Staff and Board Recruitment, Development and Retention

Finding, engaging and retaining qualified, interested human resources to support the needs of a water utility are becoming increasingly difficult.  However, all ongoing business concerns, public or private, cannot function without appropriate human resources.  To this point, utilities need tools to recruit new staff and where necessary Board members, to develop staff and Board members through appropriate training and mentoring, and to retain staff and Board members such that the investment in time and money to recruit and develop personnel is not lost.


Recruitment of human resources is developed through any number of means; however, recent developments in social networking media and platforms can enhance and complicate the process of finding and engaging new staff and Board members.  Nonetheless, these new tools are available today and those with appropriate skills and techniques can leverage the internet based programs to search for and attract new staff and Board members.  However, the old ways of networking and advertizing can still be effective and are therefore important.

A partial list of recruitment methods are listed below:

  • Advertize in newspapers and on the web
  • Pay current staff for referrals
  • Provide mentoring to “grow your own” through families, churches, schools, and other organizations
  • Create a video (for You Tube)
  • Pay higher wages
  • Consider hiring retirees
  • Leverage regional relationships (e.g., share employees)
  • Create a presence at local college (e.g., OJC, Lamar Community College, or CSU-Pueblo)

Staff development ensures that employees continue to strengthen their work efforts throughout their career. In all cases, great employees make stronger and greater organizations. Organizations are dynamic, especially today. These dynamics make it necessary for staff to be continually updated and trained in new methodologies. Staff development helps build commitment between employees and the organization. Staff development increases the quality of service provided by the organization. Finally, staff development helps employees see a future in their efforts, and builds strong and effective relationships between the staff and the organization.

The following is an all inclusive list of some guidelines to consider when you are developing performance evaluations and performance evaluation documentation. Note that in many situations this list is far more comprehensive than is necessary; however the themes that are contained below should be helpful to anyone developing staff.

Performance Criteria - Does the employee demonstrate interest and commitment to the position by improving process, product or the work environment?

Attendance - Does the employee’s attendance record meet organizational standards?  Does the employee’s attendance affect the organization positively or negatively?

Attitude and Cooperation - What kind of attitude does the employee have toward his or her peers? Does he or she perform duties outside of their normal function?

Communication Skills - Does the employee communicate well verbally and in writing so issues are solved with customers and the organization?

Organization Oriented - Does the employee have a view of the organization broader than his or her duties?

Focus - Is the employee able to prioritize and accomplish his or her duties in a timely manner? Are they able to balance work with personal business and socializing with other employees?

Improvement - Does the employee demonstrate adequate improvement from one evaluation to the next?

Integrity - Is the employee ethical and respectful of colleagues and customers?

Able to Function Independently - Is the employee self-motivated, but knows when to ask for support or ask questions?

Level of Knowledge -Does the employee have the necessary knowledge to perform the job?

Productivity and Deadlines - Is the employee providing service to the organization and meeting organizational deadlines?

Quality of Work - What kind of feedback do you get from customers and co-workers on the employee’s work?

Reliability - Is the employee a “go to” person?

Stress - How does the employee deal with stress and change?

Teamwork - Does the employee pitch in and volunteer for tasks outside of their designated duties?

To create a staff development plan, the organizations members should consider the following issues:

  • Identify the organization’s needs
  • Identify types of  training and when the training should take place for current and new staff
  • Make sure staff has the time to prepare for and attend the training
  • Develop a process to evaluate the training
  • Plan follow-up  to the training for evaluation and valuation
  • Find job activities that put the training to work
  • Create a meaningful reward system for staff to become trained and employ new skills

The organization may want to consider the following points when developing a staff development plan:

