The grass isn’t always greener in the nonprofit world. Only 40 percent of communications directors describe the working relationship with their executive director and teams as “excellent” according to the 2016 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report. So what gets in the way? It is not hard to believe that the report found goals, objectives and how these are communicated often vary greatly between communications directors, development directors and executive directors.
The report, spearheaded by Kivi Leroux Miller, an award-winning author, trainer, and advisor to nonprofit marketing and fundraising professionals, points out six crucial pieces that get in the way of working relationships, including:
- Competing priorities
- Excessive management oversight
- Lack of management direction
- Wasteful meetings
- Lack of clear process and procedures
- Lack of coordination with co-workers
Here’s my take on the list:
Having competing priorities has frustration and burn out written all over it. I’m already stressed just saying the words “competing priorities.”
Excessive management oversight
Let team members do their jobs. Provide the right support and tools. Checking in on projects is fine. Helping problem-solve is too. But for heaven’s sake, let them do their jobs. And if they are not up to the task then provide the appropriate professional training and mentorship.
Lack of management direction
Share the vision, goals and objectives for projects or the organization. There is no “I” in team.
We’re all busy. Take time to actually plan meetings with clear action items. If you have an agenda that is more than one page, throw it away and start over. If you can keep a meeting to 30-minutes, do so and only have three – five items on your agenda. I also highly recommend getting rid of the hour-long meeting and booking a 45-minute meeting or even only meeting every other week rather than weekly.
Lack of clear process and procedures
You know that overblown agenda mentioned above? Having clear action items with team assignment roles, project descriptions, review processes and deadlines will save team members from reaching for Tylenol. I am always in favor of project timelines in Excel or Google Documents to help manage projects.
Lack of coordination with co-workers
One word: integration. Lack of coordination may mean management has set up a competitive environment. This might work well for a sales-driven environment but spells disaster for all others. See Lack of Management Direction above.
The bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter whether you work for a nonprofit or for profit organization. These are challenges faced in both. Building successful working relationships takes time, a lot of work and communication.