Category Archives: Adrianne Geiger DuMond

Managing Conflict Between Direct Reports

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

One of the most worrisome tasks of a manager is managing conflict between direct reports – especially when it spills over into the staff. Rather than ignoring the situation, here are some steps to take to lessen the toll on everyone, and it is a manager’s responsibility to be held accountable.

Step 1: Setting the tone for a meeting: Preparing for a meeting requires a boss to think objectively, be open-minded about rumors and accusations, look only for the facts. For example: “I have called us together today to discuss the differences you two have, to try to understand what is going on, and to see what we can agree upon going forward. I am concerned for you and how it is affecting our team. I know how committed each of you is to the mission, so I hope we can find some agreement. Are you willing to try?”

 Step 2: Fact Finding: “ I think it might be helpful if you explained what the differences or disagreements are about. I ask each of you to tell us as objectively, clearly and specifically as you can, your perspective on the conflict. Afterward, each of you may ask the other any questions you have. Who would like to go first?” (If this goes well, thank them for their openness and candor. The manager’s job at this point is to push for clarity, remain open-minded and be supportive of the effort.)

Step 3: Describing today’s agenda: “ Now let’s see if we can find some solutions. I would like each of you to think a minute, and then tell us (a) what you admire about the other person, then (b) what you would like to see them do differently, or stop doing, and (c) WHY. After each has finished this part, the other person may ask questions for clarity – no reasons yet, just questions. Are you comfortable doing this? If not, please tell us why.” (Sometimes, just reassurance from the boss – especially for confidentiality – helps the process move on.)

Step 4: Seeking Agreement: This section seeks a list of actions and behaviors that each party might subscribe to that would lessen the tension between the two.  Identify potential points of agreement and areas of disagreement. Push for possible solutions that might satisfactorily resolve the conflict in a constructive way.

Step 5: Verify Solutions: Together, select solutions that meet all parties’ needs. Remember this might require some compromises, but all are aware of the positions taken. Changes can occur as goals are set and reviewed at a later date.

Step 6: Establish an Action Plan:  Each person develops an action plan with specific actions and behaviors that both are willing to take to implement the solutions. Agree to meet again in the not too distant future to review the plan and make any adjustments. Again, thank them for helping solve the conflict and reassure them you are always available to meet further.

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

Can Your Data Tell a Story?

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

 

 

How many of us input data, and never see it again, lacking an effective way to use it? What if the data could tell a compelling story that might inspire others to support the mission? An article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review website provides some recommendations for helping your data tell a story/[1]

 

1. Data storytellers answer a question – “so what”. I recently had a client whose services had added 20 customers for the quarter. That number had no significance until he asked some questions:

  • What percentage is 20 of our customer base?
  • How does this effect our operation?
  • Who needs to know these numbers?

Analysis of the data leads to clarity and to more questions.

2.  The data should inspire us to ask more questions.

Back to the example:

  • What factors contribute to this increase?
  • How does it effect staffing?
  • What external factors are contributing to the increase?
  • How can we portray this information graphically for social media purposes?

3.  The use of rigorous analysis is better than numbers on a page. A concise Executive Summary of the findings from the analysis is a first step.The author, Jake Porway, favors visualization of the data over raw numbers – a graph or pie chart to crystallize understanding for an audience. Porway has several websites in his article for learning more about data visualization. This may be difficult for some IT personnel. But the goal may be worth the investment in order to impress upon donors and volunteers, viewing the media source, that their service and contributions are needed and welcomed.

[1] Three Things Great Data Storytellers Do Differently,  Jake Porway, author, Stanford Social Innovation Review, June 8, 2016

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

The Glossary for Nonprofit Governance

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

 

Many of us in the nonprofit world use terms and acronyms that may be confusing to newcomers – especially young employees trying to learn about the nonprofit as a business. I recently ran across a very useful tool for educating everyone in this business. The glossary should probably be in every manager’s office.

The Glossary is published by BoardSource and can be found under Nonprofit Board Fundamentals on their website. The glossary is alphabetized and runs five pages and has every term that is ever used in this business.

