By Daniel Kamins, Director of Employee Engagement and Volunteerism at MetLife
Project Lean is part of MetLife’s ongoing commitment to providing pro bono services to organizations around the world. In addition to this program, MetLife also hosts single-day service events that leverage the professional skills of our employees on behalf of a nonprofit partner.
MetLife Foundation and Taproot Foundation are driving change, bringing lean management principles to the social sector. By leveraging the skills of employees to benefit nonprofit partners, we create a classic “win-win” situation–our nonprofit partners gain from skills and expertise they would not be able to access on their own, and our employees are given the opportunity to apply their professional skills in a unique, inspiring setting. In partnership with Taproot, we were able to create a customized program for The MetLife Way lean management team, enabling them to leverage their lean management knowledge to benefit a deserving nonprofit organization.
Our process was time-intensive, but it allowed us to take a closer look at many worthy nonprofit organizations who applied for the opportunity to work with The MetLife Way team. After receiving all of the applications, Taproot and MetLife evaluated each of them against a rubric to select four finalists. These organizations met by phone with representatives from Taproot, MetLife Foundation and The MetLife Way team to further discuss their proposal and vision for a successful partnership. This stage was critical, as it was the only time that The MetLife Way team was able to ask specific questions related to their skillset and evaluate the fit of each project. Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK) was ultimately selected as our partner on a project to help redesign their “Bakers in Training” admissions process, with the goal of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of candidate selection.
Over the course of the three-month engagement, The MetLife Way team was able to offer HBK their perspective, grounded in lean principles. They started by breaking down the recruitment process into steps to look for specific improvement areas. The team then examined five years of data to determine what was and was not working for HBK and applicants, which helped them develop a candidate profile of attributes that successful members of the Bakers in Training program possess. Once the profile was finalized, the team built a measurement tool and revamped the interview process to help make the process scalable. This included creating a way for HBK employees to leverage insights from colleagues throughout the training and placement process to refine the profile of a successful candidate.
The engagement’s positive results can be attributed to the development of a disciplined, consistent process of vetting potential nonprofit partners with The MetLife Way team:
- Giving specific instructions on the application enabled better self-selection. The required detail allowed nonprofits to determine potential fit before spending time on applying.
- Having a rubric ensures consistency. In this case, a simple Likert scale allowed us to evaluate the requested project, the potential fit and the nonprofit organization itself.
- Once a match with a nonprofit is made, there should be regular check-ins on progress toward the project goal. Too much time between status updates could allow the project to go down an irreversible path.
- Relying on partners (such as Taproot) for their expertise sets you up for success. From start to finish, the Taproot team provided insight, led meetings and regularly assessed progress to ensure that we were able to meet our project goal.
- Laying out clear expectations of time commitments for all parties involved ensures that work is done at a reasonable pace. This enables progress to be made while not taking away from other commitments.
We’re continuing to refine the process, and we look forward to having the opportunity to work with The MetLife Way team again in the near future on a pro bono initiative.