Pro Bono Spotlight: Bob Cummins
As part of National Volunteer Week, we are proud to recognize another member of our HR Pro Bono Corps. Bob Cummins, founding partner of PeopleWorx, LLC joined the Corps in December 2013 and is close to completing the first of three phases of his first project. Let’s find out more about Bob and his volunteer experience:
Tell us a little more about your background and how you got involved in the HR Pro Bono Corps.
I've been involved in leadership and talent development for a number of years as an independent consultant and internal OE resource. Bob Nutting introduced me to the HR Pro Bono Corps. He and I had worked together at Land O'Lakes, Inc. and stayed in touched over the years. As I moved back into independent consulting, Bob called to see if I would be interested in sharing some of my time and experience.
Since joining the HR Pro Bono Corps, what volunteer projects have you worked on?
Currently, we are supporting a fairly large nonprofit with 45 employees and a large volunteer staff. One of their more pressing needs was in evaluating and improving their performance management process. As I got to know them a little better, I discovered they had a lot of tools in place, but really needed an outsider’s perspective to help them refine their strategic approach. I’ve worked with the CEO and CFO to clarify their organizational goals and ensure there was clear ownership and measurable results. Going forward, I will provide tools and templates to facilitate the goal setting and performance review process. I’m working very closely with them during the design and development phase and will be on call with them during this first goal-setting and evaluation cycle. While it is a much broader project than originally envisioned, I think will be far more impactful for both the organization and for me.
What has been the most rewarding part of this experience?
As with any client, working with them as they discover and implement each improvement is rewarding. Most organizations are understaffed and have high levels of ambition to improve processes yet few actually have enough bandwidth to make their vision come to life. Taking things one step at a time makes sure there is ongoing buy in and ownership of the issue and proposed solutions, assuring the implementation is manageable.
I have primarily worked with for-profit companies and this project is a great opportunity for me to refine the skills I have developed over my years in learning and performance management. It allows me to apply my experience in a new setting and to refine my approach for a new sector.
What advice would you give to someone before volunteering their time in the HR Pro Bono Corps?
Take your time up front to make certain you understand the client's need and so the client fully understands their own need as well. Make sure what you think you are working on is, in fact, what the client thinks they want. Continually revisit this question to strengthen alignment. It is essential to help the client comprehend the commitment they are making by taking on the project.
It’s important to get an explicit commitment by the leaders of the organization to stay involved. Many projects require cross-functional engagement. The client's internal project owner is essential for success. That person’s ability to influence team members, to gain support and to communicate progress will make all the difference in the success of the project.
Make sure they are dedicating enough effort and resources to actually make it happen and lay out a project plan with milestones and deliverables that not only the volunteer will provide but also the client will deliver.
Thank you Bob for your dedication to this project and continued support of the nonprofit sector. If you are interested in learning more about the HR Pro Bono Corps, check out the six benefits of volunteering and sign up today!