Category Archives: -By Author

Is your organization ready for Telecommuting?

Dave Blankenhorn

 

A growing number of workers are looking for benefits that lead to a greater balance between and home life. Recent research from the staffing firm of Robert Half found 77% of professionals surveyed would be more likely to accept a job offer if there is a possibility of telecommuting at least part of the time.

53% of employees polled by Gallup say a role that allows them to have a greater work-life balance is “very important” when considering a new job with 37% indicating they would switch jobs if an opportunity arose with a telecommuting option at least part of the time.

An organization needs to decide if there are positions that would lend themselves to this model. It seems people who perform creative tasks can be 20% more effective but those with repetitive roles 10% less so. There is a proven cost savings factor in reduced turnover and absentee rates by allowing people to work from home.

The drawbacks according to the Half survey include people abusing the benefit (22%), and strained personal interpersonal relationships due to a lack of face time. Many people like to be around other “team” members and are more productive in that atmosphere.

When it comes to telecommuting there are no easy answers. However, as the job market tightens and more competitors move this way, it makes sense to evaluate it and see if this a time to take the step.

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

Do you have Board term limits?

Dave Blankenhorn

 

A recent survey on boards by a community bank trade group highlights issues pertinent to not just banks but also to nonprofit organizations.

While many board members are “baby boomers” and getting older many boards have avoided the issues of term limits. This is a touchy subject as many are “founders” and feel a proprietary interest in the group. On the flip side without limits directors can become stagnant or cliquish and can stunt the success of the organization. In some cases, the long-term directors may prevent a younger and more diverse crop of leaders from joining the board.

Advantages to setting term limits include: the ability to add directors with specific skills, avoids stagnation, group-think, boredom and loss of commitment, avoids the potential for unhealthy insider attitudes, allows for a respectful and efficient way to remove ineffective directors, and most importantly brings in new ideas, perspectives and contacts.

There are some disadvantages to term limits; potential loss of expertise, loss of organizational memory, the time spent required to recruit and educate new directors, a loss in board cohesiveness and possible donation losses.

It is important for the current board leadership to step back and view what is right for them. While new blood and fresh ideas are vital to any organization so to are the loyalties and knowledge of existing members.

A way to retain these valuable people would be to set up an “Honorary Board” informing them of current activities, soliciting their input, and giving them the recognition, they so deserve.

No matter the path you choose about this issue not making one is a decision in itself.

Author: Dave Blamkenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC,org

Can Nonprofits Meet the Challenge of Social Change?

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

 

There is a movement afoot that supports “collective impact” by nonprofits. That is, for agencies serving similar (or the same) target populations, they should consider collaborative planning and actions with government, funders, and foundations, to better maximize resources. With trends that predict less government funding and an exponential need for services, proponents of this movement tend to minimize the effectiveness of individual organizations tackling a major social problem.

Perhaps the best example of this approach is the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force that unites the various services that respond to this need. There is law enforcement, rescuing agencies, housing agencies that all must play an important role in fulfilling the mission. I have written in a past article of the changing nature of governance in nonprofits because of similar opinions about how social change needs can be more effectively handled. And there are other national sources who are expanding on this theme.

There is UCLA and the Center for Civil society that has collaborated with consultants to espouse the Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative. The Stanford Social Innovation Review has an article and movement titled “Collective Impact” which I highly recommend for any agency thinking about the shift.

The thesis for Collective Impact is that ‘large scale social change comes from better cross-coordination rather than from the isolated intervention of individual organizations.’ The article states five conditions of collective success:

  • Common agenda – a shared vision of change.
  • Shared measurement systems – claiming web-based technologies have enabled common systems for reporting performance and for measuring outcomes.
  • Mutually reinforcing activities – participants undertake activities for which they are best trained and accountable, but that support and coordinate with the actions of others.
  • Continuous communication
  • Backbone Support Organization – a separate organization and staff with a specific set of skills that provides the infrastructure that is required for the     collaboration to succeed.

I encourage you to be aware of these changing trends even if your organization is thriving. I believe that this knowledge should be part of a strategic planning process to help participants know the reality of what is in the nonprofit universe of thinking.

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

“Business Coaching & Mentoring for Dummies”

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek

 

 

Book Review by Michael D. Kogutek

“ Business Coaching & Mentoring for Dummies” Marie Taylor & Steve Crabb, John Wiley & Sons,Inc. (2017)

The title of this book is a total misnomer. This is not a book for dummies but one for mentors and coaches who want to develop their professional skills. The authors spend time defining what coaching and mentoring are. They detail what the differences are. This is a comprehensive foundational overview for coaches and mentors. Resources and tools are explained to set up a coaching and mentoring engagement. The book is filled with business strategies, key concepts and effective techniques. There are written and verbal exercises are provided to help one take your client to the next level. What makes this book stand out from others is the detail spent on the psychological  dynamics that clients bring to the coaching and mentoring situation. I highly recommend it. You may want to consider purchasing this book as it would be an excellent reference book on your shelf.

