds a richness to the work we do with nonprofits. And they’re all really cool too!

What's something you hope to learn or improve at this year?

Incorporating mindfulness and gratitude as a natural part of my every day (and not just when I remember to open the apps I have for these on my phone!).

What's your favorite local place to shop, eat, or otherwise frequent?

During non-Covid times, I loved to do brunch on weekends with my husband or a group of friends (my favorite is Northside Kitchenette in Broad Ripple), check out vintage clothing shops in Fountain Square, and go hunting for mid-century anything at Midland Arts & Antique Market downtown.

Heather Rolinski – Vice President, Nonprofit Effectiveness

Heather develops close relationships with our nonprofit clients, working as an advisor and talent development expert. In the past, she has helped organizations form recruiting strategies, increase employee engagement, and transform leadership and culture. She directly increases organizational effectiveness by working from the inside out.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

The ability to work with nonprofits who are truly making a positive impact is incredibly rewarding. I enjoy seeing the ripple effect from our work with our clients out to their members and communities they serve. I also truly enjoy the relationships we form with each client and enjoy our continued partnerships. It's hard when a client engagement ends, because I feel we have become an extension of their team and contribute to their success, which is incredibly rewarding. Thankfully, through the deep relationships we forge, many of our clients return to us and we continue working together. A win/win for everyone!

What's something you hope to learn or improve this year?

This isn't very exciting, but I want to get better at time blocking so I can build in time for special projects or other activities that are important to me. I like to stay very busy, but with that can come a bit of chaos with juggling so many things at the same time (and I happen to suffer from 'shiny object' syndrome). So, I'd like to increase my focus and be more diligent with my time. So many leaders that I coach struggle with the same issue. Maybe we need an accountability group!

What’s your favorite local place to shop, eat, or otherwise frequent?

I love the new cafe in downtown Noblesville, Bica. It's a wonderful eatery and coffee shop with a creative, eclectic menu. Personally, I'm vegetarian and love flavors from around the world. It's nice when we get a new place that has a diverse menu and caters to different dietary preferences. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a good pizza! But it's nice when Hamilton County can spread her wings in the culinary department.

Nancy Elbert – Executive Recruiter

Nancy’s journey in corporate recruitment led her from data systems in Texas, to founding and leading a successful investment company, to using her expertise for Talbott Talent’s executive search projects. For the past five years, Nancy has served on the board of trustees for the University High School of Indiana. She is constantly expanding her knowledge of the nonprofit industry and looking for ways to help others.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job with Talbott Talent?

The most rewarding part of what I do is watching our candidate get hired into what is often their dream job. I love experiencing that joy with them.

What’s something you hope to learn or improve this year?

Technology has always been a challenge for me, so I also hope to discover new ways to stay immersed in its rapid changes as it evolves.

What’s your favorite local place to shop, eat, or otherwise frequent?

I love the Monon trail. I walk around 5 miles a day, and this is my favorite place to do it. There’s a vibe out there that invigorates me; the beauty of nature, the people, and listening to a good podcast as I walk are all part of the experience for me.

Kristin Jarvis – Business Manager

Kristin’s nursing background reflects her caring nature, and her path from the hospital to business management reflects her skill in company and client support. Outside of Talbott Talent, she co-owns a business with her husband; it was named Franchise of the Year in 2019.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job with Talbott Talent?

The most rewarding aspect of working with Talbott Talent is being part of a team that cares about each other and the cause. I especially enjoy when I can take care of the "little" things so that other teammates can take care of the "big” things. When what we do individually comes together, it collectively equals success!

What’s something you hope to learn or improve this year?

I'm working to improve my tech skills!

What’s your favorite local place to shop, eat, or otherwise frequent?

I love to plant fruit trees, perennials, and a garden, so some of my favorite places to shop include Habig Garden, Sundown Gardens and Rural King.

Heather Hunter – Marketing Intern

A recent graduate from IU Bloomington, Heather manages content, contributes to marketing strategy, and designs digital and print media for Talbott Talent. She also works part-time in marketing with Synergize, an atypical networking group focused on lifelong friendships and community impact.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job with Talbott Talent?

I appreciate the opportunity to learn from such intelligent, driven women with so many diverse talents. They inspire me so much! I also really enjoy serving multiple causes through our clients.

What’s something you hope to learn or improve this year?

I know a lot about communication, but I don’t have as much business acumen as I wish I did. I’m hoping to gain those skills through an MBA that I plan to start this fall. I also want to decrease my consumption of single-use plastic.

What’s your favorite local place to shop, eat, or otherwise frequent?

I love earrings, and Silver in the City in Carmel has an amazing selection. I actually try to stay away from there as much as possible, because I’ll spend all my money if I’m not careful!

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