All posts by ECofOC.org

Performance Reviews Made Easier

Many managers dread the performance review process because of the time and preparation needed to deliver to and support their employees. BoardSource recently posted an article with practical suggestions to make the process easier.[1] The premise of the article is that more frequent, focused, and conversational discussions are more effective than the once a year variety. The author also contends that these are more efficient and timesaving.

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

The Quarterly Review: Future Outcomes

The article recommends having goal-focused reviews quarterly, keeping the focus on future outcomes. Even checking mid-quarter on progress helps. Holding positive conversations about progress makes the process far less full of tension and anxiety. Here are some questions to pursue:

  1. What has gone well in your progress toward your goals?
  2. What has blocked your progress, and what changes do you need to make?
  3. What do you plan on doing next?
  4. How can your manager help you?

As a coach, I think this model is a very good one for one important reason – it teaches all involved to think strategically. At the end of the time frame (quarterly or yearly) a team can ask:

  1. If performance went well, what can we capitalize on for next year;
  2. If the project didn’t go as planned, what changes can be made the next time, and/or what adjustments can be made.

Thinking strategically is a very important skill for being a manager. Therefore, by following this pattern, managers are also mentoring employees for more responsibility or promotion. In addition, employees receive clarity about  their manager’s expectations.


[1] 3 Ways to Lighten up Performance Management Process, Randal Vegter, NewsCred, BoardSource, February, 2019

Conducting an Effective Meeting

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

Do you dread attending the weekly staff meeting and other meetings on your calendar?? Melanie Woodword from Balance Small Business offers the following advice:

“7 Tips For Effective Meetings 

Establish the Meeting’s Objectives

Before sending out a meeting alert and putting it on your calendar, ask yourself why you want to hold a meeting and determine the objective.  Is it a meeting to bring employees up to speed on a change in management?  Are you making a decision regarding a project?  Is it a brainstorming session for a new business strategy?  Be certain that gathering employees in a room for face-to-face discussion and interaction is necessary for your objective; if the purpose of the meeting is a status update, perhaps sending out a group email is a better use of everyone’s time.

Communicate the Purpose of the Meeting

When inviting others to your meeting, be clear about the purpose of the meeting.  This will not only keep you focused but will enable employees to attend the meeting prepared either with documents or with thoughts on the matter at hand.  Communication is essential for an effective meeting.

Be Selective about Attendees

No one appreciates attending a meeting that has no connection to them or their work.  Determine who really needs to be there and why.  Whose input do you need?  Which colleagues must participate and will likely have questions on the matter?  If someone is on your list that simply needs to be informed of what was discussed, then do them a favor and take them off the list.  They can be easily updated with a follow-up email.  Time is valuable and no employer wants to negatively impact productivity by having employees sit in on meetings that are unnecessary.

You Must Create a Meeting Agenda

Holding a meeting without a set meeting agenda is akin to climbing into a sailboat and hoping the wind takes you where you want to go.  You will – quite literally – be lost at sea.  Your meeting agenda will guide you to your final destination.  Include topics to be discussed and who will be addressing each item if others are taking part.  Email the agenda to attendees ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect and comes prepared.

Stick to Your Plan

Even the best-planned meeting will go awry if the discussion gets derailed and goes off on tangential topics.  This is why most meetings fail to achieve their objective – they do not stay on track. At the outset of your meeting, establish ground rules and a specified time allotment for each item on your agenda as well as the overall meeting. For example, “Thank you for coming today.  Everyone’s time is valuable and it is my goal to keep this meeting to less than an hour.  Let’s stick to the items at hand and reserve discussion on other subjects for a later time.”  Rein in anyone who is monopolizing the discussion or introducing topics, not on the agenda.

Keep Them Engaged”

Visual aids go a long way in keeping everyone focused on the meeting and not on their phones or the clock.  Post the agenda on a Smart Board in the front of the room.  Project visuals onto a large screen using a computer; anything to keep their eyes up front.

Summarize the Meeting

Ever leave a meeting and have a totally different takeaway than your colleague?  Make sure this doesn’t happen with your meeting by emailing a follow up within 24 hours.  Include a summary, highlight key topics addressed, tasks assigned and indicate deadlines.  Sending this out in a timely fashion will ensure that attendees don’t head in the wrong direction.

Author: Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC,org

Characteristics of a Good Leader

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

When plans don’t go as we hoped they would, or we get discouraged, we may ask ourselves what went wrong. What kind of a leader have I become? I recently read a very interesting article that provided the ten most important characteristics of a good leader. The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) is known for its rigorous research on leadership styles.  Their commitment to growing good leaders is unparalleled.

Based on their research – interviews with leaders from many parts of the world – CCL found a consistent core of leadership traits. They are…

            • Honesty                                • Commitment

            • Ability to delegate                • Positive attitude

            • Communication                    • Creativity

            • Sense of humor                     • Ability to inspire

            •Confidence                            • Intuition

I have already blogged about self-awareness – a good start on knowing if we possess any of these qualities. Another test might be to focus on a good leader we know and ask, “do they have these characteristics?”

