Archives For Nonprofit

“The American workforce has more than 100 million full-time employees. One-third of those employees are what Gallup calls engaged at work. They love their jobs and make their organization and America better every day. At the other end, 16% of employees are actively disengaged—they are miserable in the workplace and destroy what the most engaged employees build. The remaining 51% of employees are not engaged—they’re just there.

“These figures indicate an American leadership philosophy that simply doesn’t work anymore.” (Clifton)

“After two decades of working with CEOs and their teams of senior executives, I’ve become absolutely convinced that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre or unsuccessful ones has little, if anything, to do with what they know or how smart they are; it has everything to do with how healthy they are.” (Lencioni)

“The most important decisions that executives make are people decisions.” (Drucker)

We have an organizational health problem in this country that is undermining the effectiveness of our organizations in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. The implications are far reaching in that it affects the overall health of this country economically, it affects the communities where organizations operate, and it affects the health of individual employees and their families.

The cause of the problem, and the solution, rests with those leading those organizations at the C-Suite and Board levels.

Many leaders of organizations have come through the business education system and are well schooled in the “hard science” aspects of running organizations. They know how to produce and read financial reports, develop strategic plans, manage supply chains, produce sales forecasts, ensure they are complying with human resources regulations, and all the other aspects of running an organization that are so important.

As important as good systems and processes are to a well-run organization, we have to embrace the fact that the health of the people in our organizations is more important than our strategies and systems. I once worked for an incredibly successful businessman who made the statement that there was no need for customer satisfaction surveys – what was needed was employee satisfaction surveys. His position was that if you have satisfied employees, you have satisfied customers. Put another way – if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.

Leaders have to learn to think differently about the people of their organizations realizing they are individuals with fears and hopes. It is up to us to take a deep look at our organizational culture and to start making the needed changes. Often it starts with looking in the mirror. It is up to us to first change our mindset.

It’s not really that complicated, but it is hard work. It begins with truly caring about the people in your organization. Do you see them as obstacles, means to an end, or as persons? Start with how you view others and go from there.

In summary is a quote attributed to Peter Drucker—“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

BG Allen
Executive Coach
Coachwell Inc.

Sources:
Clifton, Jim “State of the American Workplace Report” (p. 2). Gallup (2017)
Lencioni, Patrick M. The Advantage, Enhanced Edition: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business (pp. 8-9). Jossey-Bass. Kindle Edition
Peter Drucker, http://creativefollowership.com/the-most-important-decisions/

“Collaboration: being fully assertive and fully cooperative – at the same time” – Ambassador Enterprises, LLC

One thing I learned at AE was the value of collaboration and that it was often fiery and unpleasant; full of conflict with strong and intelligent people going at it over an idea. But the beautiful thing was that they weren’t trying to win an argument – they were trying to find the best solution for the problem at hand. It had nothing to do with their relationships / friendships – it was about doing their very best – as a team – to arrive at the best solution.

Following is part of an article from Harvard Business Review on how managers mistake cooperativeness for collaboration:

Having worked with hundreds of managers over the years, I’ve seen that very few admit to being poor collaborators, mostly because they mistake their cooperativeness for being collaborative. And indeed, most managers are cooperative, friendly, and willing to share information — but what they lack is the ability and flexibility to align their goals and resources with others in real time. Sometimes this starts at the top of the organization when senior leaders don’t fully synchronize their strategies and performance measures with each other. More often, however, the collaboration challenge resides with department heads, product leaders, and major initiative managers who need to get everyone on the same page – and shouldn’t wait for senior executives to force the issue for them.

Collaboration is hard work, but necessary if you want your organization to rise above being mediocre.

BG

adam-braun-profile_727_447_c1Good morning,

Sunday, I finished an excellent book by Adam Braun entitled The Promise of a Pencil. Other than a few places where he uses some less than best language, the book is excellent. He has several quotes through the book I want to highlight for you. They are not new – many are rooted in Scripture and you have read other versions of them in other places. But they sound fresh from this young man who is changing the lives of so many.

1. “. . . I would find far more fulfillment if I measured my life in purpose, not profits.”

2. “The biggest difference between the person who lives his or her dreams and the person who aspires is the decision to convert that first spark of motivation into immediate action.”

3. “The purest joys are available to all of us, and they are unrelated to status, recognition, or material desires.”

4. Listening intensely is far more valuable than speaking immensely.”

5. “I could never make assumptions about how others perceive me.”

6. “Most ventures fail in the early stages because people stop trying after they’re told no too many times.”

7. “Our cultures glorifies founders and CEOs far too often, when in fact the early adopters and evangelists are actually the ones who make a company’s success.”

8. “. . .we recreate our reputation every day.”

9. “We exist because of the sacrifices of those who came before us . . . ”

10. “Become your dreams.”

11. “Those I met defined themselves by what was on their mind, not on their business card.”

12. “How many times have I missed an incredible connection that could have been made because I had my face in my phone instead of paying attention to those around me?”

13. “I understood that I might fail, but I wouldn’t let it happen because I changed my compass along the way.”

14. “You need to know the character of the people at your side. Trust is everything.”

15. “Creating something new is easy, creating something that lasts is the challenge.”

One of the things I enjoyed about this book is Adam Braun comes across as a learner. He is constantly talking about how he benefitted from the advice of others. He was candid about his mistakes. Equally impressive is that he is a young man making a huge difference not only because of his passion and hard work, but also because he seeks and listens to good advice. Something some of us older folks have yet to learn.

His story is compelling and the book is worth a read.

BG

 

 

Good morning!

One of the challenges with the term nonprofit (a legal tax designation) is that it communicates many things incorrectly and creates a certain stigma both within and without the organization. First of all “nonprofits” actually need to make a profit or they cease to exist, just like for-profits except it is usually a longer and more painful death.

Secondly, thinking like a “nonprofit”, especially ministry-based nonprofits, causes them to devalue good business practices as if they were somehow morally wrong. The result is that the “business” side is not done well which causes the ministry / service side to eventually implode.

Now, there is a new, and better, way in my opinion, of looking at “for-purpose” organizations. Following is a lead statement from an article on Forbes entitled, A New Nonprofit Model: Meet The Charitable Startups

Startup companies are traditionally for-profit enterprises, but in recent years philanthropic ventures have begun adopting the technological know-how and scrappy mentality of startups to develop a new breed of lean nonprofits.

Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise who “refers to Pencils of Promise as a for-purpose organization rather than nonprofit, insists they remain focused on a bottom line – but instead of gross profit, its gross efficacy.” Braun believes that nonprofits can learn from big business.

Braun said. “Across both startups and the not-for-profit sector, people are driven by intense passion around purpose and mission – they’re there because they believe the company is doing something that wasn’t there before.”

“Entrepreneurs have a ludicrously large vision to change the world but have the humility to be solving very clear painpoints,” agreed Ted Gonder, founder of Moneythink, a nonprofit which teaches financial literacy to inner city students. “All these things are also true of nonprofits.”

So, if you lead a nonprofit maybe it is time to step back and change the way you think about how you operate. Is it time to start learning from startup businesses, learning from big business, and maybe partnering with for-profit organizations in more ways than simply asking for donations?

Maybe it’s time for a new way? Maybe “for purpose” organizations?

One last quote from the article that I think is worth all of us keeping in mind:

“Startups test new innovations and are always evolving – I think that that’s really, really important for any organization.”

Have a great week – I know our team has an exciting week ahead of us!

BG