There is no “I” in team.
This adage is especially true when it comes to teams working in an organization for a common purpose. In fact, one definition of team I use often is “a team is a group of people with a shared purpose as well as clear roles and expectations that allow the team to work smarter, not harder in achieving purposes.”
When I have the opportunity to work on team-building with staff from a nonprofit organization, a parish or school, or even a for-profit setting, I often think about what will help the individuals both preserve their individuality and create unity in the midst of diversity. The image comes to mind of a symphony: many different women and men playing different instruments yet working together to create beautiful music that couldn’t be made by just one or two sections.
The image is nice in theory, but how do we achieve it in reality? There are six steps, in my experience, that help teams create “beautiful music” together.
Step 1: A shared understanding of the purpose that unites the team.
What is the team’s mission or desired outcome of working together?
Step 2: Clarification of roles and expectations.
Just like in the symphony where different roles (instruments) work together to create music, it is important for teams to understand the contributions expected of each individual to the whole outcome.
Step 3: Conflict management.
Every team will experience conflict or disagreement. Every member of the team needs to commit to naming the conflicts as they occur and to manage them openly and honestly. Conflict management contributes to superior problem-solving and positive team morale.
Step 4: Be flexible.
Unexpected challenges will show up regularly during the team’s work to achieve its mission. A degree of flexibility is always helpful; adjust your plans mid-course when necessary to address these challenges. Flexibility can often transform challenges into opportunities for learning and better outcomes.
Step 5: Learn from the experience of every team member.
A commitment to learn from every team member is another essential component of effective teams. The collective IQ can grow as members share learning, surprises, and questions thereby enhancing team learning and performance.
Step 6: Have fun.
While teams most often are expected to perform serious work and achieve serious outcomes, it is also good for the team to have fun along the way, to enjoy the experience of working together and celebrate both their successes and struggles.
I believe teams that practice these six steps increase immeasurably their own learning, personal satisfaction and desired outcomes. I encourage you to experiment with these ideas on your teams and share your learnings and successes with us.
Posted on May 7th, 2013 by admin in Uncategorized Comments Off
On a scale of 1-10—with 1 being “a waste of time” and 10 being “outstanding partners”—how would you rate your Board?
Many Boards, especially non-profit Boards, are pools of underdeveloped potential. There are many reasons why, but most would fall into these five areas:
Role clarification. What kind of a Board is it? Advisory? Decision-making? A working Board? Be clear about the role you want your Board to play. And pay attention to the difference between a vision and policy role and a day-to-day operations role. Generally, the former is the job of the Board (with input from staff) and the latter is the job of staff (with input from the Board).
Recruitment. A lot of nonprofits have a tough time finding Board members, so they will take pretty much any warm body that says yes. What is your recruitment strategy? What kind of backgrounds do you want your Board members to have (direct service, finance, fund raising, gender, age or ethnic diversity, etc.)? If you are clear about what you’re looking for, you will avoid the pitfall of filling Board slots with people who won’t strengthen the Board’s functionality.
Reasons for serving: The motive for membership on your board is pivotal. If the goal is a merit badge for their resume or recognition for public service, then don’t bother. Effective Board members are both passionate about the mission and willing to work with the President or Executive Director to create a vision for the future as well as a system of accountability in realizing the vision. If your Board members cherish this opportunity to make a difference in a way that matters, then you will both benefit from serious investment.
Responsibilities. What responsibilities will individual Board members have? Will they just be asked to show up at Board meetings, or will they serve on one or more committees? What is the extent of their financial responsibilities—will they be liable if your organization is sued? Are they responsible for fundraising? It’s a good idea to create a job description for Board members that lists their responsibilities.
Realistic expectations. How much time do you expect Board members to give to Board activities? Do you expect that they will contribute financially as well as give their time? How long will they be expected to serve? Will they be asked to bring their friends on board? You want not only to be clear at the outset about expectations, but you also want to be realistic.
Paying attention to these areas of Board development is the job of both you and the Board. And that might feel like just another task added to your already-overloaded schedule. But you’ll find that being serious about Board development will, in the end, make everyone’s job easier not harder.
