Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The SMART Model for Setting Goals

Guest Blogger, Amy Maranowicz:  How to set valuable goals for the New Year head

It is a new year and time to think about the goals for your organization, yourself and your team.

Myth: We think our employees are high performers and intelligent enough to identify and achieve their goals without any input from me.

Reality: Survey’s consistently tell us they want their manager to:
  • Assign the right work, aligned with their capabilities
  • Provide clarity about work and goal expectations
  • Set workable goals
  • Provide time to achieve their goals
  • Provide feedback/motivation on their progress
Creating SMART Goals is one way to meet both employee needs and accomplish your objectives for your non-profit.

What is a SMART Goal: Smart Goals describe what is to be accomplished - the value the effort of the goal will achieve. They are concrete statements that refer to the deliverables or outcomes as well as the timeframes to accomplish them. 

Flow of Goal Formation: Goals should be cascaded down throughout the organization. Employee goals should flow into the broader goal for the department/organization. Your employee’s goals should be different from your goals. 

Examples of Goal Categories:
       New Opportunity
       New Program
       Evaluation of Existing Programs/Practices to an Enhanced Level  

Factors to Consider:
       Typically 3 – 5 goals per year
       Value the goal provides
       Level of effort required to meet the goals
       Amount of day-to-day work the employee already has
       Scope of work they are currently doing
       Potentially breaking down into sub-goals
       Goals should be equivalent across your team

Testing the Goal You Wrote: Use the SMART process to confirm that the goal you wrote for your employee fits all the criteria.

 - Amy Maranowicz, Organizational Development and Training Manager

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Future of Doing More with Less

For years the Nonprofit Sector has lived by the mantra – Doing More with Less. In order to achieve this, we have paid staff below-market wages for their education and experience, short-changed capacity and administration, and gone without professional development. Amazingly, organizations and programs have continued to meet community needs and attract new employees. We have become strangely efficient in delivering services and programs.

Unfortunately, we are now in the midst of the Great Recession. Businesses now must make the kinds of cuts the nonprofit sector was asked to make long ago. They are reducing corporate entertainment, cutting staff and wages and consolidating offices. For the Nonprofit Sector, there are very few cuts left to make, and the needs are growing at a newly alarming pace. The world will not return to the same state as in 2007.  Many things will be different moving forward and the sector will need to adapt, not remain the same.

The old ways of doing things most probably will not work as society and the economy readjust to new realities. So how do we move forward? By letting go.

Think of it as a rock climber. For each move up the rock, one point of connection with the wall must be given up in order to advance. A hand or a foot must release and move. A choice must be made to leave the safety of a secure connection in order to gain a better hold, move upward and reach the ultimate goal. If a climber never wanted to let something go, she would never get to the top.

In order to adapt and embrace the new future, some programs, business models and even some workers, will need to change. We will need to release one foothold in order to gain a new stance.

Making tough choices has not traditionally been a “strength” for a sector based in compassion and service to others. After all, we serve customers with no obvious revenue model. However, in order to survive and eventually thrive, there may be a time for doing less with less. We cannot expect that staff can continue to take on more and more tasks each year. Or that we can continue to achieve efficiencies and reach program excellence while cheating support systems.

There are a couple of styles in decision making. I have a friend who made all his big decisions for an entire year using a Magic 8-Ball. He would ask the ball a question – such as, should I take a job in Paris? – and wait for fate to decide with responses such as “outlook good” or “ask again later.” If you’re trying to decide what to serve for lunch at your next board meeting, the Magic 8-Ball might be the right approach. However, if your organization needs to decide which programs to keep or whether to build a new facility, the Magic 8-Ball is a not a practical solution. 

Another alternative is a clearly defined decision-making model to help make choices that are in the best interests of an entity and that meet the organizational and ethical considerations to move the group forward. Agreeing to leave all options on the table, no matter how unsavory, must be a starting point. There are many models out there, and each organization needs to define and incorporate its own. But delaying decisions, or deciding not to decide, will be more damaging than making a tough choice and moving forward. Even if you discover another alternative as time moves forward, you can always alter course and take what the decision provided in terms of learning.

There are people involved in all of our work and lives are at stake. That makes making solid, good, tough decisions even more imperative.

"People don’t resist change, they resist being changed." – Peter Drucker

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Blues Buster!: Pamela Hawley adds a little levity

This installment is part of our weekly Blues Buster! series - funny, inspirational and real-life stories from within the nonprofit sector.  You can see all of our Blues Busters! on our website.

Pamela energetically answers the phone at 8:30am on a Monday morning. As she describes her most memorable moments in nonprofit work, she shares her views on life and leadership. In a nutshell; keep it in perspective, and don’t forget to laugh.

As Pamela relates, this view was shaped in part by her Father. She vividly recalls a painful time when her Dad turned to her and asked, “Pamela, what will it matter in 10 years?”

