Does your non-profit culture contain bears?


By John Greco
Originally published on April 19, 2012
Re-posted with permission from johnponders blog
bear1Two men were walking through the woods when a large bear walked out into the clearing no more than 50 feet in front of them.
The first man dropped his backpack and dug out a pair of running shoes, then began to furiously attempt to lace them up as the bear slowly approached them.
The second man looked at the first, confused, and said, “What are you doing? Running shoes aren’t going to help, you can’t out run that bear.”
“I don’t need to.  I just need to out run you.”
[Author unknown, but greatly appreciated!  If you or anyone you know has a proprietary interest in this story please authenticate and I will be happy to credit, or remove, as appropriate.]

Think of your co-workers, or your circle of friends.
Would you take off and leave them for bear food?
Would they take off and leave you for bear food?
In the organizations we work in, if we see this kind of behavior on an isolated, every now and then basis, we would likely be safe to attribute it to unbridled ambition, to competitive spirit run amuck.
But if we see this consistently, broader …
Have you ever worked in a culture where there were ever present threats, where there was a palpable feeling that to survive you needed to, well, look out for yourself at every turn?  Every man for himself?
Not exactly a culture, one would think, that drives cooperation, communication, collaboration… and not exactly a culture that we would predict would produce stellar results.
bear3But here’s something we can predict:  embedded in these cultures we will find organizational policies and/or management practices that pit one associate against another … we will find policies and/or practices that recognize and reward individual achievement without also recognizing and rewarding teamwork and team results … and we will find organizational initiatives that at best only temporarily solves problems (because they only address symptoms) without real and substantial effort and action to fundamentally address the root causes of problems.
In other words, we will find the bear.
john greco sig

Have you forgotten year-end evaluations and performance plans during the year-end scramble?

setting the stageWelcome to O.D. Fridays at DonorDreams blog. Every Friday for the foreseeable future we will be looking more closely at a recent post from John Greco’s blog called “johnponders ~ about life at work, mostly” and applying his organizational development messages to the non-profit community.

It is that time of the year when non-profit leaders set the stage for the next year. This time of the year is always critical and tripping up usually means the next year won’t be a banner one. Here is just a small sampling of what is on the plates of many non-profit executive directors:

  • Budget construction
  • Resource development / revenue planning
  • Program planning
  • Year-end holiday fundraising and stewardship strategies
  • Working with the board development committee to complete year-end board volunteer evaluations
  • Developing annual performance plans for the upcoming year for staff
  • Completing year-end evaluations

Interesting enough, in my experience, it is the last three bullet points that get swept under the rug by so many non-profit organizations.

Today’s blog post is short and sweet because it is the end of the Mayan calendar and I have a few things to do before the world ends. So, please ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you anxious about evaluating your employees?
  2. Have you neglected to put 2013 annual performance plans together for your staff?
  3. Have you let your Board Development / Board Governance Committee off the hook yet again when it comes to year-end board evaluations?

If you answered ‘YES’ to any of these questions, then please “click-through” and read John’s most recent post titled “There Is No Crying In Performance Reviews!

Not only does he “hit the nail on the head,” but I don’t have any personal stories that are better than the ones he shares.

If you didn’t get a chance to read this month’s guest post from Dani Robbins, then you may want to click here and circle back to her thoughts on  year-end evaluations for board volunteers. I urge you to consider what Dani says and compare it to John’s post about employee evaluations. Does John’s organizational development insights and suggestions also ring true when it comes to year-end board member evaluations. If so, what can you do to support your Board Development Committee to have “AUTHENTIC” and “GENERATIVE” conversations with their peers?

Enjoy the last day of civilization as we know it (just kidding) . . . and Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847