Posted on March 19th, 2013 by admin in Uncategorized Comments Off
Change is a constant that permeates every part of our lives—in our world, our churches, our work and our personal lives. Because of the reality of ongoing change, it is very important for dioceses to look at restructuring in order to be more faithful, mission-focused and credible in the 21st century.
The six guidelines below are intended to assist dioceses make the leap into newer and better ways of being Church.
Clarify how well-organized your parishes are in light of current and emerging demographics.
In our experience, the vast majority of decisions about the current configuration of parishes in a diocese were made in the early to mid 20th century. As we know, much has changed in the last 60-70 years and parishes must change to be able to serve their people in meaningful ways.
Consider a project to re-organize existing parishes into a more manageable, workable system.
Unless you are totally satisfied with your current configuration of parishes, an important way to be a good steward of the people and facilities you have is to commit to a process of parish re-structuring in order to revitalize parish life and strengthen the presence and ministry of the Church in the diocese.
Commit to a diocesan-wide restructuring process and resist the temptation to do just one group of parishes at a time.
The benefit of a diocesan-wide approach is that no parish feels singled out because all parishes participate in the self-evaluation process. That process is conducted in conjunction with neighboring parishes in order to exercise better stewardship of available resources and ultimately to lead to a new parish spirit throughout the whole diocese. (See our 8-Step Process we use when working with dioceses.)
Focus on creating new parish communities rather than closing parishes.
This is an essential ingredient in successful parish re-organization. When re-organization is done well, there are no winners and losers. Instead, all Catholics in a given area have the sacred opportunity to contribute to helping build a new parish community. For example, if four parishes are coming together to form one community, there would be closing liturgies in all four parishes and then an opening liturgy at the site of the new parish.
Engage in both a “top-down” and a “bottom-up” process.
Bishops and their advisors have a key role to play in the project. They establish goals for the overall process and criteria for viable parishes. They also identify explicit assumptions unique to the diocese that will influence the re-organization. Each parish has a significant role to play as well; we recommend that the pastor or pastoral administrator and four parishioners be appointed as representatives from each parish to help shape their parish and cluster plan. This combination or “both/and” approach offers the opportunity for a tremendous experience of partnership and leads to new life for Catholics throughout the diocese.
Consider implementing a Chancery re-organization at the same time.
Since the parish structures will change, it makes sense to many Bishops to look at restructuring the Chancery or Pastoral Center to ensure that diocesan staff are best organized to extend the Bishop’s ministry in effective service to all parishes and faith communities.
Posted on February 21st, 2013 by admin in Uncategorized Comments Off
“Are we allocating job responsibilities appropriately among our staff? Are we organized in the best way to further our mission and deal with changing needs and priorities?”
These questions from a bishop of a medium-sized Catholic diocese calling us for consultation echo those of many organizational leaders. With all the change we all experience today, a central question for organizations is: how do we re-invent ourselves? How do we focus on our mission while adapting to a new environment of demographics, social media, and more?
One proven way for leaders to help their organizations reinvent themselves (in the best sense of the word) is through an organizational assessment. At The Reid Group, we have conducted organizational assessments with a number of organizations, with positive results. The process we designed in collaboration with this Catholic bishop can be adapted for use in many organizations:
- A conversation with the lead executive and his/her core team of advisors to clarify outcomes for the assessment and the key issues to be addressed.
- Individual and focus group interviews with selected shareholders throughout the organization, including a representative cross-section of the organization.
- Identifying a preliminary set of recommendations based on the desired outcomes, key issues and the interviews. These recommendations are reviewed by a Futuring Team (10-15 women and men invited by the lead executive to contribute to the project).
- Drafting the recommendations with a rationale and timeline to be shared with all shareholders for feedback.
- Based on the feedback, creating a final draft of the recommendations for review and amendment by the Futuring Team.
- The lead executive decides on the recommendations and develops a specific action plan for immediate, short- and long-term actions over three to five years.
- Broad-based communication of the results of the assessment throughout the organization and to the public with an explanation of the changes and an invitation to all shareholders to contribute to a new chapter in the life of the organization.
“The future is ours to plan,” commented one participant in this diocesan assessment. “I truly believe and trust that the straight talk will effect change that builds a stronger Diocesan faith community with a more unified sense of our mission. That gives me hope!”