In 10 years, she thought? In 10 years we will have forgotten most of these small challenges, in 10 years what I’m working on today may not even be an issue.

Her father wisely reminded her that the significance of a current problem can suddenly be dwarfed by taking the long view. Focusing on doing our best and loving others are the main areas he recommended she focus on. Too often these important values are forgotten in the stress of a single moment.

It was in another tense moment, that Pamela brought her team out of the trenches with this perspective.

“We were in a team meeting, talking about a big marketing issue we’d been facing for months, and the team started to get really low,” Pamela describes.

Team members were exhausted and starting to become hopeless. Pamela describes how the marketing arrangment had been plaguing them for months and – point was – there was nothing they could do. They had done all they could, and it was time to patiently wait. The talking grew more and more frustrated, more and more down.

Pamela took some time to think about this situation and the low tone. In the afternoon, she asked the team for some time. As they turned her desks towards her, she thought of her father’s wise words…and the voice of Mitza Ditz.

Who’s Mitza?

A former inspirational boss? No. A spiritual guru? No.

Mitza Ditz is one of many characters Pamela recreates on stage. That’s right, this go-get-em CEO is also a Groundlings trained improviser. This particular character is a somewhat empty-headed administrative assistant who is gunning for a CEO position.

You can imagine the momentary shock the team felt when the high-pitched, squeaky and slightly New York voice of Mitza cut into the tension, coming out of their CEO, “You know guys, what will it matter in 10 years? Cuz you know there’s only so much you can do…and then you can’t do anymore!” A few smiles and chuckles filled the room. I might as well end up playing all slots casino or any other online casino.

Mitza continued through a rip-roaring pep-talk and then started bringing in friends, too. Pamela switched to another character – a 60 year old rough and tough truck driver named Shel Morgut.

“All right team,” Pamela chortled in a rough, baritone trucker voice, “we gotta keep driving…the most important thing is that donut at the next rest stop. Keep it in perspective!” Soon enough, the team had broken through their hopelessness and was, in fact, laughing out loud.

Pamela describes her motivations in that moment, “You know a good leader is someone who can focus on the team. They have a pulse, a read on how they are feeling. It’s someone who can implement the vision while looking internally at what’s going on inside people. You need to bring levity – both inside and outside.”

Unfortunately for me, I don’t have a boss who does stand-up in the middle of team meetings. And I’m thinking you might not either. But Pamela has offered a solution.

A special delivery just for Blues Buster readers, here’s an inspirational message from Pamela…I mean Ditza…I mean Mitza. May this help you to keep it in perspective…and have a laugh.

Pamela Hawley is the founder and CEO of UniversalGiving™, a web-based marketplace that helps people give and volunteer with the top-performing, vetted organizations all over the world. You can learn more about UniversalGiving at, and more about Pamela Hawley on her blog, Living and Giving.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The 4-Step Performance Coaching Conversation

When organizations are at their best, people clearly understand and are committed to their unique role in helping the company achieve its objectives. Understanding how their work fits with the work of others in the organization gives people a sense of connection and significance. This role clarity results from dialogue and discussion.

If you are finding an employee is not meeting your expectations you may need to provide them more clarity through a performance improvement coaching conversation. A performance improvement coaching conversation is the opportunity to make the future distinct from the past. You may be looking for a shift of thinking, behavior or result from your employee. Your opportunity and role in coaching conversations is to help the employee know your expectations.

How can you approach a coaching conversation?

  1. Create a Positive Experience: create an environment that looks forward, strive for solutions rather than beating down the past.
  2. Share Your Observations and Expectations: to clarify what you have observed from work output and demonstrated employee behaviors, speak to what you have observed and the specific outcomes
  3. Strive: for two-way communication with the employee and begin talking about they can make successful changes.
  4. Invite and Include: the employee to help you find a resolution to the problem and increase the probability that they will be invested in making the changes you are asking of them.

Example in Action:

  • Create a Positive Experience: "I can tell you that you are highly motivated and want to contribute your efforts towards our organization’s success."
  • Share Your Observations and Expectations: "I need to share with you area that I have observed that has the opportunity for better contributions. Is now a good time for me to share this with you?  I have observed that the project status report you are required to complete on a weekly basis by Friday is not always completed on Fridays. It is important to get this report from you on Fridays because the program team uses this data to make decisions about volunteer coordination and timing for the following week. By receiving this report Monday or Tuesday they lose 1 – 2 days in the week by not efficiently allocating program resources resulting in overstaffing on one are of the program over another.
  • Strive: "I want to understand what this looks like from your perspective."
  • Invite: "Why do you think you are unable to complete the reports by Friday? What gets in your way? Is it a question of quantity, quality, time or resources? How can I help you?"
  • Include: "How do you plan to start getting these reports completed by Friday?"
 - Amy Maranowicz, Organizational Development and Training Manager