Reach geographic diversity in collaboration with underrepresented member states

What to include in an effective Action Plan? Outsource the sourcing activities.

Even when staff representation is embarrassingly low, very few (or no serious) donors would stoop so low that they would play the funding card.

When the proportion, however, between staff representation and funding is way off, it is in both parties best interest to agree on an Action Plan.

In this context, an Action Plan is a 'document' that states both parties' interests in working towards increasing the number of staff from that particular donor. The Action Plan validity is normally 36 months (three years) with a mid-term review after 18 months.

I have had the fortune to be negotiating Action Plans both as a donor representative and an organization representative. In this article, I will elaborate on how to make an Action Plan more effective and you will find answers to:

  1. What type of targets to include in the Action Plan?

  2. What budget to allocate?

  3. What actions to take to deliver on the plan?

How to build an effective Action Plan?

The use of Action Plans is questioned. Some organizations are open to the idea, but others are completely against signing any type of 'document' that would reveal any effort to work towards recruiting a certain nationality. And after the completion of the Action Plan, donors are generally more unsatisfied than the organization.

The use of Action Plans is clearly political. In this article, I have ignored the political angel and instead focused on how to use an Action Plan effectively, and drilled it down to three questions to ask.

1. Have you included activities in your Action Plan?

When reading through Action Plans, it is clear that both parties know what they want to achieve. The goals and targets are formulated in a measurable way. The targets are more or less formulated the same in every Action Plan.

A baseline number is decided, and the objectives are either an increase in headcounts or in percent.

To be successful, you will need an Action Plan that runs over a minimum of three years. The time can be shortened, but that would entail higher outreach costs.

Among the better Action Plans I have seen, the Action Plan is divided into sub-goals like the sample below.

  • During year 1 the focus is awareness building. To measure increased awareness, you track the number of job views compared with the time before the Action Plan. Activities to increase awareness are target outreach, newsletter promotion, and participation in Impactpool's Virtual Career Fairs.

  • During year 2 the focus is continued awareness building but with an increased focus on CTR monitoring - (Click-Through Rate). The target is to increase the number of views and submitted applications. Activities to increase awareness and CTR are target outreach, Impactpool's career webinars, and participation in Impactpool's Virtual Career Fairs.

  • During year 3 the focus is continued awareness building and CTR tracking but adding a list of hire-able candidates. This is done by building more candidate rosters with the type of profile the donor would like to see more of in the organization. The Impactpool Search Team supports the donor to build a roster of 20 senior nationals with relevant education, background, and experience. The organization is given access to te roster and and can easily search and contact the individuals when a job appears.

2. Does the Action Plan include an allocated budget?

Too many of the Action Plans that I have seen don't include any type of budget, only targets. Very few improvements in life happen without any type of investment. And most times in life you get what you pay for.

Recently, I had an Action Plan presented to me with the below targets. It had no budget associated with it, but at least I was asked to calculate the cost to reach the targets.

  1. Increase the number of Country X applications to executive-level vacancies

  2. Increase the number of Country X applications to non-executive level vacancies

  3. Increase the absolute number of Country X officials

This was a three years Action Plan and when looking at the three years budget, the costs for the action needed to fulfill the three goals landed at around €120'000. A quite small investment for donors.

3. How would you mitigate if the initiative-takers of the Action Plan leave during the implementation?

Staff mobility and rotations are intense both at the donor's and the organization's side, and hence the Action Plan initiative-takers are rarely involved in the project until its end.

When the key stakeholders disappear, it is a high risk that the Action Plan execution suffers and that the reporting/monitoring/follow-up is down-prioritized or even neglected.

Among the better ways I have seen to mitigate the risk of people leaving is to agree to use an executing partner. Use a third party, specialized in international candidate sourcing, and let them handle an activity list and report back.

Sign them for the whole contract period and make them the engine of the Action Plan activities.

By doing so, you are no longer dependent on individuals at the donor and at the organization to execute and deliver on the Action Plan.

Do you need an executing partner for your Action Plan?

Impactpool has profound experience in delivering Action Plans. We have templates for the actual Action Plan and we can help you with the whole execution. If this sounds interesting, don't hesitate to reach out. fill out the contact form below and an Impactpool representative will reach out to you.