For example: have you ever wondered what the difference was between a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(6)? There are also simpler definitions: For example:

  •  Board Development
  •  Disclosure requirements
  •  Emeritus status
  •  Fiduciary duty
  •   Immediate sanctions
  •   Operational reserves

Possibly the most Important definitions provided for novices are the terms for IRS requirements, which can be confusing. For example:

  • Form 990
  • Form 990 – PF
  •  Form 990 – T
  •  Form 1023
  •  Form 1024
  • Or maybe a ‘Federated Organization’ ?

I recommend every nonprofit have a copy of this glossary – maybe even board members might appreciate the information.

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

Form 990 Can Be a Public Relations Tool

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

Many nonprofits consider the IRS Form 990 to be a dreary necessity at tax time. In the 2008 tax year, major revisions were made to the Form. Nonprofits have been slow to realize the impact the revisions may have for donors and the public.  The diverse information provided in the new Form is now available to the public and can be found online free at at such sites as Guidestar.org, and nccs.urban.org.

In a recent article by Michael Wyland, an author and member of the editorial advisory board for the Nonprofit Quarterly, Wyland points out the advantages to providing accurate and complimentary information on the Form.[1] The Form displays not only financial information (assets and liabilities), but also facts that address governance, programs, and fundraising. His article shows a breakdown of the Form with its schedules and functional area relevance, because not every nonprofit completes the same schedules. However, he points out that most of the 990 parts and schedules still address the multiple categories of governance, programs, and fundraising.

As Wyland notes,”not all organizations complete all parts of the Form, and not all file each and every schedule. For example, while most 501(c)(3) public charities must file Schedule B (Schedule of Contributions), it is considered confidential and not disclosed to the public. Private foundations, on the other hand, must disclose and make it publicly available.”

Never the less, ALL Form 990’s do reveal to the public governance (governing bodies and management, policies, and disclosures), programs, and fundraising. A potential donor may look for efficiencies and financial data, but still seek the charity that meets his/her passion for a particular service or need. A potential volunteer may consider who manages the organization and where they can fit in. It is important for all nonprofit staffs and boards to be aware of the public exposure, but also the opportunity to be more advantageously promoted to the public.

[1] Your 990: What Nonfinancial Matters Does It Reveal to the Media and the Public, Michael Wyland, Nonprofit Quarterly, November 17, 2017

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

Changing Leadership Skills for the Promotion

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

Even good leaders often face uncertainty when they consider what skills need changing in the new job. In a recent newsletter published by the Center for Creative Leadership, they present four (4) important attributes to consider: Self- Awareness, Communications, Influence, and Learning Agility. The premise is that these skills vary depending on the job level in the organization.[1]

Self Awareness: This knowledge may be the most important for the accomplishment of all the skills. For example, do you lead intuitively, deliberately, or strategically and to what degree? If you move from an operational level to a management level, will you need to think strategically and how do you get there? Self-assessment instruments and feedback surveys provide this kind of knowledge so a person can use his/her strengths effectively and make adjustments to the weaknesses. ECOC has coaches skilled in this process and are able to assist in the planning and execution of this process.

Communications: Communications becomes more complex as one moves up the ladder. It is basic to success at many job levels, but requires a different perspective in a larger role. This is especially true if a new boss has been a peer before. Different skills may be building trust, encouraging discussion, listening well, and conveying the vision, mission, and strategic intent.

Influence: Now you need to bring people along and influence their thinking, align the actions of others, and build commitment to achieve measureable outcomes. Again, it is wise to know one’s style of doing this so that adjustments can be made, if necessary. New skills required may be: presenting logical and compelling arguments, more focus on steering long-range objectives, giving insight, inspiration and motivation.

Learning Agility: Being constantly open to learning provides the confidence it takes to learn new skills. “ Learning agility involves asking good questions, respect for give-and-take, listening well, and being open to feedback. For senior leaders, learning agility also includes inspiring learning in others and creating a culture of learning throughout the organization.”[2]

[1] “Leading Effectively”, The Center for Creative Leadership, September 29, 2017.

[2]  Ibid.

