I enjoy basketball. While some individual players stand out, it’s the performance of the team that decides the game: working together, anticipating each other’s moves, and sharing the spotlight. Sure it takes practice, but it takes more than practice.
It takes trust.
On a team, trust means…
- You hold one another accountable without assigning blame
- You willingly give and receive extra efforts without keeping track
- Knowing that the team has your back, you take risks without guilt
- You communicate openly and directly with your teammates without fear
…and you do it all for your mission…for your cause.
Being on a team requires us to extend beyond ourselves. In our recent workshop on Mindfulness in the Workplace, Eric Nelson provided a compelling research- and case-based argument for mindfulness practice. The benefits were so varied and plentiful, I finally asked, “What’s the downside?” Without hesitation, he responded, “It challenges your identity.”
Mindfulness practice makes us face our assumptions and how they often differ from others’ assumptions. It chips away at our ego and helps us recognize how much we need each other to achieve better understanding as well as better performance. By letting go of our need to be right, we free ourselves to be correct. We free ourselves to trust.
I’ve written before on ways to build trust. Yet, these efforts falter when individuals stay wedded to their own assumptions and agendas. The more we understand ourselves and let go of our own egos, the more we open ourselves to trust our teammates. And that’s a step we must take on our own.
The ball is in your court.
I expect that every organization and business strives to be hospitable. We want staff, clients, visitors, supporters, and vendors to feel welcomed and comfortable in our place and at our events. Yet, even with best of intentions, we may run into times when we’re stumped.
What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
Some situations may throw us for a loop. Many of us have faltered around language issues, physical challenges, cognitive disabilities, cultural misunderstandings and more.
We can take steps to prepare ourselves and our organizations to be hospitable in these situations: glean your staff’s wisdom by initiating the discussion; identify gaps in understanding and then research and share information at staff meetings; and take advantage of workshops offered by area agencies.
This week, ONEplace welcomes Allison Hammond (Arcadia Institute) to explore Supporting People with Disabilities in your Organization. Allison will help us discover how we can successfully include people with disabilities as participants, volunteers and employees. Plus she will highlight resources to assess and support our ongoing efforts.
Most of us desire an open and welcoming community. It starts with each of us creating that environment right where we are.
According to Building the Governance Partnership, “Board members often don’t know what they don’t know.” As the seat of authority in most nonprofits, it’s critical that board members clearly understand what’s expected of them and how to fulfill those expectations.
At ONEplace, our goal is to make sure we’re focusing our limited time and energy on areas of highest impact. Since embarking on basic board training, we’re finding this to be one of those high impact areas.
Initially, we simply responded to what was requested. This usually included a basic overview of board responsibilities with a little extra time spent on one or two items (e.g., fundraising or being a good ambassador). Having now met with over 30 organizations and conducted 16 onsite training events, we’ve developed a broader-based approach.
Every quarter we offer Board Membership 101. This late afternoon workshop provides board members and prospective board members with an overview of board responsibilities. It also serves as an encouragement to nonprofits to supplement this experience with their own, more specific, training and orientation.
Onsite training events (commonly at a board meeting) tailor the content to the needs of the specific board. These events are also much more participative. Providing your board with a common training experience greatly increases retention and application as reminders pop up at almost every subsequent meeting.
The program rounds out with two additional services. First, we continue to provide a place where board and staff may discuss new concerns and challenges and gather helpful resources. And second, we provide facilitation services to help boards discuss difficult or sensitive issues.
For more information, please contact us: email@example.com or 269-553-7910.
Last month, we hosted a Chronicle of Philanthropy video titled, Building Long-term Ties with Young Donors. It discussed data from the Millennial Alumni Report and how it related to nurturing the loyalty of young donors. The video noted the strong philanthropic tendency of Millennials in volunteering (86% would volunteer) as well as donating (75% donate).
Enjoyable experiences with the organization, an opportunity to give back, and the ability to designate donations to a specific program motivate Millennial philanthropy. Millennials also want to see results.
