Category Archives: Managing Employees

What We Can Learn From Baseball

Dave Blankenhorn

A recent article, authored by Dave Blankenhorn (my son), in The Zweig Letter uses an interesting baseball story to illustrate the importance of “top down” and “ bottom up” communication in any organization.

There was much controversy in the last World Series when Dave Roberts, the Dodger manager, removed pitcher Rich Hill in the seventh inning who had at that point held the Sox to only one hit. The result was a Dodger loss which led to their eventual defeat.

What happened?

Following the game, it was revealed that the descion to remove Hill stemmed from a quick statement Hill had made in the dugout at the end of the sixth inning expressing concern to Roberts that he might not be able to hold up much longer. Roberts did not reply. So after walking the lead off hitter in the seventh Roberts walked to the mound to simply check in on Hill. He did not raise his hand signaling for a reliever. It was just a check-in. However, Hill assumed he was coming to remove him. Without a word he handed the ball to Roberts and walked off the mound. This lack of communication changed the trajectory of the game and in the end the World Series. Both said later that had either of them followed up with a question to clarify the intent of the other then Hill would have stayed in the game and the World Series would possibly have ended in a different way.

This story highlights the importance of complete and clear communication in any organization. Leadership needs to set a clear vision on the culture and strategy and let the staff know where to focus their energy. In turn staff needs to listen to staff to gain that input on how to be more effective. Any explicit or implicit message should be clarified to avoid a “7th inning” moment that could do great harm to your organization.

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

Ghosting Is Not Just a Halloween Term Any More

Dave Blankenhorn

It’s a recent phenomenon describing the practice of of suddenly ending a relationship without explanation. While this term frequently crops up in dating circles in recent years it has spread to the workplace where employers are donning the the role of jilted lover.

Ghosting can take several forms. A job candidate may ditch an arranged interview or even be a no show to the office on Day 1. More than that it can take hold among seasoned staff members who simply leave one day and don’t return to work. One staffing agency estimates it happens with up to 20% of white-collar workers.

Experts point to low employment and a plethora of available jobs as reasons why some job seekers and seasoned employees are willing to ditch working commitments.

This is obviously troubling. What can you do to neutralize any negative effects?

For starters consider launching a top down effort to be respectful to all employees and and transparent when communicating with them. By modeling positive the organization stands a better chance of staff modeling this behavior. It is also important to monitor employee morale to ensure some are not slipping between the cracks.

Organizations should also try to view things through the eyes of prospective employees. Some employers themselves are guilty of ghosting candidates by stringing them along for a time and then ceasing all forms of contact. Job seekers should not be left hanging indefinitely recognizing that that successful hiring is a two-way street.

You might consider a more user-friendly hiring experience. Some companies have launched programs that allow job applicants to track progress through each stage of the hiring process.

If you have been a victim of ghosting know that it can happen to anyone but seek to learn why and take steps to mitigate this troublesome issue.

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

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

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

Are you an effective time manager?

Dave Blankenhorn

 

A recent Harvard Business Review CEO survey tracked how CEOs spent their time over a three-month period. As you might guess CEOs have huge demands on their time and use a mix of strategies to manage these. However, they found CEOs could become more effective if they paid more attention to what happens when they aren’t crossing items off their to-do lists and planning ahead. Getting out of the “weeds” is important in every size organization

More time to think- CEOs need more time to reflect, recharge, strategize, and prepare for upcoming events. Many CEOs easily fall into the habit of being reactive not proactive. Time can help them and others in their organizations come up with new ideas and strategies to implement them. 

Attend fewer meetings- the higher you climb in the ranks the more meetings you will attend. The surveyed CEOs spent over 70% of their time in meetings. It may help to take stock of the types of meetings attended and pull back from those less strategic ones.  Also having a clear agenda and prepared participants will reduce the time by half. 

Delegate and move on– great CEOs try to surround themselves with a highly qualified and dedicated team. These CEOs then try to delegate as much as possible to this group. By empowering them you have more time to spend at the strategic level.

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

Future Nonprofit Challenges: Stifling Innovation

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

The United Way recently released a survey of nonprofits, identifying the issues facing nonprofits. I will list some of them, and then describe some behaviors that we, as leaders and managers, subconsciously do to sabotage innovation.[1]

Issues Facing Nonprofits:

  • Difficulty to change and be flexible;
  • Looking and thinking beyond what they have walking though the door every day
  • Being sustainable;
  • Lack of collaborative spirit; Many only see and value what they do;
  • Collaborate in short term because it seems convenient;
  • Flexibility, ability to adapt to policy changes;
  • Personnel turnover;
  • Clear succession planning.

 

Behaviors that Stifle Innovation

  • Not evaluating a creative idea thoroughly: don’t commit the necessary resources or systems;
  • Confining innovation to R & D;
  • Forcing structure and hierarchy;
  • Pushing a top-down approach;
  • Criticizing first; not praising the effort to be creative;
  • Rejecting ambiguity
  • Acting like a know-it-all.

Innovation surrounds us, even when we choose not to acknowledge it. Innovation supports the precept that leaders must be “transformational” (comfortable with change) rather than “transactional” ( conducting business as usual). I have a distinguished coach colleague, Ernest Stambouly, a high-technology expert who has written extensively about ongoing rapid change in technology, and what it means for nonprofits and social enterprises – now and for the future. In his blog “Modern Technologies Hold a Promising Outlook for the Nonprofit”, he shares how innovation will no longer be confined to corporate R&D but will be the power tool for the transformational leader in the nonprofit. I encourage you to read it at http://ecofoc.org/category/by-author/ernest-stambouly/.

 

[1] 9 Ways Leaders Subconsciously Sabotage Innovation, the Center for Creative Leadership newsletter, July 31, 2018

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

“Business Coaching and Mentoring for Dummies”

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael 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.

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

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

“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.