What’s Different About NPOs?

Consider several questions posed to the group of 30 executive directors, managers, and staff participating in the Nonprofit Supervision & Management Series at ONEplace@KPL:

Is managing in a nonprofit organization (NPO) different than managing in the private sector? Is it different than managing in a governmental organization? If so, what is different?

The major difference cited by the course participants was: not being able to use financial rewards (raises, bonuses, stock options, etc.) as an incentive for performance or as a reward for outstanding results.  While that is true for most NPOs and is well understood by those working in the nonprofit sector, it makes me wonder if there are other significant differences – is managing simply managing or is it really different from one sector to another?

What do you think? What is your experience? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Order your copy of “The 8 Essential Skills for Supervisors & Managers” today at Amazon.com.

New Toys & Tech

Skill 1 – Breaking in a New Tool

I’ve long been a fan of David Allen’s approach to Managing Yourself – what I call Skill 1. And since I’m also a long time fan of new technological tools (OK – toys) I keep an eye out for ways to streamline my own self-management “system.” A key ingredient to any effective system is to have a comprehensive overview of all the things on my plate (my commitments, projects, and next actions) and all the things on my radar screen (things I’d like to have, learn, or do at some point, just not right now).

Once AT&T was able to offer service in our semi-rural area we jumped at the chance to switch from our Palm TXs to iPhones after making sure the iPhone could sync with MS Outlook. I checked the Internet to see what ad-ons might be available to help manage and sort Tasks (the iPhone operating system ignores Outlook Tasks). It looks like 2Do from Guided Ways Technology may well be the answer, but we’ll see as we go along.

Being effective at Skill 1 means always looking for ways to improve your personal management system. Fortunately, for me that means trying out new toys and tech. Unfortunately, it takes time and mindshare to do that.

What self-management tools are you using these days?  Drop by and leave a comment; I’d love to know what you use and what works for you.

For more information on Skill 1 and Managing Yourself, order your copy of “The 8 Essential Skills” from Amazon.com. today! You’ll be glad you did!

And while you’re at it, stop by our web site and learn more about our approach to Personal Productivity.

70% of Our Time

70% of the time we are awake we’re engaged in some form of communication. According to a study by Air University (the U.S. Air Force’s Leadership Center) our communication time breaks down like this:

  • 10% writing
  • 15% reading
  • 30% talking
  • 45% listening

Your exact mix may be somewhat different than mine, but the simple fact is we spend a huge portion of our day communicating. Perhaps you are a great communicator; one of those people who has an innate talent for communicating with your coworkers and customers. I’ve actually met a few, but very few if I’m honest about it. As a very clear Extravert, I’ve had to work diligently at my Listening skills. Others need help to improve their Writing skills. Still others break out in a cold sweat at the thought of gettiing up and speaking to a group, which is something I am good at and enjoy. Every one of us communicates a lot and yet very few of us are great at all aspects of communciation.

What do you need to work on? What portion of your communication is less effective than it could be or should be?

For ideas, tips, and suggestions on how to improve your communication skills, order your copy of “The 8 Essential Skills” today at Amazon.com. You’ll be glad you did (and so will those you communicate with!)

Employers and Employees

The Kalamazoo Gazette on Friday, September 10, contained a Viewpoint by Karen Momber titled “In today’s work environment, employers hold all the cards.” In her Viewpoint, the writer paints a thoroughly negative image of employers as nasty, mean-spirited, scheming, abusive, unethical, and downright evil. I have no idea where Ms. Momber has worked in her career, but it certainly has not been in any place I’ve ever seen.

With more than 20 years of working, teaching, training, and advising hundreds of organizations and thousands of managers all over the U.S., I have found the vast majority of employers and managers to be the opposite of Ms. Momber’s description. Sure, there are lousy jobs and crummy managers. Some actually are jerks. Unfortunately, the writer uses a broad, all-encompassing brush to paint a wholesale indictment of business organizations and those who own and manage them. If personal experience has informed her views, she has my sympathy. But I believe the portrait she depicts represents a tiny fraction of the private sector.

The vast majority of managers understand that building and running a business means generating a reasonable profit over the long term. Otherwise, the business simply disappears, taking everyone’s job with it. They also understand that treating employees well yields much better results than treating them poorly. Employees who are treated as Ms. Momber describes will be minimally productive and will leave the first chance they get. If enough employees do this, the business ultimately disappears.

In any event (and thankfully!), organizations and managers that embrace “The 8 Essential Skills” don’t look anything like Ms. Momber’s Viewpoint. In the unfortunate event that your employer or manager does look like she describes, buy a copy of the book and leave it on their desk. You’ll be glad you did!

Order your copy today at Amazon.com

A Delightful Afternoon

I recently had the opportunity to speak to the faculty and staff at the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Grand Valley State University as part of their fall Kickoff gathering. My topic was “Maximize Your Productivity” which of course relates to Skill 1 – Managing Yourself; the first of The 8 Essential Skills.

A university campus at the beginning of a new academic year is one of the most exciting, uplifting, and positive places I can think of. I once again felt the atmosphere of possibility as I watched students move purposefully among the buildings and greenspace. GVSU is celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year and the sense of innovation and enthusiasm permeates the campus. I’m looking forward to helping the Brooks College as a part of their staff development program. Thanks to friend, colleague, editor, and GVSU alumna Jan Andersen of Beyond Words, Inc. I get a chance to return to a college campus for a portion of each month. Pretty good stuff!

A Bit More Buzz

Writing The 8 Essential Skills was certainly an adventure. Producing and promoting the book is turning out to be another adventure. Colleague, coach, and friend Mary Jo Asmus recently interviewed me about the book and posted portions of the interview on her blog. Wally Bock, who writes the always-interesting Three Star Leadership blog, is a regular reader of Mary Jo’s writings, spotted the reference and requested a review copy. Now we’ll see what Wally thinks.

An Irritating Guy!

Communications Stories from the Trenches – III

Once upon a time I worked with a colleague – we’ll call him Ralph – who seemed to have a great deal of difficulty in looking directly at me when we talked. The moment I walked into his office he stood up and did not sit down until our conversation was finished. At first I thought it was me. Then I discovered he did that with everyone. He also had an irritating habit of jingling his keys or the change in his pocket when anyone was speaking to him. He would stop that whenever he was talking. And since we had daily interaction with him, these annoying habits became a form of subtle torture for some of us, to the point where several of his coworkers went out of their way to avoid having to deal with him. He was a clear Introvert although his senior level required him to speak regularly in staff and divisional management meetings and he was reasonably effective in that setting.

Ralph was either completely unaware of the effect his irritating habits had on others, or he didn’t care, or he was at least somewhat aware at some level and couldn’t help himself. I don’t know; I’m not a psychologist (and I don’t play one on television). I do know that his nonverbal messages seemed pretty clear to most of us:

  • Ralph was clearly uncomfortable in face-to-face, one-on-one communication situations.
  • He was not paying much attention to what we were saying
  • He would like us to leave as quickly as possible

To say the least, Ralph was a poor listener. He violated most of the basic rules of effective listening. What do good listeners do?:

  • They maintain eye contact with the other person
  • They show non-verbal interest in what the other person is saying; they nod occasionally, have an open expression, and smile if it’s appropriate
  • They avoid fidgeting, crossing their arms and legs, looking at their watch. Ralph violated this one constantly.
  • They ask questions to clarify what the other person is saying
  • They repeat or paraphrase the other person’s message to check for understanding
  • They are patient and allow the other person to make their point fully

How are your listening skills these days?

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