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

Improving Board Governance: Part 3

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

The role of the CEO/Executive Director: Barriers and Risks

I have spoken in past blogs of the importance of a ‘generative mindset’ for enhancing the importance of Board governance. Generative mindset encompasses a macro level of thinking for Board meetings. There is a risk when Board members are confortable with a less strenuous mode of thinking. They may be uncomfortable with the new mode. It may take some time for Board members to accept and participate easily.

Perhaps the most important role for success is by the CEO/Executive Director (ED).  The ED is the primary conduit between staff and Board (as should be defined in the by-laws). The ED is responsible for educating the Board – to improve governance – and is accountable for the knowledge and information the Board receives. The ED also controls the pace of meetings so they are useful as well as informative – and this is an important necessity. Meetings can drag on, lots of talk, little new understanding or resolution on next steps.

Meeting guidelines for the CEO/ED:

  • In a separate meeting, beforehand, brief the Board chair, explain your goals so that he/she can support your quest.
  • Explain how governance is a partnership – between ED, staff, and Board.
  • Prepare and select carefully the project/subject for which the Board can provide guidance.
  • Encourage Board members to ask more questions than statements – challenging suppositions.
  • Ensure that nothing is “undiscussable” in the board room, and assure confidentiality.
  • Encourage different opinions.
  • Share information and leadership opportunities – asking questions can prove this to members.
  • Control discussion where a member dominates – one way to do this is to say,  “Sam, in the interest of time, let’s meet after the meeting to hear your viewpoint so that others can express their opinions here more openly”.
  • Don’t be too wedded to the past, but also not too far ahead of the Board.

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

Improving Board Governance: Part 2

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

The Importance of Effective Board Meetings

Board meetings can be comprised of dedicated supporters, and/or highly trained professionals – all committed to the cause, but with different skill sets for good governance. Part 1 of this series named the three ‘mindsets’ that Boardsource likes for adequate governance of a nonprofit. They were: Financial Insight, Strategic Insight and Generative Insight – the third mindset being the most challenging to grasp.

Generative governance requires time being spent to feel comfortable with the concepts – critical thinking, problem analysis, and tackling ambiguous Board circumstances. It’s more than the usual Board meeting agenda. Board, staff, and CEO must work as partners to handle the strategies going forward. A generative mindset might be quite healthy in a nonprofit’s staff and its teams. For example, a problem arises, the appropriate team analyses cause and effect, researches possible solutions, proposes recommendations to the CEO – who then takes it to the Board. A generative mindset might mean that the staff person/team leader also present their reasoning to the Board, since the Board may need to approve a large expenditure. This thinking for the Board is at a macro level that may feel uncomfortable at first. And it requires better preparation for Board meetings – asking better questions instead of focusing on immediate, short-term considerations – like balancing the budget.

Operating in a generative mode is educating Board members and requires more meeting time and resources for critical thinking, discussion and debate. Here are some tips for making the transition easier.

Consent agendas:  Sending out an agenda ahead of the meeting allows quick acceptance of routine reports and approval of recurring actions.

Pre-reading: No meeting time should be spent reviewing documents for information and knowledge, Information should be sent early enough for Board members to be prepared for discussion and to provide their opinions.

Board Composition: A diversity of thinking styles and problem solving is important. This is a great learning opportunity for all involved. Often, great team work is the outcome – members having better understanding of each other.

In Part 3 I will cover the important role of the Chief Executive in this process, and the risks and barriers.

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

 

Improving Board Governance: Part 1

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

Three Important Precepts – or ‘mind sets’

How many of us as Board members go to meetings, approve the minutes, the budget, listen to program staff or a video on a success story (that matches our mission), exchange pleasantries, and go home feeling quite satisfied that we have fulfilled our volunteer commitment? Is that good governance of our organization? Should we be thinking deeper?

I recently ran across some excellent concepts on Boardsource.com that I would like to share with you. Boardsource calls it ‘generative governance’, and although I don’t favor the esoteric title, there are some precepts that compel me to write several blogs. The concepts are very practical. Boardsource calls the precepts ‘mind sets’. There are three of them, and two are quite traditional and recognized. They are:

  • Fiduciary oversight – review budgets, oversee financial policies, ensure reserves, avoiding unnecessary risk.
  • Strategic oversight – the chief executive, board and staff work together to develop and determine strategic goals and initiatives. They must also work together as strategic partners to determine the organization’s direction.
  • Mindset 3 – ‘Generative insight’ – is the use of critical thinking (challenging suppositions) and problem analysis, tackling ambiguous situations, so that both board and staff partner to establish mission and goals.