Social media (especially Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) is tops in providing Millennials with stories, behind the scenes info, and successes. To maximize reach, the presenters suggest creating an Online Ambassador Program. The program engages volunteers in generating Shares and Retweets, and it’s considered a “must” for any online campaign.
Email continues to be the primary communication channel for calls to action and appeals. Emails should be very short with bold highlights and a soft ask (e.g., donate button).
The bottom line for Millennials (as for older donors) is to ask. Many reported that they didn’t give simply because they hadn’t been asked.
Are you staying on track? Perhaps you’re getting on track. You may even be off track, sidetracked, or more akin to General Halftrack. In any event, it’s good to know where you are and where you are headed.
What’s dodgy about our work is that it often moves in cycles. As one friend of mine will say, “I’m doing what I always do in December.” Just as we cycle in and out of seasons and improve the appointed tasks with each go around, we also can revisit basic management skills and improve them.
This is why ONEplace offers Management Track workshops. These events address skills and processes fundamental to nonprofit management. They also provide opportunities to develop, hone, and refine our skills and offer teams opportunities to learn skills together (which improves application and retention).
Upcoming Management Track workshops include:
Decision Making (12/4) – a decision making process for individuals and teams that focuses on good data and clearly documents process and results
Design, Funding & Constructing Facilities that Fit (1/15) – if you are considering a renovation or building project, this will help you navigate the details
Project Management (1/22) – a time-tested approach to projects that facilitates focused definition, detailed planning, and well-managed implementation
Emergency Action Planning (2/25) – emergencies will happen and this workshop ensures that you know how to plan, prepare, and care for the unexpected
Good leaders continually learn new things as well as refine and deepen that which is already known. They travel a track that doesn’t go in circles; rather, it spirals to ever-deeper understanding.
Most of us wouldn't call the holiday season relaxing, especially
for nonprofits with year-end campaigns to run. One way I divert some of the
anxiety that goes along with hectic year-end events is by setting a small, yet
achievable goal with a December 31 deadline. There is something distinctly
satisfying about bringing in the New Year on the heels of a personal
accomplishment. Below are five steps that have helped me set and accomplish my
1. When setting your goal, avoid your Achilles
Heel -- for now. Choose something less intimidating that will also have a
noticeable impact. For example, you might want to limit the time you spend
replying to emails.
2.Select the issue that you can easily measure.
Goals related to thoughts and emotions are tougher; i.e. "I will not
respond rudely to the client who always calls me screaming," is more
difficult to measure than something like "I will thank every client for calling."
3. Say what you will do. It may seem
trite, but words have power. When you mentally tell yourself not to do
something--"I will not let my paperwork pile up"-- it implicitly adds
pressure and negativity to the task at hand. Your goal should be an
action you will take.
4. Ensure accountability. I don't think
setting any goal is the difficult part, but rather, remembering the goal and
sticking to it. My favorite method of accountability is other people. I tell a
couple of close friends about my goal, and when they ask me about it, I can
either share the good news, or thank them for the reminder.
5. Adjust, adjust, adjust. You can't know
how realistic your goal is until you actually try to accomplish it. If eating
lunch away from your desk every day isn't possible, adjust your goal to one
day. Then, go back to step 4 and secure lunch plans with a colleague every
What has been your experience with goal-setting? What's your
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Dov Seidman observes that we’re moving into a human economy. Having once been an agrarian economy and then an industrial economy, followed by an information economy, we now are transitioning into a human economy where successful employees leverage their creativity, passion, character, and collaborative spirit.
Seidman quotes Peter Drucker (Effective Executive, 1967) in support for committing to values and connecting with purpose in the workplace. He describes Drucker as being ahead of his time. I think he was simply more attuned to his people than the flavor of his time.
Successful leaders throughout the 20th century valued the human element. Look at Jim Collins’ list of top CEO’s and you’ll find several who built long-lasting organizations that valued their people more than their profit.
What they recognized is that – be it agrarian, industrial, information or human – each was an economy, i.e., “a system of interaction and exchange.” Regardless of what commodity is being traded, it’s people that perform the interactions and exchanges. It’s people that make any economy tick.