Is turnover higher than you would like?

Dave Blankenhorn

 

Then maybe you need to look in the mirror and see if you have been a factor in that number.

A recent poll by BambooHR found that 44% of respondents said that very thing. Specifically, they pointed to a boss’s management style, condescending attitude, temperament inappropriate behavior and harassment as top reasons for leaving.

The top most egregious behavior is taking credit for employee’s work. 17% of the respondents said they left because the boss stole their ideas. Age played into this. 57% of employees between the ages if 18 to 29 say this totally unacceptable while 77% of workers over 60 feel the same way.

Number two on the list is a boss who doesn’t appear to trust or empower employees.

Number three is a boss who doesn’t appear to care when employees are over worked and number four is a boss who doesn’t advocate for employees when it comes to monetary compensation. Rounding out the list is a boss who hires and/or promotes the wrong people.

The study finds notable differences in how men and women view these behaviors. Men were more apt to find the bad behaviors more unacceptable and were more likely to leave compared to the percentage of women.

What are some good ways to retain your best employees.

Promote appropriately, pay according to the employee’s job and performance, solicit and employ input, encourage innovation, and encourage healthy competition for increased engagement.

It is easy to get caught up in the daily routine and overlook certain things. However, the future of your organization relies in large part on your human resources. Keeping good people around will most certainly lead to positive results.

Author:  Dave Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.orf

Learning from Failure

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

 

Most of us have experienced failure at some point in our lives – lost a job we wanted, lost a promotion, lost a contract or grant. I recently read an article that put a different spin on failure – learning from the experience. After enduring the disappointment, what comes next? With a mindset to associate failure with improvement and growth, this can be a springboard to future success.

 

1.Failure can make us like a ‘scientist’ – like the research chemist that tries again and again, to achieve his chemical theory:

– What factors went into the outcome?

– Who do I know who could give me insight and advice on these factors?

– Should I return to the decision maker for some honest feedback?

– If so, what is my behavior like – appreciative, sincere, not defensive?

 

  1. Failure demands reflection. The point is to examine the failure to determine if the cause might be part of our own weaknesses. Hopefully we can acknowledge what weaknesses may be holding us back – job assessments or performance reviews. But don’t let this knowledge shield you from the strengths for which you are already recognized. Those strengths are what took you to the present state and will be needed as you go forward.

 

3.Failure must generate a ‘can-do’ attitude. Albert Einstein was famous for saying, “a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new”. The reaction to failure is a test of character. A winner is a loser who just tries one more time.

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

 

Employee Improvement

Dave Blankenhorn

 

Indulging in our favorite foods is wonderful but can be unhealthy at times. Too much chocolate, ice cream and cake can add those calories very quickly and cause you problems. In the same vein playing favorites with employees can also result in negative results.  We are all human so we tend to gravitate to those with similar interests and personalities. To avoid that perception, you may need to validate that you are not playing favorites and are willing to treat everyone  evenhandedly.

Giving everyone a chance to grow and develop produces a team that can accomplish much more through expanded perspectives and creativity.

Here are some things to consider in this area;

Think inclusively when you assign work. Give people things to do and ideally tasks that will help them grow.

Hand out assignments on an equitable basis. Keep track of who is doing what. Rotate project leadership roles.

Encourage employees to participate. Greet new ideas warmly in meetings even if you don’t ultimately implement them. This will encourage more creativity within the staff.

Look for things you may have in common with others. Cultivate conversations about similar interests.

Wear their shoes. See their points of view.

Skipping that second helping of potatoes and gravy will do wonders for your health and in the same vein focusing on employee togetherness should result in a more effective organization.

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

 

Are You Prepared? The Breach of Data Security

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

 

I recently wrote about the benefits of data as a public relations tool – especially when the IRS Form 990 is available to the public. I would be remiss if I didn’t address the possibility of such data being hacked. “The philanthropy community is still catching up to the digital security needs faced by civil society” says two security experts, whose article is noted below.[1]

The article recommends four steps to take to be AWARE of the risk. They are:

  1. Commit to digital security as essential to all work. Although digital security work takes resources and energy, it is critical to keep a focus on its importance. Like fiscal responsibility and good governance, digital security needs to be part of strategic planning.
  1. Take big responsibility for big data. Organizations must take responsibility for stewarding their data seriously, or many people they serve, engaged supporters and institutions may be at risk.
  1. Prioritize “capacity building”. This means addressing the structural vulnerabilities that make it easy for an online adversary to attack the organization. This includes auditing the specific systems the organization uses to store, share, and process user data. The authors point out that individual training programs are not sufficient, since the ground is always changing. It takes focused, structural change. 
  1. See the shared threat as a call for interdependence. Digital security is a shared responsibility among funders, donors, partners, and our own customers and clients. Organizations need to be realistic about the interdependencies and work together to avoid the risks. But lastly, data security relies on a structural, system-wide focus in the organization to avoid the risk.