Posted on January 30th, 2013 by admin in Uncategorized Comments Off
In challenging economic times like these, many organizations are tempted to put off an investment in the development of their top leaders. And yet it is precisely in times like these that leadership development, especially of top leaders, is most important if the organization is to survive the challenges of the times.
Successful organizations tend to engage in a three-phase process for leadership development over the leadership life cycle:
Phase 1: Discovering the Talent
Talent development and management stretches the concept of leadership development to include strategies for assessing and nurturing the potential of leaders at all levels of the organization, including the executive level. Organizations that engage in this phase of leadership development recognize that their leaders—present and future—don’t just magically emerge fully formed. As the Harvard Business Review (July/August 2008) acknowledged, talent development is a “make or break” competency and is emerging as a crucial function for sustainable organizations.
Phase 2: Investing in the Talent
Just as leaders don’t emerge out of the ether fully formed, neither does their emergence guarantee success in their position. A Manchester Group/LeaderSource study found recently that 39% of CEOs are out within 18 months and 75% fail from a lack of interpersonal capacity or understanding of culture.
In other words, the most meticulous search process, whether of internal or external candidates, does not in and of itself mean the organization’s leadership development job is done. Investment in continuing leadership support strategies such as executive coaching is critical for ensuring the success of the executive and, by extension, the success and sustainability of the organization.
Phase 3: Retaining the Talent
Once an executive is developed, qualified, selected and transitioned into a role, it is critical that investment be made to continue his/her growth. Nothing has the potential to derail an executive more than the lack of regular, formal feedback in which performance is tied to strategic initiatives or the organization’s priorities. Performance evaluation, when given the appropriate attention and emphasis, is an integral part of ongoing leadership development.
To summarize: leaders don’t grow on trees, but they do grow. And organizations that don’t invest in nurturing, developing and sustaining that growth will find these challenging times even more daunting.
Posted on January 11th, 2013 by admin in Uncategorized Comments Off
Many organizations want to start off the new year with a re-vitalized fund development program. Maybe your fundraising efforts weren’t as successful as you would have liked in 2012. Or maybe there are new needs your organization wants to meet. And the fact is, even for those organizations whose fund development is running smoothly, it’s a good idea to review the elements of your fundraising program with an eye towards opportunities for growth.
1. List management
What shape is your database in? What systems do you have in place to maintain and update the names of existing or new potential donors?
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good—don’t wait for your database to be perfect for you to begin to use it actively. A Reid Group motto is “implement and improve.” Even as you are adding new names and updating contact information, begin to segment your database according to donor history, donor interests, source of referral and other distinguishing characteristics. You will find that targeting your fund development messages to different types of donors will elicit more response than sending out generic communications.
2. Review the components of your fundraising effort
What are the different components of your fundraising—annual fund, major gifts, planned giving, special events, volunteer opportunities? Which ones have been most effective? Which need more attention, or less? Create some kind of visual of all these opportunities for donors to get involved and use it in your promotional material. Show your donors graphically how they can plug in to your organization’s mission and what the next steps of involvement might be.
3. Contact, contact, contact
I have said before that just as the mantra for real estate is “location, location, location,” the mantra for fundraising is “relationship, relationship, relationship.” Developing and enhancng relationships is the foundation of successful fund development efforts and the key to building relationships is regular, systematic and thoughtful contact. What is your schedule of contact for your different segments of donors? How diversified is that contact—do you include postcards, e-mails, invitations for breakfast or lunch or focus group meetings in your mix along with written communications?
4. Donor-centric communication
In addition to a regular schedule of communication, it’s important to review the content of your communication. Does it focus on your organization and its accomplishments? Or do you focus on the interests of your donors?
“What’s in it for me” is a question your communications need to answer for donors. What is the impact of their contribution? How does their involvement increase the impact of your whole organization?
5. Plan of action
In your process of reviewing these steps to a revitalized fund development program, don’t forget the most important steps—take action. The best fund development program in the world won’t see any results without action. Get in front of your donors. Ask for the visit. Ask for the gift.
Don’t second-guess yourself out of taking action, thinking that it’s too soon or this donor won’t be able to give at this time. You need to hold both an immediate and a long-term perspective with your fundraising activities and have patience, because you will find that some of those that you think will give won’t and some of those that you think will never respond will—in unexpected and generous ways.
