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Building collaborative connections

We’re all working together, that’s the secret. Sam Walton

Collaboration is about being who you are and speaking what you see. Lynn Serafinn

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. Henry Ford

[add your own synergy-laden quote]

For the past three years, one of our key strategies has been to encourage strong, collaborative connections. As one executive director is fond of telling me, “If you want to increase your organization’s capacity, collaborate.” 

Collaboration and cooperation is something we encourage, but it’s also something we practice.

In the past, ONEplace has cooperated with the Arts Council, Volunteer Kalamazoo, the Cultural Data Project, Kalamazoo Bar Association, and others to bring workshops and service opportunities to the nonprofit sector. Looking ahead, upcoming collaborative efforts at ONEplace include:

By working together we can move the needle on some of the most entrenched issues facing our community. I know many of your organizations are doing this. Please use the Comment tool and let us know how you’re building strong, collaborative connections.


Just ONEthing - June 2015

Earlier this month, John Greenhoe (WMU Major Gift Officer) presented Opening the Door to Major Gifts (also the title of his best-selling book). During the session we examined the process of making Discovery Calls as well as solutions to common mistakes.

A Discovery Call (also known as an Identification Call or Qualification Call) is a face-to-face visit with a prospect that you believe may have the capacity for making a major gift. While rarely done, tracking Discovery Calls keeps you apprised of how many people you’re putting into this pipeline and the percentage of those who eventually make a major gift.

Often, nonprofits don’t support making Discovery Calls because they don’t involve making an ask. Yet, John recommends developing an organizational culture that supports making Discovery Calls. These visits open the door to deeper relationships, greater trust, and larger gifts. 

John also reminded us that fundraising is still a young industry and much of it is “largely a business of figuring it out on your own." So to get started, he suggests: (1) Plan time each day for making phone calls to schedule the initial visit; (2) When you get the visit, be yourself – tell your story and show your enthusiasm; and (3) Celebrate small victories because it is difficult, and you’ll hear “no” more than you hear “yes.”

During the program, John also recommended Gail Perry as a resource especially for smaller nonprofits. Find out more on major gifts on Gail’s website.


Coffee with Jan Barker

This month we spoke with Jan Barker, CEO at Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan and discovered how Girl Scouts has influenced her at various stages of her life.

Tell us how you got to where you are today

I traveled to Michigan from my native Florida and developed a real appreciation for the changing seasons, so I decided to make Michigan my new home. After working for Michigan State University Extension Services for 15 years, I accepted the Chief Executive Officer job with Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan. I am committed to helping girls gain leadership skills so they can make the world a better place.

What do you most love about the Kalamazoo community? 

The area is beautiful with interesting topography and clean lakes. As a student of botany, I am intrigued with the flora and fauna native to Michigan. I also love the culture and having access to big city amenities without the big city hassles like traffic congestion. The people in Southwestern Michigan are generous and caring which is how it earned its reputation as a can-do and caring community that I am proud to be a part of.

What guides or principles do you rely most upon?

Learn as much as you can, share it for the good of all, try to find the positive in everything, and have fun while you’re doing it.

Who was one of your mentors and what do you carry with you from that relationship?

My father taught me to be curious and patient. Because of his interest in how things work I am always taking a deeper dive to get a better understanding of how things are built and how they run.

My father quietly set the example that a person can do anything if they work hard. My mother was my Girl Scout leader and she taught me that girls can do anything. She created an environment focused on having fun while learning new things. This gave me a passion for life and learning.

The people I work with everyday teach me so much. They have great ideas for helping girls grow and learn skills that will prepare them to be leaders in all areas of their lives. I admire their selflessness and think they are some of the most dedicated and committed people I know.

What has been one of your biggest learning moments?

I was a very shy child which made reaching out to others and joining in activities a struggle. My time in Girl Scouts taught me skills which gave me the confidence to be courageous and get involved. I carry those lessons with me to this day.

What’s an average day like for you at work?

I travel between 5 offices throughout mid-Michigan: Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti, Lansing, Jackson and Saginaw. Our staffing model is very customer-focused so I spend time in the communities we serve meeting people, and sharing news about the bold impact Girl Scouting has on both girls and volunteers.

What are the types of challenges/opportunities that keep you up at night?

Ways to improve, projects needing more attention and are my children safe and happy?

How do you stay up-to-date on latest trends in your field?

I read and read and read.

What advice do you have for those wishing to have a long lasting career in the nonprofit sector?

