Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life is undertaking cutting-edge human resources initiatives to attract, train and retain professionals to better serve Jewish college students.
The organization marked one success when a new book cited Hillel as an example of a Jewish organization that is taking positive steps to address the issue of life-work balance. Leveling the Playing Field: Advancing Women in Jewish Organizational Life, co-authored by Shifra Bronznick, Didi Goldenhar and Marty Linsky, reports that Hillel changed its personnel code to recognize the importance of family obligations: "Staff is encouraged to be responsive to their family, religious, and personal commitments and obligations..."
Hillel's comprehensive, bottom-to-top human resources initiative was begun as one goal within Hillel's five-year Strategic Plan which directed the organization to be an employer of choice, to develop career paths for talented professionals, and to increase professional development in order to strengthen staff performance and satisfaction.
"We understand that talented professionals are the key to doubling the number of Jewish students who are involved in Jewish life and who have meaningful Jewish experiences," explains Hillel President Wayne Firestone. "We are investing heavily in human resources so that our students can have the kind of professional guidance and mentorship that they need and deserve."
"I believe that our campus Hillels are only as successful as the professionals who staff them. Recruiting, retaining and training first-class professionals builds strong campus communities and enables Jewish student life to flourish,” says Carol Smokler, chairperson of Hillel's Human Resources Committee.
Hillel field professionals, lay leaders and headquarters staff worked together on the Human Resources Committee to devise a program that would fulfill the Strategic Plan goals. “This has been a collaborative effort of those who understand the nuances of Hillel, campus life and the millennial generation,” explains Hillel Executive Vice President Scott Brown.
Hillel retained outside consulting firms to take advantage of the latest approaches to human resources in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. Hillel adopted a series of professional development tools that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART). These "SMART Goals" focus on three basic areas: leadership development, success factors and talent recruitment.
Brian Cohen, executive director of University Virginia (UVA) Hillel, is one of 11 Hillel directors to receive executive training known as "Next-Level Coaching" which helps to hone leadership and organizational skills. Cohen meets with his coach twice a month.
"I became an executive director at a young age and I feel I learned a lot on the job," says Cohen. "To have someone working with me [as a coach] and pushing me along is really beneficial for me professionally and ultimately beneficial to UVA Hillel."
Cohen's coach, Rae Ringel, is president of the Ringel Group, LLC, which provides leadership training and motivation coaching to a number of prestigious non-profit groups. The Ringel Group is providing certified coaches who work for six months with directors such as Cohen who have been with Hillel from three to five years. The Ringel group is also training more experienced foundation executive directors to mentor 10-15 colleagues who are at an earlier stage of their professional development for 18 months.
"Our approach to developing our Hillel executives is unique in that we have developed a program that reflects what their professional needs are at the various stages of their professional development. Our goal is to help them hone their own professional voices so that they can perform at the highest level," explains Hillel Executive Vice President Scott Brown. "We're taking the executive leadership paths of our professionals very seriously. We know that helping them reach their professional goals will greatly benefit our students and our organization as a whole."
The Hay Group, a world-class professional consulting group, has also teamed with Hillel to develop a Success Factors and Planning, Feedback and Evaluation (PFE) Tool. Piloted in the spring of 2007, 100 Hillel professionals on 15 campuses have been using the PFE tool to help Hillel's International Center understand the specific characteristics that make Hillel professionals successful.
"The Success Factors help us define our core competencies," explains Brown. "Then we can better answer the question, 'What enables our professionals to be excellent?' These competencies are vital to our success and unique to Hillel. By having this common language, we will be able to recruit and train our professionals using the Success Factors or core competencies are our foundation."
Hillel has identified 11 Success Factors that speak to the way professionals relate, inspire, lead and excel in their roles on campus.
"We're finding it's an incredibly useful way of examining our work," says Gordon Gladstone, assistant director of Hillel at the University of California, Berkeley. "It's easy to get caught up in emails and meetings. This model allows us to stop, look at our work and think, 'To what degree am I an effective mentor? How do I inspire students and staff?’”
Not only is Hillel working to improve the effectiveness of its professional staff through leadership coaching and success measurement, but also by seeking out the brightest talent through a number of new talent recruitment initiatives.
The Hillel Hundred is a pilot program that tasks Hillel with identifying 100 high-level individuals in the Jewish community who will strategically connect human resources with large networks of talent that reach beyond the Jewish community. Ultimately, Hillel will recruit leaders from varying professional backgrounds who are able to bring new skills to the organization.
In addition, the Talent Pipeline Project will identify high potential external and internal candidates with the potential to become executive directors. External candidates will be invited to participate in unique Hillel experiences such as national conferences and trips and internal candidates' skills will be developed through customized training and professional development opportunities.
Through consultation with Korn/Ferry International, a leading talent recruitment firm, Hillel is developing a unique interview protocol that utilizes the Success Factor model for use by both lay leaders and directors.
While the focus of these initiatives is Hillel professionals who work on college campuses, Hillel's international headquarters staff is also benefiting from new developments in human resources. Hillel has partnered with the Great Place to Work Institute, Inc., to survey employees in Hillel's Charles and Lynn Schusterman International Center and to recommend necessary changes to help it become a "great place to work."
To learn how you can work for Hillel, visit www.hillel.org/careers.