May this information help your organization select and develop strong and authentic leaders.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Book Review by Michael D. Kogutek

   “Extreme Ownership” Jocko Willnik and Leif Barbin, St. Martin’s Press (2017)

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

“Extreme Ownership “is written by two former Navy SEALs, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, who now head up a leadership training and  executive coaching  company.  The battlefield experiences they share in this book are intense and vivid.

The book is written in a very basic and clear way. The authors convey one main point per chapter by sharing a story from their war experiences, then highlighting the main  leadership principle of that story, and finally giving a concrete example of how this principle applies in business and organizational  settings.

The main points can be summarized as follows:

(a) The leader is always responsible and there is no blame to go around. This is the “extreme ownership” concept.

(b) The team must believe in the mission.

(c) Collaborate with other teams to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

(d) Keep plans simple, clear, and concise.

(e) Check and monitor your ego.

(f) Assess your priorities, and then act on them one at a time.

(g) Clarify your mission and plan

(h) Communicate with your leadership team

(i) Execute decisively, even when things are chaotic.

 The simplicity, clarity, and structure of this book are its greatest strength.

A weakness in the  book is that it  does not take in account how emotions factor in  leadership, management and decision making. The book is totally alpha and needs to be balanced. It is a terrific read and I highly recommend it to you and your teams!! As Jocko would say in SEAL lingo: “Get after it!”

Author: Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Book Review by Michael D. Kogutek

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

Judith Glaser’s book is a welcome treat for coaches and mentors looking to expand their professional horizons. Her thesis is that the relationship is central and key is providing change and transformation. She comes from a coaching perspective and states that conversations build trust that move us as individuals and organizations.Her definition of trust in human relations is that, “ I get that you authentically have my best interest at heart, not just your own.” Glaser states,”People trust us more when we have their best interest at heart.” She details the case of making sure that one sets up key parameters for enhancing this process. It formalizes the theory behind how conversations evolve and the position of the different speakers. What sets this book apart from others is that the author brings neuroscience and research into the equation to substantiate her assumptions. Glaser’s book can help take your leadership to the next level by showing you how to enhance the quality of your conversations. I highly recommend it!

“ Conversational Intelligence” Judith E. Glaser Bibliomotion (2014)

Author: Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Organizational Changes Require Good “Facilitation Skills”

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

When organizations go through change, good leadership skills are necessary to withstand the uncertainty. A leader with good facilitation skills can assure a smooth transition and support transparency. The skills are required for good collaboration and consensus building. A significant skill to this learning is the ability to ask good questions, which fosters meaningful group discussion. Involving the whole group provides authenticity to the discussion and helps the group think through difficult issues.

How it might work: The CEO has announced some major changes in policy or operations, and you are about to meet with your staff to clarify the changes. You are interested in modeling for them the way in which they may take their teams through the same process. You want to prepare all levels of management to explain and communicate the message. Here are some questions to help the process:

What are your questions or concerns about the changes? Your goal is here is to let the staff know that you are open to their input and are willing to listen. You might even choose to take notes so you can follow up later, or brief the CEO. Be sure to emphasize that all comments and information are confidential to only those in the room. This needs to be emphasized early on.

Who on your team will be the most affected by the changes? It is important for staff to clearly think through how the changes will affect all employees. This is your chance to help them realize the impact of change and personalize the resolution. You can assure them of your support and that of the organization’s.

Can anyone share with us how they plan to meet with their team for this? An open discussion about methods and strategies helps others to formulate their plans – providing learning for those more hesitant or less skilled. It is important to give affected people as many options and as much participation as possible.

What else can I do to make your challenges easier? It’s important for a leader to demonstrate humility and accountability, and not just authority in helping employees adapt and accept the resolutions to the changes. Patience and support are key leadership skills here – longer than one might feel is reasonable. We do not all change at the same pace. Keeping a positive attitude and being accessible also helps.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Don’t Forget to Plan for the Unexpected

Dave Blankenhorn

Often in our planning we forget to look at what might happen in favor what we want to happen. As we consider our goals for the coming year give some thought to what might upset your best laid plans.

What internal and external threats could disrupt your mission?

Internal risks could include unplanned expenses, disruptions in revenue, inadequate reserves, or IT crashes, internal fraud or theft, inadequate insurance coverage, hacking, or reputation risk.

External issues could be how to operate if there is a natural disaster, economic downturn, or regulation changes.

Identify the risks, measure the possible impact of each, determine the probability of the occurrence of the risk, then prepare a plan to mitigate those with the highest potential to damage your organization.

These should be then incorporated as part of your overall plan tied together with your contingency plan.

Continue to review and update your assumptions during the year. As the Boy Scouts say: “Be Prepared”.

Author:  David Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Choosing Dogs & Board Members

The history of how dogs have been utilized to accomplish a wide variety of tasks is fascinating. The unique personality and physical characteristics of the breeds makes each one ideally suited for taking on some pretty demanding challenges.