The generative mindset tends to take everyone out of their comfort zone – the chief executive (who plays a major role in the transition), staff and board. But there are steps to be taken that ensure board members learn to be part of the decisions and feel comfortable with the process.

In Part 2 of this series we will define those steps, and provide tips for restructuring the board meetings to facilitate the mindset.

In Part 3 we will consider the importance of the chief executive’s role in leading this change, and the barriers and risks involved.

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

Listening: The Strategies to Hear What’s NOT Being Said

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

 

 

Have you ever left a conversation and said to yourself, there is more to this than was said. The art of good listening is hearing those unsaid thoughts. How does that take place? A recent article I read by David Grossman, a communications expert[1] caused me to reflect on a team meeting I had just left. I could identify with the description Grossman gives for the listener’s perspective, and I quote:

  • We talk too much and don’t listen.
  • We listen to respond instead of listening to understand.
  • We’re not listening for word clues or noticing body language that signify there’s additional information that is yet to be uncovered.

What are the strategies to be employed that can help alleviate these challenges?  Here, again, are Grossman’s good recommendations:

  • Listen to understand and don’t be thinking about what you will say next.
  • Listen for the underlying issue or emotion, and push back on your assumptions.
  • Listen and clarify, asking questions to ensure everyone understands before moving on to another topic.
  • Trust your gut if you feel as if the whole story is not being told. Repeat, listen and clarify.
  • Notice body language – body shift, facial expressions changing – which are clues that more questions could be asked.
  • When we communicate effectively, we understand where the other person is coming from. That DOESN”T mean we need to agree with them.
  • Ask yourself in your head, “ What’s not being said.”

Effective leaders know the importance of good communications – especially in building strong teams. But also, effective leaders are sometimes narcissistic and feel they know all the answers. Here are ways to tackle those weaknesses.

[1] ‘Strategies that Work to Listen for What’s Not Being Said’, leadercommunicatorblog, David Grossman, the Grossman Group, April 24, 2007

The Impact of Social Change on Non Profits

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

  • “I would expect that more than one third of all men in the U.S. between the ages of 25 and 54 will be out of work at mid-century.”[1]
  • “The collapse of work for America’s men is arguably a crisis for our nation – but it is a largely invisible crisis.”[2]
  • “And the troubles posed by this male flight from work are by no means solely economic. It is also a social crisis.”[3]

This writer is neither an economist or a sociologist, but I feel compelled to pass on some critical information noted by economists. The staggering statistics will make the non profit world all the more important, and also stretch their work load to the extreme – if not already there.

John Mauldin, the economist in his weekly newsletters, has recently covered the findings of a book entitled Men Without Work, America’s Invisible Crisis by Nicholas Eberstadt. The findings portend the social change that will require ever more help from social agencies. The book claims that “…there are some 10 million men of prime working age (25-54) who have simply dropped out of the workforce, and the great majority of them have not only dropped out of the workforce, but they have also dropped out from any commitments or responsibilities to society.”

The trend is not recent. Manufacturing jobs have been waning for decades, Trade policies, technological advancements have also snuffed out jobs – especially for low skilled workers. “As economic life has become less secure, low skilled workers have tended towards unstable cohabiting relationships rather than marriages……The growing incapacity of grown men to function as breadwinners cannot help but undermine the American family.” The book also explains the drastically increased mortality rates ( e.g. up 190% since 1998 for white men, unskilled, ages 50-54) from alcohol drugs, depression and suicide.

I highly recommend the book. It is only 216 pages of serious warnings for the future.

 

[1] Thoughts from the Frontline, weekly newsletter by John Mauldin, March 28, 2017

[2] Ibid, Men without Work by Nicholas Eberstadt, a book referenced in the above article.

[3] Ibid

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