Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jobseekers: Quit Looking to Nonprofits to Nurture Your Soul

I'm compelled to confront. I'm hearing a lot of people talking about wanting to transition into the nonprofit sector because they've had it with their soul-sucking for-profit employer. They want to feel better about what they do and while I don't begrudge anyone satisfaction with how they spend their working hours, I do ask people to start reframing their thinking.

There are as many nuances among the cultures of nonprofit organizations as there are among those within the for-profit sector. It becomes dangerous to lump them together, expect that they all feed the soul when in fact there are many, many mission-driven or purpose-led companies within the for-profit sector that feed the heart as much as the head.

Answering the question of fit is as much looking inside one's own expectations, desires and intentions as it is examining the culture of the potential organizations. The nonprofit sector can be immensely rewarding, it can also be as intensely crushing as for-profit environments -- with similar and with very different reasons.

My suggestion regarding fit is to start with the qualities you seek, what you wish for your legacy and ask focused questions of potential employers to discern what might work best for you. Research online, request informational interviews with people publicly identified as a stakeholder with the organization, and be true to your own intentions. Good luck!
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Monday, November 09, 2009

Help People Become Engaged by Engaging Them

People often wonder how to help staff become more engaged in their jobs ... I suggest reframing the proposition. Less about how to help them become more engaged and more about creating the means to engage employees in conversations about how their positions connect to the purpose of the organization and the organization's intentions in providing service to its customers. Ask them what it means to be engaged (or passionate) and then listen to what they have to say, implementing the ideas that work within the corporate culture. Perhaps asking them to identify challenging moments they've faced or could face and framing a group problem-solving session for how it could be resolved, redirected, etc. Map out ways that victories at their level link to the bottom-line and help the company achieve its financial targets or the organization advance its intended impact. A key consideration is celebrating moments that reflect what you want to see because positive reinforcement and celebratory recognition are crucial.
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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Social Media & 24/7 Employees

Employers are expressing frustration about lost productivity in the era of social media, and research bears it out. Yet, there is an opportunity to refocus that frustration by engaging employees and aligning their actions with the purpose and intentions of the employer. When people are engaged in and about their work, the social networking sites become an outlet/distribution vehicle to extend the brand and the sales reach. If employers subscribe to the concept that employees represent them 24/7, social networking becomes a more interesting (less frustrating proposition) ... provided everyone is clear on the intention, the core message and the authentic actions they can/are taking.

Thanks to Frank Horvath for sparking this post.
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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Critical Role of the Board Chair (and more)

Alice Korngold in her Fast Company blog posting offers an excellent outline for how an effective Board chair carries forward her/his duties. Creating that culture of expectation and execution is critical for ensuring that the Board of Directors is helpful to the nonprofit, rather than a hindrance.

I would suggest that her list offers solid guidance for anyone considering any position on a Board. It also offers an opportunity for one of my favorite questions of nominating committees ... if you wouldn't hire that individual to provide leadership within your company, what makes them an excellent candidate for serving on the Board of this nonprofit?
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