Stay focused on making the world better and don’t worry about the money. You don’t go into nonprofit work to become a millionaire. You do it because you want to make someone else’s life better. You will make many contributions by persevering and maintaining your focus. As a young, single mother of two when I was starting a career in the nonprofit sector, I was challenged every day to find a healthy balance between my family and work responsibilities. I found that adding an element of fun and accumulating experiences has made each of my jobs easier.

What would you most like to do?

  • To stay vibrant and energized spend time outdoors
  • Visit The American Camellia Society Garden at Masse Lane near Warner-Robins, GA. Make sure to see the Japanese Garden.
  • See the magic at Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami, FL
  • Read something by Julia Child or Graham Greene in a hammock
  • There is great value in traveling and refreshing your perspective with time-off on an adventure.
  • Count on great ideas and fresh brilliance to come. 
  • Be curious, get curious, spread curiosity.
  • I encourage my staff to live out loud, and to bring their very best to work and family every day.

What hobbies or outside interests do you enjoy?

I love to cook. I have cookbooks containing recipes from all over the world which help me to develop an appreciation for other cultures. I use these recipes to make food to share with family and friends. Cooking, science and botany have helped me learn about the world.

Anything else?

Being a mother to a daughter and son who have become amazing adults keeps me centered and grounded. My kids and my husband form the nucleus of a family that supports and cares for me. They challenge me every day to be bold and take chances.


What am I doing?

There are things we do every day. Certain actions and behaviors form the habits that seem to run on autopilot – without thought. It’s for these actions and behaviors that ONEplace created the Lunch & Learn Series, where we

Spend one hour focused on something we rarely think about.

Each session explores a habit, beginning with a short presentation on the topic followed by a facilitated discussion among your colleagues. You get to share information, test ideas, and connect with others in the nonprofit sector. 

Mostly, however, you spend about an hour becoming more self-aware.

We opened the Lunch & Learn Series last week with a look at Giving & Receiving Feedback. This week (Wed, May 27), we examine how we’re Managing Expectations. Next month (Tues, June 23) we’ll explore Effective Board Meetings.

We limit the discussions to 12 so all have a chance to participate. Consider coming to a Lunch & Learn, or at least consider spending some focused time discovering and testing your habits.

It’ll be time well spent.

Best,

Thom


KHRMA Day of Service

The Kalamazoo Human Resource Management Association (KHRMA) in association with ONEplace will be offering assistance to area nonprofits in July for Human Resource related questions.

Members of KHRMA have offered to volunteer a few hours of their time in July to assist with Human Resource projects or issues that they may have. Last year's inaugural program saw KHRMA members helping with everything from areas of a strategic plan to handbooks to onboarding practices.

If you are with a nonprofit in the Kalamazoo area and are interested in receiving assistance, please email Ben Cohen, the KHRMA Community Relations Chair, with your name, organization, and a description of your requested assistance. Ben will assign a KHRMA volunteer to assist you, and they will reach out to you directly to schedule a time to help.

Ben's contact information is bcohen@rosestreetadvisors.com or (269) 552-3248 (office). If you're unsure about anything, please also feel free to reach out to Ben.

Please have all requests in by Friday, June 12, 2015. Thank you!


Resolve That Workplace Conflict (Yes, You!)

I am finally coming to understand that conflict at work is unavoidable. Even though I am extremely conflict-averse, sometimes misunderstandings just happen. My experiences have been fairly run-of-mill; I’ve had collaborators surprise me with an offhand comment, and even had clients become hostile for no apparent reason. Most times workplace conflict ends up with all parties walking away hurt and upset.

 "Charging Bull" by "Prayitnophotography" is licensed under CC by 2.0
I'm willing to bet that "hurt and upset" rank among the least productive emotions for working towards reconciliation. Often it feels easier to complain about the situation with friends and hope you can avoid the other person around the office. But I want to challenge that. What if we empower ourselves to believe that resolving the issue is as much your responsibility as it is the other person's? Here's why: your personal comfort at work depends on your ability to communicate. This is true of everything else -- getting the right desk chair, getting help on a difficult project -- so why should interpersonal issues be any different?

Moving towards reconciliation often feels impossible if the incident was highly emotional. So how do you move past that? Thom mentioned a concept other day that stuck with me: sit across the table from yourself. Multiple studies show that we all have blind spots when it comes to our behavior. So, "sit across" from yourself and trade your first-person perspective with a third-person narrative. Write down what happened as if you were not at all involved, and then read the story.  Trying out this exercise could put you in the proper headspace to broach reconciliation. Or maybe it could be a tool you use to decide if you want to involve a mediator.

