Build Around the Talent

Find the rockstar talent first, take the time to understand what they need to thrive, then build the job around their needs and interests. They’ll feel motivated to deliver strong work performance and productivity.

In this blessing, we will consider how we motivate and value of our staff by making the context of work – work – for them.

Building around the talent allows talent to thrive because we make the context of work – work – for them. In doing so they:

  • Feel less stressed
  • Feel their needs and interests are heard and validated
  • Feel more valued, and thus will invest more and deliver better results for their organizations

How We Build Around Our Talent

Building around our talent follows a schematic that I learned when working at Jewish summer camp. My former supervisor and camp Director, Jodi Sperling, had decided to build a staff lounge as the first capital improvement of a new camp renovation, rather then a new pool or more camper cabins. Despite push back from her lay and professional leadership, she understood that the magic of camp, and truly the success of any Jewish organization is due to its staff. She knew that a happy staff would lead to happy campers and then a happy camp. This the basis of our schematic below:

Our Plan of Action

  1. Strong Content – Ensure that the staff person’s work portfolio fits their interests. Is it generally what they want to be doing? The more the employee loves the content of their work the more motivated they will be and feel the job fits for them.
  2. Flexibility – Ensure that when the work needs to get done works for the staff person as well, and how might the organization and the talent work together to create a schedule of work that speaks to each party’s organizational and personal life requirements.
  3. Clarity – Ensure that the job goals and expectations are clear for the staff and that they are mutually agreed between staff and the supervisor. Having regular conversations to share updates and feedback will help with clarity.
  4. Relationships – Ensure that the talent is able to connect with others they gravitate to – different organizations or people within the agency with whom they do good work and get along with.
  5. Matterness – Not just the content, but ensuring the work and the goal of the work matters to the employee, and that they find personal passion and satisfaction from what the work is trying to achieve.

Our Portrait: Alyson Bazeley

Alyson Bazeley, the current Assistant Director of URJ Crane Lake Camp, doesn’t thrive as a Jewish community professional simply by the number of children she can get to her programs or much revenue it brings in, nor could she have performed her previous work as a youth educator and engagement director at in synagogues in the typical work box: 40+ hours a week, defined inflexible schedule, that doesn’t balance and make sense for her family, learning, and personal needs.

Alyson exemplifies the Jewish community professional who thrives when her needs are at the center, when she is able to do her work while being fully present with her family, and has the autonomy to design her own schedule and programming that will still meet the goals of her employer. Therefore, our managerial strategies for motivating her should follow suit.

We must take our sights solely off the goal posts of the numbers and employer-only needs that too frequently guide our decision making. Rather, our goal must be to hire the superstars, make whatever job we create with them work for them, and then support and nurture their experiences. Alyson’s journey demonstrates that the return on investment. proves this strategy correct.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What qualities, experiences, and talents do you want your talent to have? How might we focus less on what you think they need to get the work done, and the quantitative measures they need to achieve, and focus on their core attributes?
  2. Once we identify our talent, how might we understand their needs and desires, and see if we can create flexibility around the role that values their time and personal needs?
  3. When negotiating for salary, how we might think generously? In Bless Our Workforce, we discuss that Alyson’s situation is strong because her employers provided her both flexibility and pre-school or summer camp for her children, as well as opportunities to add value for the organization outside of her designated role. Where can you get creative?