Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lead People

Earlier this month I shared some insights from Lee Cockerill, a former Disney executive and author of Creating Magic about the difference between staff training and staff development. I wanted to share some additional notes that should get you thinking more about how we can only lead when we connect with people - Lee says leadership is a “contact sport”.

· A leader’s job is… to do what has to be done, when it has to be done, in the way it should be done, whether you like it or not and whether others like it or not.
· Everyone is important – tell them that they are!
· Your role as a leader is to create an environment where employees want to come to work
· The right people, well-trained, require fewer managers
· Leadership is a contact sport
· Trust is the key
· Know what you stand for and what you won’t stand for.
· Bond early with new employees (and board members?)
· Be brave enough to have the hard conversations – employees build trust with managers who give them feedback on the good and bad and are willing to help them get better.
· Empower the front line with the financial and common sense authority to serve the customer
· If you can’t trust your people to do the right thing, YOU have hired and trained the wrong people in the wrong way
· Start the day by making rounds with your people

His top 3 priorities around getting the right people in the right roles:
1) Crisp systems to recruit and hire staff. Use on-line questionnaires and view videos before completing applications. You can’t train people to have good attitudes and be nice and happy.
2) Training and development of staff – train and test before you “turn them loose on customers”. Use staff managers as training resources in their areas of expertise.
3) Ensure that every employee knows they matter

Think about how you grow people in four areas of competency:
· Technical – skills needed to do their specific job
· Management – controlling, getting things done
· Technological – creating leverage and possibilities
· Leadership – Building trust, being a person people want to work for, challenging and holding accountable.

Leadership > Staff Environment > Customer Satisfaction > Business Results … The customer does not come first: Leadership comes first. This is the way that ensures excellent customer service which translateds to improved results.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Staff Training does not equal Staff Development (Part I)

I am a huge fan of the team at the Foellinger Foundation in Fort Wayne (unfortunately, they fund in Allen County only). They recognize that it takes strong nonprofit organizations to deliver quality programs and to create meaningful results. Their refrain is that they support effective organizations who are “Well-managed, Mission Driven, Results-Oriented”.  To that end, Foellinger Foundation brings in a nationally known speaker each year to present to an opening session audience of 100’s of board and staff leaders followed by a workshop that delves deeper into the subject – but that’s not all.  Following the workshop, they offer the opportunity for many organizations to receive a grant to implement the ideas and strategies that have just been explored.

This year their guest was Lee Cockerell, former Disney executive and author of the book “Creating Magic”. This week, I wanted to focus on his theme that stood out most for me – “Staff Training is not the same as Staff Development”. Lee highlighted that these concepts tend to be lumped together, even thought of as the same thing. He emphasized that they are dramatically different and how your organization approaches them could determine whether you are creating “Disney Memories” or Delta Airlines Baggage embarrassments.

He explained that staff training is what you do to equip and prepare a staff member to successfully and effectively perform the basics of their job and then keeping them current on the skills needed to perform the role. Small nonprofits, in particular, struggle with this aspect of appropriate staff training and will sometimes wear “we do on-the-job training” as a badge of honor. Lee noted that at Disney, no employee (cast member) is turned loose on the public until they have been trained and tested on it.  What would it take for your organization to excel at equipping your people to do their current jobs well?

In contrast, Mr. Cockerell shared that staff development is individualized, one-to-one, focused on potential (expanding their job or on preparing for another role), and usually manager initiated. In too many organizations, nonprofit and business, this thinking is relegated to an annual performance evaluation exercise that often results in employee’s feeling that their supervisor doesn’t care enough about them to put real effort into helping them improve. Lee emphasized that many of his best relationships are with former employees that he was candid with about their weaknesses and how they could improve. What would it take for your organization to excel at preparing your people for additional opportunities or increased impact?

Share your insights.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cross-sector Hiring – Will It Become More Common?

I was recently meeting with the successful, long-term CEO of a large nonprofit and we were discussing the increasing numbers of people who have had careers in business that are now interested in working in the nonprofit sector. I commented that on several of the recent searches that I have supported, more than half of the prospects were from the business sector and had little nonprofit experience beyond serving on a board for a few years.

He shared an exchange with me that he recently had with a successful corporate executive (I am paraphrasing):

Corporate Executive to Nonprofit CEO: I have been successful in business and now I think I am ready to lead a nonprofit - to give back to the community and really make a difference. How do I go about getting a job in the nonprofit sector?

Nonprofit CEO to Corporate Executive: I’ve been very successful in my work as well. How likely are you to hire me to work as an executive in your company?

Corporate Executive to Nonprofit CEO: Not to be critical, but you don’t have any experience in our business and there are many people in our company and in our field that we would consider ahead of you.

Nonprofit CEO to Corporate Executive: Ditto.

Personally, I think the interest of Boomers in business roles moving into nonprofit leadership roles is a very positive thing and could ultimately help in filling both leadership and skill gaps as the older edge of the boomer generation retires. At the same time, there are incredible differences around scale, budgets, organizational culture, multiple stakeholders, and the nonprofit structure that are not an easy transition for many business people.

These business leaders need a path to prepare themselves for these roles. The current route would be to serve on nonprofit boards, volunteer, and get involved in giving back while you are still working in the business sector to develop enough of a network and reputation in the nonprofit segment you aspire to work in that your resume is a match for nonprofit role.

Please share your thoughts.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Four Ways to Remove a Board Member

Once again Jan Masaoka from the Blue Avocado offers interesting thoughts on a difficult board issue. I have summarized this great article below and encourage you to share the link with your Board Chair and Governance Committee. Let us know what you think about this topic.


Occasionally, a board member needs to be removed from the board. In some cases, a conflict of interest or unethical behavior may be grounds to remove an individual from the board. In other cases, the behavior of a board member may become so obstructive that the board is prevented from functioning effectively.

The best boards often have strongly felt disagreements and heated arguments. Challenging groupthink and arguing for an unpopular viewpoint are not grounds for getting rid of a board member. But if a board member consistently disrupts meetings or is otherwise destructive and demoralizing, it may be appropriate to consider removing the individual from the board:

1. Personal intervention
One-to-one intervention by the board president or other board leadership is a less formal solution to managing problem board members. If a board member has failed to attend several meetings in a row, or has become an impediment to the board's work, the board president can meet informally with the board member in question. The conversation can occur in person or on the telephone; the board president can specifically request a resignation.

2. Leave of absence
Make it possible for individuals to take a leave of absence from the board if they have health, work, or other reasons why they cannot participate fully during the current term. A board member can take, for instance, a 6-month "disability leave," or a 3-month "busy with new job" leave.

3. Term limits
Most boards (62%) establish not only board terms but also term limits, such as two-year terms with a limit of three consecutive terms. In such a situation, a board member cannot serve more than six consecutive years without a "break" from the board. After a year off the board, an individual can once again be elected to the board.

4. Impeachment
Your organizational by-laws should describe a process by which a board member can be removed by vote, if necessary. For example, in some organizations a board member can be removed by a two-thirds vote of the board at a regularly scheduled board meeting. If you do not have a way to vote out board members, add this now to the bylaws, not when there's "a problem with a first and last name."


Read the full article.