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Becoming One of the Best NGOs to Work for in India

The Organizational Effectiveness team is delighted to share this post from Jyoti Puri, the Human Resources Director at Ipas Development Foundation (IDF), on her experience in implementing a talent management OE project that not only boosted staff morale but also impacted IDF’s ability to attract new and better talent.

The Ipas Development Foundation (IDF) is dedicated to preventing and managing unwanted pregnancies. IDF believes that no woman should have to risk her life or her health because she lacks reproductive health care, and every woman must have the opportunity to manage her fertility. They currently work in 12 states across India and undertake initiatives in the realms of policy, advocacy, research, and community outreach to complement their training efforts on comprehensive abortion and contraceptive care. IDF has been a grantee of the Packard Foundation since 2014. Currently, the Foundation’s support to IDF is focused on expanding access to safe abortion care, including medical abortion in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Since I joined IDF three years ago, it has gone through an exciting period of rapid expansion – after starting much smaller, today we have 181 team members spread across 12 states of India.

As the HR Director of IDF, I was privy to the challenges of this growth and expansion. One serious challenge: people who had before been individual contributors – with immense experience and knowledge of implementing programs on the ground — were becoming team managers for the first time. Understandably, they needed support in taking on this new role. Their success in these positions was critical for the future of our organization. Our next line of managers and leaders needed to be ready to take up more challenging roles given the growth we envisaged for the organization.

With support from an OE grant, IDF engaged a global company with experience in leadership development and coaching to deliver a talent development strategy. While we realized this project would be time and resource intensive, we also knew it would critically contribute to increasing the strength of our organization.

Here’s what we did: through conversations with employees, we set out to identify specific managerial competencies which would make our mid-managers function effectively in their evolved job areas. These included:

  • Delegation
  • Collaboration
  • Conflict resolution
  • Communication, and
  • Capacity building.

To tailor the learning journey to the specific needs of each participant, a comprehensive 70-20-10 framework was applied, combining on the job training, coaching and continued mentoring. Each participant was assigned an individual coach to partner with in this intensive journey and provide support and insight. Through coaching calls (by telephone), each coach helped participants identify areas for improvement and ways to work on them. The coaches provided simple frameworks and tools that participants could use in their day-to-day interaction with others. For example, one tool was called I-WE-IT — ”I” being myself as an individual, “WE” being me and my supervisees as a team, and the “IT” being the task to be done. Participants learned that it was very important to never lose sight of the “IT” but to also ensure that the “WE” does not lose out. This was a way to think about being sensitive even when in high-pressure situations of chasing a deadline. This action learning cycle helped to translate the changes into the reality of the participant’s work context and environment.

In addition, the program included two workshops that brought participants together to share their challenges and frustrations, to share their experience of going through the coaching programs, and to reflect on the changes they observed within themselves. The workshops were a great platform for the participants to open up, listen to and share their experience of overcoming challenges of working with tough supervisees or simply in tough situations. One of the participants later told me that it was heartening to see that the challenges she faced as a first-time supervisor were not unique and were in fact a part of a growth journey. Simply sharing challenges made her feel light and showed her new ways of managing work and team relationships.

Overall, the training program helped the leaders develop self-awareness by coaching them to analyze their key strengths and areas of improvement, to understand how they can utilize these strengths to handle difficult situations, and to know how this impacts the work of others. Improving their supervisory skills has improved work efficiencies of these managers – they have improved relationships with their supervisees while also delegating work more effectively with clear accountability, authority and timelines. At the organizational level, there is increased decentralization of management to the field.

Given the positive impact of the program, IDF has embarked on an ongoing journey of cultivating and developing talent within the organization. Based on the learnings from this program, we have arrived at a strategy to continue implementation of this initiative and have extended similar training to other supervisors.

The success of this program led to IDF’s accreditation as one of India’s best NGOs to work for in 2017 by Great Place to Work Institute. I (happily) sense the morale boost this accreditation has brought to our team members and also the impact it has on our ability to attract new and better talent. This reaffirms my belief in the importance of investing in skill development of employees for the success of the work of the whole organization.

1 Comment

  1. The talent management organizational effectiveness project was nice to improve the ability of middle mangers. The most important part of that project was to provide coaches who used to interact with the participants personally. It intense discussion to know the problems/gaps and further those issues were addressed. Coaches also given various tips to improve the subordinates and supervisors coordination.
    Over all it was nice to attend.

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