Best wishes in 2013 for all your fundraising endeavors!
Posted on November 15th, 2012 by admin in Strategic Planning Comments Off
One of the most important challenges every leader faces is resisting the temptation to stay at status quo and embrace an ongoing renewal process where relationships, systems, and outcomes are all strengthened through processes of renewal and refreshment.
You can lead your organization in an ongoing renewal process by following these five “easy steps:”
1. Care and nurture of staff
This is critical because staff—executive or support—represent the heartbeat of your organization. Sometimes in the rush of day-to-day work, the contributions and needs of staff members can be overlooked. Take time for team-building activities; shared play away from the office, thank-you dinners or celebrations marking significant milestones can strengthen relationships and improve morale and performance. Any investment in building a strong staff always pays dividends.
2. Update your organization’s vision and mission
We’re all tempted to relegate the organization’s mission and vision statements to wall-hangings that remind people of past planning processes. As a leader, you have the opportunity to make these statements real and practical by integrating them into the ongoing life of your organization. For instance, dedicate one month to a focus on vision and mission, and take the first 20 minutes of each meeting to reflect on why your organization exists and where it is headed. In succeeding months, focus on your six to eight core values in this reflection time.
3. Address conflicts while they are still small
Conflict in the workplace is inevitable but many of us are tempted to ignore them, especially if we consider them petty, and hope they’ll go away.
One organization we’ve worked with uses the images of pebble, rock and boulder to remind the staff that conflicts addressed at the pebble level are more easily handled than rocks or boulders.
4. Sharing the work load
Too often, leaders get in the habit of saying yes to more responsibilities and fail to delegate appropriate tasks to gifted colleagues. But “many hands make light work” is true in every organization. You might get stuck because you think if you don’t do it, it won’t get done right. Through effective coaching and mentoring, major work responsibilities can be shared without compromising high performance.
5. Think outside the box
Sometimes even very successful organizations can get in a rut of doing the same things over and over. After all, they work and yield positive results. But the most effective organizations are those that name changing needs, identify new approaches to meet those needs, and model a both/and spirit in the organization: both focus on the tried and true and innovate with new approaches that meet emerging needs.
These are five steps we’ve learned from working with organizations over the years. What are your strategies for renewing your organization?
Posted on October 22nd, 2012 by admin in Uncategorized Comments Off
We’re in the last quarter of the year—its’ time for an end of the year check on your organization’s communication and fund development plan.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
End of the year solicitations: the holiday season is a fruitful time to contact donors for year-end gifts, and not just because of the potential tax benefits they might accrue. The holidays are a time for reflecting on and giving thanks for the blessings people have experienced. Ask your donors to consider making a gift, ideally a multi-year gift, in celebration and thanksgiving for a loved one’s life. Remind them of the option of remembering your organization in their will, so that they can continue to support your good work.
Update your database: A truly never ending task. As you prepare your end of the year solicitation, make sure you have all the latest information in your database, including donor contact information, important donor dates (e.g. birthdays, anniversaries, etc.), solicitations they have responded to, and history of giving levels. Do an analysis of your various fundraising activities during the year and compare it with previous years. This will set you up for preparing your strategic communication and fund development plan for the coming year.
Planning for 2013: This starts with reviewing 2012. What has worked that you want to continue? What has outlived its usefulness or requires a transfusion or overhaul? What are the key learnings and ideas that you want to introduce in the 2013?
The last quarter of the year is a time for looking back and looking forward—both for your donors and for your organization itself. Make the most of it, and your organization will reap the reward in 2013 and beyond.
Posted on October 1st, 2012 by admin in Uncategorized Comments Off
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
I can’t tell you exactly how it started but lots of little things built up over the years until at some point my wife and I weren’t talking to my brother and his wife. There were multiple factors that just reinforced the rift. There was the fact that we are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. And that surprise birthday party they had for my brother where we discovered at the last minute that our sons weren’t invited, while all their children were. This was followed by an disturbing interaction at the wedding of their daughter, which I only learned about afterwards, where my wife was confronted by my sister in law. And the family wedding when we were all placed at the same table, but I really wanted to talk to one of my nephews so I just moved our place cards to his table. And that crack my sister-in-law made about our granddaughter coming from a “broken home” because her mother and my son weren’t married.