  • Determine the development needs of the staff. This can be done in consultation with the staff and managers of other organization that interact with the staff.
  • Write how improvement for each development need can be measured. This should be specific and quantifiable, such as a specific production rate and a percentage improvement in defects.
  • Develop ways in which the development needs can be addressed and improved. Ways to develop improvements can be specific training courses, attendance at seminars, cross training with other employees or an increase in time spent on specific work activities.
  • Decide on a time line for the development. This includes when training and development and evaluation needs will be met, and when improvements will be measured. These are usually done in terms of annual performance evaluations.
  • Conduct and record the results of an annual performance evaluation that includes an assessment of current performance, training needs and input from the employee.
  • In the hiring process, make sure that all government regulations and requirements are considered, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act.
  • Develop a performance enhancement program that is objective and fair, but can result in the release of an employee that is not meeting the requirements of the job description. 



Board recruitment and development focuses on many of the same networking and social connections that are discussed in the staff development section.  In that Board membership typically involves the commitment and engagement of volunteers to support the organizations in its efforts to develop and sustain business operations, Board members that are familiar with the needs of the water company are desired.  Development of Board members therefore typically include the following tasks (from the Council of Non-Profits):

Find the "right” board members - Start with what your nonprofit needs: A board member with financial expertise? Connections in the community? Someone familiar with the individuals served by the nonprofit? Once you have identified what skills and experience your nonprofit needs, you're ready to identify and recruit new board members. The recruitment process requires both "vetting" a candidate and “cultivating” the interest of a potential future board member until he or she is ready to accept an invitation to become an ambassador for the nonprofit. Some nonprofits “test drive” potential board members by asking them first to serve on a task force or to volunteer for the nonprofit in another way. Need help finding the right board member? Contact your State Association of nonprofits (, local United Ways, or local community foundation, any of which may have suggestions for board-match programs in your area.

Decide whose job it is to recruit new board members – While it could be everyone's job to be on the look-out for potential new board members, it's best if the actual invitation to join a board is extended only by those current board members who have been specifically authorized to extend an invitation, sometimes after the full board has already approved the candidate. This usually happens after the “Board Governance Committee” (sometimes called the “Board Development Committee” or the "Governance Committee") has vetted a list of potential prospects and decided not only who should be asked, but also determined who the best person to make the ask will be. Often who asks, makes a difference in whether the candidate says 'yes.'

It's more than just a nominating committee -  Calling the committee that identifies new board members the “Nominating Committee” implies that its only function is to nominate board members for election to the board. But serving on a charitable nonprofit's board is about more than just being elected – it’s about constantly learning about the organization, providing stewardship, and becoming the most effective problem solvers and policy-makers possible for the nonprofit. We suggest naming this committee the “Board Development Committee” or the “Board Governance Committee” because its focus should go well beyond nominating to ensuring that the nonprofit has effective governance practices, that the board is fulfilling its role effectively, and evaluating itself regularly to ensure that it is fulfilling its obligations as a caretaker and steward of the nonprofit's assets, reputation, financial and human resources, and mission.

Onboard with vigor - Bringing on a terrific board member is only the first step. Make sure the board member becomes engaged in the work of the board and feels that his or her time is well spent. Finding the right committee for the new board member can be helpful to ensure early engagement. Some people join boards to share their professional expertise with the nonprofit. Others want to do something completely different as a volunteer from what they do in their everyday job, so make sure your new board member has an assignment that suits him or her well. Assign new board members a mentor and use name tags at meetings so that new board members can get to know their colleagues easily.

Beyond orientation - Society expects so much from our volunteer board members – in turn we need to thoughtfully prepare and support them. Rarely do new members arrive on the board with years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Most often they will have only a passing familiarity with what a nonprofit is all about, but lots of passion for the mission of your organization. Consequently, regularly educating your board members about their important role and about the nonprofit itself should be a high priority.

  • Self-assessments of boards and board members.
  • More thoughts about “board member contracts” from Blue Avocado.
  • Great board meetings take time to plan, but the rewards of sending out a great board packet will bring you immediate ROI! What should go in the "board packet?"(Blue Avocado).



For Staff Issues and evaluation-plan.html

For Board Issues