No matter what happens, I've come to see that you cannot control anyone else. So, if you approach the idea of a resolution with an open mind, your work environment will be so much the better for it.


Between reality and illusion

I’m puzzled. As a fan of management and leadership, I like to think that plans and strategies matter. After studying trends and doing analysis, it seems we should have a good read on things and be able to set a course of action that will lead to success. This however is what Daniel Kahneman calls, “the illusion of understanding.”

In his recent book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, he returns time and again to remind us that having a grasp of things is more a security blanket than a reality. Illusions of understanding are comforting and reduce the anxiety surrounding uncertainty. They also feed our need for order and fairness. But they’re not reality. 

Kahneman says, “We all have a need for the reassuring message that actions have appropriate consequences, and that success will reward wisdom and courage. Many business books are tailor-made to satisfy this need.”

He goes on to say that for all our efforts, the data shows that we only do a little better (or sometimes a little worse) than chance.

So, at times, just when I think, “I got it,” I also realize that I don’t “got it.”

Perhaps it’s best to keep one eye on the long-term goal – that point on the horizon – while managing the current situation as it presents itself…without trying to figure it out, or “get it.” I don’t know. I’m still working on this.

Your thoughts?

Best,

Thom


Where work happens

You’re reading this right now. I’m glad. Part of my work is to study, reflect upon our work, find connections and insights, and then share them with you. It’s fun for me. But I’ll let you in on a little secret:

I’m writing at home.

That’s right. What you’re reading now was written over a couple of early mornings in my family room at home. That’s when I write. Why? I find the early morning a time of clarity and creativity. Plus it’s completely uninterrupted time.

Where do you find uninterrupted time?

In 2010, Jason Fried did a TED talk on Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work. For ten years, he posed a question to business people (both nonprofit and for-profit): Where do you go when you really need to get something done? Answers included “the porch, the deck, the kitchen…the basement, the coffee shop, the library,” or “Well, it doesn’t really matter where I am, as long as it’s really early in the morning or really late at night or on the weekends.”

You almost never hear, “the office.”

(Of course, there are jobs where the work can only be done in the office. Those notwithstanding, it plays on the perception of where we can “get something done.”)

In an attempt to reclaim quality work time at the office, Jason suggests No Talk Thursdays, emailing rather than stopping by another’s office, and eliminating unneeded meetings.

For me, it’s a matter of knowing how I best work and scheduling my week accordingly. Writing in the early morning is fun for me – I like to do it. I also need uninterrupted blocks of time at work, so we schedule those into our workweek. If your calendar is not fully in your control, ask for the time you need or at least understand and explain the time cost of an assigned project or task.

What else would you suggest? How do you manage your time?

Best,

Thom


Lunch & Learn at ONEplace

At our workshops and peer learning groups, I enjoy watching participants share ideas, insights, and resources. When the room buzzes with energized voices from people perched on the edge of their seats, it’s fun. And I learn a lot.

This is my vision for our new Lunch & Learn events coming in May. Our Lunch & Learns start at 12:05 and end at 12:55 pm. The session opens with a brief presentation of the topic followed by a facilitated discussion. The goal is to not just share our knowledge but to go deeper into the subject. My hope is that each person leaves with a greater understanding and feeling challenged to take the next step related to the day’s concern.

This month, our Lunch & Learns focus on people topics. On May 21, we’ll explore Giving & Getting Feedback, and on May 27, we’ll tackle Managing Expectations.

Each Lunch & Learn is limited to 12 participants so that everyone can fully engage the discussion. Also, it’s BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag-lunch). We’ll provide our usual water station.


Just ONEthing - May 2015

Last week, Kevin Brozovich, Founder and Chief People Officer at HRM Innovations, led a Management Track workshop on HR Essentials. During the session, we spent a chunk of time on the hiring process – especially the interview.

A surprising number of interviewers take an unstructured approach to the interview. These commonly begin with light conversation and eventually get into some more formal questions. Kevin noted that, when using this unstructured approach, the interviewer often decides on a candidate within the first few minutes of the interview – the more personal connections with the candidate, the more favorable the impression.

The unstructured approach raises significant concerns. The selection may be based more upon personal affinity rather than qualifications for the job. Plus, it may undermine efforts to build a diverse workforce as we gravitate toward people like us. Even greater concern arises if only one person conducts the interview.

A structured interview (same questions in the same order) offers a more uniform approach to the process, and studies show a much higher validity with a structured interview (0.51 vs. 0.14 with unstructured). Also, conducting an interview with a panel of interviewers improves the quality of the process even more.

For more on HR, read Kevin’s blog.