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

One of the biggest challenges that ECofOC coaches confront is helping Executive Directors figure out who are good candidates to become board members. I came across this article by Hardy Smith, a Non-profit consultant from Florida. I found it to be spot on. Haley gave me permission to reproduce it here.” When watching the annual Westminster Dog Show, I am always intrigued by comments about each breed’s particular purpose and capability traits.

There are hunters, workers, leaders, protectors, and companions.

From water repellent coats and webbed paws for working in water to thick warm coats for cold climates to small bodies with short legs to big bodies with long legs, each breed is equipped with the right tools for getting specific jobs done.

Owners have depended on their dogs and their unique performance abilities for hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of years. Each breed’s record of competence has been well demonstrated.

Westminster Show announcers always stress the importance of considering a dog’s distinctive personality and physical characteristics as important factors when deciding which dog to bring into a home.

Some breeds are low maintenance and are great around children while others can demonstrate challenging behavior that requires patience and a commitment to training.

The consideration process for choosing the right dog can be applied to finding a new nonprofit or association board member.

What specific talents and abilities does your board need? What personality characteristics should be present to ensure someone will be a good fit?

What are your prospective board member’s demonstrated behavior and performance tendencies? Will patience and extra training be required?

Just as not all dogs are the same, neither are board members.

If you choose your board members with as much care and thought as you would take with choosing a dog, you will have a board’s best friend!”

  Hardy Smith Consulting http://www.hardysmith.com

Author: Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, ECofOC.org

ABC Test for Independent Contractors

Robin Noah

California’s top court makes it more difficult for employers to classify workers as independent contractors.

If you have independent contractors as workers in your business you need to review and take action to comply with the ABC test.

What Is the ABC Test, and How Can Small Business Owners Comply? The laws surrounding worker status have long been ambiguous. Deciding whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor has been largely left up to the employer’s discretion. Not anymore. Thanks to California’s 2018 court ruling, workers are now presumed to be employees. After implementing a new ABC test as law, California has greatly limited the number of workers businesses can call independent contractors.

 More than 20 states apply the ABC test. In one form or another. As the ABC test gains more and more traction nationwide, you may need to change how you classify your own workers. So, what is the test all about, and how will it impact your small business?

The ABC test is a three-part test employers must meet if they want to classify a worker as an independent contractor. The burden now falls on employers to prove workers are independent contractors. The ABC test makes it more difficult for employers to try to classify workers as independent contractors.

In April 2018, California’s Supreme Court adopted the ABC test following the Dynamex Operations case.

In the court case, delivery drivers who had worked for Dynamex sued the company for classifying them as independent contractors and not employees. Using the standards of the ABC test, the California Supreme Court ruled against Dynamex, saying that the workers should have been employees and not independent contractors. As a result, using the ABC test became law in the state of California.

Under the ABC test, a worker is only an independent contractor if they meet all three parts of the test: A) The worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in relation to the performance of the work, both under the contract and in fact, B) The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hirer’s business and C)  The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hirer

The second factor of this ABC test means you can’t hire someone to perform similar duties to that of your employees and expect them to be classified as an independent contractor.

Many employers in California who have classified workers as independent contractors (1099) may need to convert that classification to an employee class. Employers will need to review their workers classification and may have to convert some independent contractors to employees.

Author:  Robin Noah, Executive Coaches of Orange County,  www,ECofOC.org

New Year Invites Reflection and Evaluation

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

On behalf of all the coaches at Executive Coaches of Orange County, we want to wish you and your family a Happy New Year. May it be blessed with good health, peace and happiness. We at ECofOC are grateful that our 150 clients have chosen to turn to us for individual coaching or for our Executive Director Forum (36 members), or for both.

For the past 16 years, we have been living our mission of helping nonprofit leaders  and managers become more effective, efficient and successful so their organizations can do more of their good work in our community.

The new year offers a time for us to pause and take an inventory of where we have been and set new goals for the future. The services of ECofOC may provide you an opportunity to move forward and up your game. Change  needs to be met with accountability.

Coaching  provides a  one-on-one relationship to nonprofit leaders. Our coaches help managers set specific goals and solve difficult issues from a nonjudgmental perspective in a confidential setting. Coaching can address virtually any nonprofit management issue, including board development, fundraising, outreach, leadership, management, finance, IT and HR issues, personal development and career planning.

Our Executive Director Forum is comprised of 10 to 12 executive directors facilitated by two experienced ECofOC coaches in monthly meetings using a proven process to guide the group to practical solutions for issues brought to the table by each participant. These sessions allow executive directors to test ideas and work though issues with a group of their peers.

We  hope you will consider getting a coach. If you are a manager with a non-profit organization in Orange County, you can apply here at www.ecofoc.org. The price is right; it is FREE! Our team of coaches are prepared to take you where you want and dream to go. The moment and power of change is now!!

Author: Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange  County,  www.ECofOC.org