Courtney Spence on How Recruiting Priorities Change as Non-Profit Grows

In Chapter 9 of 19 in her 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, non-profit executive Courtney Spence answers "How Are Your Recruiting Priorities Changing As Your Organization Grows?"  Referencing Jim Collins, author of "Built to Last", Spence notes how it is about getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats.  She shares how growth requires more specialization in job description and greater demand for positive minded team members who critique constructively.  As Founder and Executive Director, Spence leads non-profit Students of the World to empower college students to use film, photography, and journalism to tell stories of global issues and the organizations working to address them.  Spence graduated with a BA in History from Duke University.


Erik Michielsen:  How are your recruiting priorities changing as your organization grows?

Courtney Spence: So – I know I talk about Jim Collins a lot but he always talks about the importance of getting the right people on the bus. And, you know, the right people in the right seats on the bus is really, really important and I think that the growth that we have gone through this last half year went from a core staff of 3 that did all things all the time always, all 3 of us, to a staff including volunteers of 12 to 15 where everybody has a defined role and responsibility. Now, granted there’s a lot of fluidity to that definition, we’re still a scrappy, boot-strapping type organization but I’ve recognized the importance of not just getting the right people on but the right people in the right seats.

And the importance of getting people who are really motivated by the vision that you have, and they might differ on how we get to that vision and you want them to challenge you on decisions you make, and you want them to be part of shaping the how we get there, but you cannot, absolutely cannot especially in times of growth and scale, have people on board that are naysayers for the sake of saying nay. You know, you can’t have people that are gonna be challenging and critical because that might be his or her nature, you can’t have people that are challenging and critical because they are scared about the direction you’re going in.

You really need to find people that are gonna be challenging and critical for the ultimate purpose of getting to that vision more effectively and more quickly and more meaningfully than you might know, if that make sense, so I think the – my recruiting and my understanding of who are the people that we wanna add onto our family has really, really matured in the last 6 to 9 months significantly.