You get the idea. Lots of things piled up until it was just easier not to interact at all. The situation over time impacted the whole family to the point that one of my nephews earlier this year said to one one of my other brothers: “What is going on between two of the other brothers and said, “You’ve got to fix this!”
You would think that “fixing it” would be right up my alley. After all, I help people navigate conflict in relationships for a living. But here I was, caught up in a conflict and trying to navigate supporting my wife, while attempting to address the issues. First my wife and I requested to meet with my brother and his wife. We met twice for more than seven hours with very little to show for it. We inquired about engaging a third party, but that was not accepted. After letting it sit for a few months I attempted to convene a sibling meeting that never came to pass.
Conflict dredges up a lot of emotion, there’s no doubt about it. I have found conflict with family members can be especially confusing. This confusion prevented me from taking action sooner. Unfortunately, most of us prefer not to deal with those emotions, so we either ignore them or withdraw to our defensive corners and demonize “the other.”
How can we move beyond this defensive posture? The first step in peacemaking is making peace with ourselves. As Richard Rohr says, either we transform our pain or we transmit it. If we can acknowledge our own hurts and come to understand them, we can begin to address the conflict from a less reactive position.
We need reflect upon or values and to call ourselves to “play bigger.” We need to move out of our corner and into the space between ourselves and the other. Making the first move may not feel very good—after all, “they” probably “started it”—but it needs to happen. C’mon—be the bigger person.
With my brother, I realized that neither of us is getting any younger and I didn’t want to carry all this to the grave. So I made the first move, and we started the long process of rebuilding the relationship. I found that it was easier for us to talk about difficult things if we did so while engaged in some other activity, so we talked while we walked along a popular lake trail. We’re a long way from complete ease with each other, but we’re a long way from total estrangement too.
Difficult emotional situations are not only painful, they are confusing. With all the feelings swirling around, it can be difficult to find a way forward. This is where the involvement of a mediator can be very beneficial. A mediator can help to establish a middle ground, a DMZ, where the parties can safely engage with each other.
Nothing much meaningful can happen, though, until we are willing to acknowledge, confront and transform our own pain and lower our own defensive shields. There will be no peace until it begins with me.
Posted on September 13th, 2012 by admin in Uncategorized Comments Off
In more than thirty years of working with people in the helping profession, we have seen how many “helpers” are better at taking care of other people’s needs, rather than taking care of their own. This is particularly true of those who manage a team or who have to moderate conflict-filled relationships.
Working with difficult conversations, stressful situations, challenging personalities and strong emotions is not easy and can take a lot of energy. Whether as a counselor, an organizational leader, or a facilitator, conflict managers are subjected to repeated demands on their finite resources of time, attention and ability. Whether you are a leader, counselor or facilitator, you must respond to changing circumstances repeatedly.
Where do you get your energy? How do you renew your energy? Practices of self-care and renewal are not selfish. Instead, they are necessary to replenish our energy for the work of bridging divides and working toward mutual agreement.
Practices of Renewal:
Below is a short list of possible practices that we have personally experienced or seen as productive in the lives of others. We offer them to stimulate your own thinking about practices that will work for you.
- Reading–making time to read material that supports your learning and growth as a human being.
- Reflection–do you take time to reflect on the events of the day? When was the last time you stopped to take in a sunrise or moonrise? How regularly do you make time for silence?
- Writing/journaling—do you have a book or notebook that you can jot down your thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams as you notice them from day to day?
- Music–what kind of music do you like? How consistently do you make time to be still and let the music speak to your spirit?
- Meditation/mindfulness practice—practices of attention can be relaxing and refreshing. Following the rhythm of your breathing in quiet or in activity can be very rejuvenating.
- Biking, hiking and other enjoyable forms of exercise.
- Time spent in nature—going for a walk, sitting by a lake or river or pulling off the road to catch a viewpoint—any of these can be restful and restorative times.
- What’s missing? What other ways do you/might you renew your energy?
Consistent use of self-care practices, like the conscious attention to your own attitudes and reactions toward conflict, enhance both your personal and professional development. They are also a vital ingredient in successful conflict management. When any of these is out of balance, it takes more energy for us simply to get through the day. When these are in balance, we have much more energy to bring to life’s daily tasks and our roles as leaders.
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