[1]Tackling Digital Security Across Civil Society”, Josh Levy & Katie Gillum, Stanford Social Innovation Review, April 20, 2018

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

5 Traits of Effective Bylaws

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek

 

Bylaws can be intimidating and complicated. Benjamin Miller from the Community Legal Education Group,Ontario, Canada writes a very concise and pragmatic article on the topic.He has given me permission to reproduce this article.  No matter how good your bylaws are in theory, if they don’t get used, they aren’t effective. Here is a list of 5 key traits of bylaws that actually get used.

1) They reflect the realities of your organization. The rules and processes set out in your bylaws should reflect what you actually do as an organization. You may have read about some great practices other organizations have put in place. Even if you think that your organization should be working to put those practices in place, remember that your bylaws have to grow with you. Recommendation: You can’t draft effective bylaws simply by looking at the best practices of other organizations. You must start by learning what your organization currently does and values. If someone is writing your bylaws for you, even an expert, make sure they spend enough time familiarizing themselves with your organization.

2) They reflect the delicate balance of interests in your organization. Every organization has to balance the interests of many groups, including directors, donors, funders, members, users, and others. If your bylaws exaggerate the power of any of these groups, you are on the road to either conflict or having those rules ignored. Recommendation: Just because only a few people are actually interested in the bylaws doesn’t mean their say should count for more. You should reach out as much as you can and make consultations as fun and social as possible.

3) They are easy to navigate and read. People don’t have the time to read bylaws back to front to collect all the relevant rules for a particular decision. On the spot in a meeting, you must be able to know exactly where to look for all the relevant rules and be able to scan them quickly for the right information. Recommendation: Organize the sections of your bylaws according to how they’ll be used, e.g. AGM, Directors Meetings, etc. Use generous margins and lots of space between sections that express different ideas and topics. Have a table of contents.

4) They are written clearly and efficiently. If you can’t understand your bylaws then you can’t use them. It’s that simple. Recommendation: Make a special effort to write your bylaws in plain language.

5) They are designed for the beginner. Your bylaws need to be used by your most junior board members, who may have no previous experience with this kind of document and may represent a vulnerable community. In fact, ideally your members should be able to understand your bylaws to hold you to account. Recommendation: When writing the bylaws, ask yourself “could an average member easily use these bylaws to hold our board to account?”

Finally, remember that your bylaws also need to be legally compliant. Consult with an appropriate legal advisor to make sure your bylaws are not only useful but legal too.

*This list is based on The Drafting of Corporate Charters and Bylaws (2nd ed.) by Kurt Friedrich Pantzer. (1968).

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

A Guide to Succession Planning

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

 

Succession planning is one of the hardest activities that non-profits take the time to consider. I was recently given a document that I feel every non-profit leader should read. This is because it provides every single consideration, every step, and many resources for completing the task. It is called, ‘Building the Organizations:Succession Planning for NonProfits’, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The author is Tim Wolfred of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services (compasspoint.org).

The document is 20 pages, and I would like to just tell you some of the subjects included, in the interest of space.

  • Three ways of thinking about succession planning:
    • Strategic leader development – assuring the right skills are present for the leadership in the strategic planning process.
    • Emergency succession planning – the document does an excellent job of laying out first steps, of demystifying the hesitancy that ‘being prepared’ might engender, and providing care for the departing leader.
    • Creating the probability for successors to the Executive Director and other important leaders to emerge from your talent pool.
  • A Succession Readiness list
  • The importance of sharing knowledge – to increase bench strength
  • The nuts and bolts of Departure-Defined Succession Planning – when a leader announces a departure date ahead of time.
  • Getting the Board on board
  • The Tough Issues
  • Finding an Interim Executive Director
  • Tools You Can Use – and where to get them
    • Staff surveys
    • Stakeholder Surveys
    • A sample of an Emergency Succession Plan – with steps to how to accomplish the plan (compasspoint.org/et).

I hope this information will encourage you to consider succession planning as vital to the success and sustainability of your organization.

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