Workshop at the UIA Associations Round Table Europe 2017 with Michel Ballieu 
“Finding – and keeping – the right people”
Associations exist to serve important missions, and, in addition to volunteering experts, our organisations need and deserve to work with talented staff, people having the required experience, people who want to be involved and to work hard. Whether an association has 5 or 100 employees, a strong team is its most important asset. Recruitment of staff members is thus key to the success and sustainability of our associations, but this important task requires not only experience, but also time, a lot of time, and rare are the associations benefiting from a dedicated HR specialist. Often conducting the search for the best candidate can easily become a discouragingly heavy workload.
Brussels, for instance, is very attractive for many citizens from Europe and beyond, being the seat of the EU institutions. Brussels is a real hub for associations. It is not rare to receive 200 or more, sometimes many more, applications for one open position. However, each of these candidates deserves serious attention and fair and rapid treatment. This is a question of ethics and of respect for the candidate, but it is also important for the image of our associations as being serious and credible. How can our associations make sure that the quantity doesn’t affect our capacity to identify the quality among the quantity of candidates?
The very first step to start the process is to define the need which this job will fulfil and to properly describe the tasks and responsibilities. It might seem quite simple and logical; but sometimes, when a new position is created, association leaders have difficulty in defining the right profile for the post, and very often managers have unrealistic expectations and over-ambitious job descriptions. Defining realistic profiles taking into account financial resources, and drafting an appropriate job description will greatly help the potential candidates, limit the number of applications, and facilitate the task of the decision makers for an efficient selection.
This perfectly illustrates that by paying enough attention to each step of the hiring process, from the job description, through the choice of advertising channels, to the interview questions, associations whether large or small can identify, select and hire the best suited person for the role and subsequently achieve his or her rapid integration in the team and in the organisation.
Selecting and hiring staff is a costly adventure, and we could apply the same statement as often used when association membership is discussed: it is more expensive to recruit new employees than to keep those already in place! Recruiting and retaining association professionals are not part of the same process, but the two processes surely depend on the same mind set. The UIA Associations Round Table Europe 2017 will dedicate one of its workshops to the important questions raised by the recruitment process and by the best way to retain the right staff: Michel Ballieu, Association Adviser, will discuss this process with the workshop participants, based on his many years’ experience in hiring and managing association staff such as operational specialists, team managers, and top executive positions.