Seidman also points out that the systems are changing. Business and organizational policies and practices are valuing the human element more, and business schools are also attending more to developing so-called “soft skills.”
More and more, institutions are recognizing what many business writers keep claiming: it’s all about relationships. It’s true now, and it has been true for decades. Perhaps mainstream leadership thought is catching up with this.
One of the joys of working at ONEplace is the opportunity to meet and talk with a variety of people: from long-term nonprofit leaders to those incubating start-ups; from seasoned board members to neighborhood advisory councils; from funders sitting on millions of dollars to social entrepreneurs sitting on a single idea. From all these discussions and more, I’ve realized one undeniable fact:
Each person brings a critically important contribution to the discussion.
This is not about asking “Who’s not at the table?” or making sure the discussion includes “representative voices.” This is about recognizing that every discussion is ill-informed because voices will always be missing. It’s also about making the effort to go beyond representative voices and seek out, invite, and create an environment safe enough for each critically important perspective to be raised.
We’re doing this on a few fronts, at ONEplace and in community centers. It takes time – sometimes years – to get acquainted and develop readiness, and then more time to build trust. But, as they say, “In five years it will be 2019 either way, so we might as well start.”
Posing open, honest questions that draw out the diversity of perspectives brings new light to the matter at hand. Just as light from one angle illuminates only part of a structure and casts shadows on other parts, light from many angles removes the shadows and illuminates the whole.
And, when I catch a glimpse of the whole, I realize the specious nature of the phase, “people in need.”
Rather, I desire to participate in the diverse circle which hosts people we need. In this circle, there is no teacher or student, no grantor or grantee, no provider or client. In this circle, each person claims, “There are eyes that see things I don’t see, ears that hear sounds I don’t hear, and hearts that bear burdens I don’t bear.”
Until every light shines, unencumbered, we’re all left in the dark.
When we think of organizational values, words like honesty, integrity, and service generally surface. Generosity is not commonly listed, unless it's United Way campaign time.
Yet, in the book, Change Anything, the authors give a nod to generosity when they discuss getting one’s career on track. Identifying what separates the best from the rest, they list three things: know your stuff, focus on the right stuff, and build a reputation for being helpful.
They look to "Individuals who are singled out by their colleagues as the go-to folks in the company" and say that "people describe them as experts who are generous with their time."
We also know them by other descriptions: team players, mission-focused, and helpful. "Theirs is not primarily a self-serving motivation. Top people are widely known...because they help others solve their problems."
Of course, one pitfall here is trying to use generosity as a means of getting ahead. At the heart of it, generosity is about placing your focus outside self, outside organization, and on to the greater purpose, the greater cause. It may seem counterintuitive, but the more we focus on the greater goal beyond our organization, the better it is for our organization and career.
Another pitfall is helping so much that one’s own work doesn't get done. Certainly, boundaries must be observed. Remember, the second point above was "focus on the right stuff."
So, next time you hear someone say, "Got a minute?" hear it as an opportunity to connect with a colleague, further your mission, and contribute to a generous workplace culture.
At ONEplace, we define leadership as taking full ownership of one’s roles and responsibilities. This includes taking the initiative to:
- Learn what you need to know
- Building relationships necessary to be effective
- Listening & learning from others as well as freely sharing with & teaching others what you know
Effective leadership in any position demands building and nurturing strong collaborative connections. These relationships not only increase one’s capacity to do an excellent job, but they tend to make work much more enjoyable.
Also, one of the quickest and easiest ways to increase your organization’s capacity is through building relationships. Most of us know from experience that working collaboratively with others creates synergy – a dynamic in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This works with teams within an organization as well as collaborations between organizations.
As you may have guessed, encouraging strong collaborative relationships within the nonprofit sector is one of our top strategies at ONEplace. We deliberately present workshops and other events to encourage, promote and opportunify strong collaborative connections, such as: solving problems together (Nov 4), nurturing young donors (Nov 5), connecting with nonprofit colleagues (Nov 18), or building a stronger board (Nov 20).
Make building strong collaborative connections part of your personal strategy. It will raise your awareness, and you’ll find that every day presents relationship-building opportunities.