Back to Blog
In the purpose-driven space, sustainability is a catch-all phrase for planetary, social, environmental, and economic well-being in communities, nations, and in the world. But how many in this space are actually financially and organizationally sustainable?
Doing good, being good is a good mission. But being good but not being smart is deadly and bordering on hypocrisy. To become a truly sustainable force in the world, your organization must walk the talk and talk the walk.
One organization is a one-funder business model. Another one has one staff and hundreds of volunteers trying to get to another impact goal. Another organization is penny-pinching on much-needed reorganization costs just because the Board didn't think they need it. Another one is simply mired with employee issues that do not reflect well on their values statements.
In this circuit, the holier-than-thou attitude is almost always invoked. Yet, this complacent, self-congratulation is partly the reason for why the same sector proclaiming sustainability isn't sustainable either.
Best practices are out there. When corporates and profit-seeking ventures are hit hard on sustainability, the sector must face the same music and should be held accountable for it.
Back to Blog
I heard this comment a few years ago, from a supervisor commenting on an employee having "too much fun" outside work, vacations in Mexico and booking up more in the next few months. The supervisor saw a rejuvenated, well-tanned staff beaming with optimism and joie de vivre. What's wrong with that picture?
What this means I conjure is that too much fun outside work means there is misery in the workplace for the supervisor, the staff, and probably within the department. God knows who else is not having fun there.
On the other hand, this statement should be read backwards. Nobody now wants drudgery in work. If you are miserable in your job and continue to stay on for the paycheck, your wasting your life, which has a limit. Statistically speaking, Canadians live up to only a certain age and then life goes downhill. And if you're a slaving as a supervisor, that's not supervision and not management, either.
For those who are refugees from working in organizations like me, I do not miss this arrangement. I'd rather be doing something that feeds my soul, puts money in my wallet, and lets me sleep good at night.
The future of work is all about fun, flexibility, and autonomy in the workplace. There is a high degree of challenge and complexity but also independence and the ability to use one's judgement in the interests of the organization. The reason people quit their job is because of their boss not because of the job itself.
The staff resigned after a few months. No surprise there.
If you're having too much fun at work, that is a good sign. How much is too much is up to you!
Back to Blog
In the on-purpose world, we still have organizations stuck in the twentieth-century thinking that the public donors do not want to pay for administration. Websites of many of these organizations are proud of declaring that they only get 10% for administration, the rest to core programming. Many think that it's larceny to allocate more than 10% or to some extent bad practice to ask for more.
What we can glean from this based on leadership and management perspective, these organizations have no
- capability of building up and strengthening their core processes
- capability of securing and retaining great talent- a must to survive and thrive!
- capability to build strategically for the future
- see themselves as sacrificial conduits with their begging bowls every year
- always uncertain, tentative and highly disrupted by the larger forces around them
- cannot stand up for their principles, values, and commitments
They maybe good with their programs but they're not sustainable and even effective in the long run. If you're not taking care of your own house, how can you be the most charitable for all?
Don't compromise your organizational sufficiency in the altar of public legitimacy.
At the next blog, I will share some of the strategies to get away from the 10% group.
Back to Blog
I was in the physical therapist' office a few weeks ago. I was feeling something in the wrist. He said that it might be connected with the neck. Aha! I never thought about that connection. Same happens while in the doctor's office, some tingling in my toe, had a connection in other parts of the body.
The body is one big connected organ. I never thought that it could be as latent as that. But your organization, whether it's a two-person or a large enterprise with subdivisions operating beyond borders, is also interconnected and must work synergistically.
A corporate strategy has to trickle down to individual departments, staff, and even to the janitor. How and why things are moving in a 'certain' direction should be and can be answered by any staff you meet in the corridor. Failure to communicate this very important piece leaves room for ambiguity and frustration.
I was in a phone call a few years ago, talking to a Program Administrator. I inquired about the program advertised in their website. She told me that the program has been rescinded. The new strategy provides the opportunity for them to review what their offering versus what exactly they should doing. A case of 'good to have' versus 'our musts/our unique value.' If I were her boss, I will be very proud of such employee. She cares so much to know and to communicate her knowledge to all the stakeholders concerned. She owns her role.
Are you taking the time to really communicate your grand vision and overall direction to all the people in your organization? Are your employees being a part of your communication strategy?
When everything is well-coordinated, your toes and fingers can do their best job too!
Back to Blog
If leaders are scared, they make stupid decisions.
I'm talking about cost-cutting measures in time of pandemic. If you cut everything that costs money, then you don't know what your financial (and organizational too!) values are.
Stewardship is not about being stingy and operating on costs, it's about operating on value.
Anything that involves increasing resilience and building lasting effects on your customers and constituencies should be nurtured and developed, even in climate of distress and uncertainty. Values-based organization do not operate on fear-based calculations, much less allow values creep.
The best leaders in organizations retain and protect their strongest assets, which are inimitable and very hard to reconstruct. In times of stress, these assets work like magic. They provide the rest and bounce factors for staff and customers to thrive and not just survive.
Cut everything that moves and you're cutting your oxygen source.
Back to Blog
I heard from an executive recently that they are crawling into the changes. This is reference to the transformation they're undergoing in the whole organization.
To justify being slow and sure, that word seems like a good description. But because they have been into the process for more than 5 years, I beg to disagree.
May I submit to you all that if you're crawling into the changes, you might as well shoot yourself in the foot. Being too slow is inimical to the progress you're trying to create, let alone, complete. There are forces that will resist and blocks these changes. Before you know it, you missed lots of opportunities to showcase the results of those changes.
The pace of change is as important as the vision for the change. Maybe your process needs a revisit. Maybe you don't have the resources or insist that what you have is enough. Maybe your stakeholders do not have a buy-in to the specifics-how their jobs and current positions will be affected. Maybe the readiness for change isn't there yet or not cultivated at all. Or maybe executives believe that to be slow guarantees success!
Crawling sounds like a defeat to me. If you feel like the changes are way too slow, you have missed an important element-the people! The people will make and break your transition. If you can, work backwards, put more time and process to getting them onboard so you can speed through and not crawl into the enemy's lair!
Back to Blog
I hear from a lot of managers how their organizations want to achieve too much with a fraction of its real costs and get staff to do more than they can possibly accomplish.
The disease-to-overachieve that permeates in many organizational cultures is strong where the need is irrational leading to unhealthy decision options. Manager complain of longer work hours, additional responsibilities without supports, resources, and systems alignment, and expectations to be easy on the budget.
Overachievement comes from fear.
Fear of not measuring up;
Fear of failure;
Fear of being not being seen as a strong and viable entity;
Fear of not being on par with your constituencies and networks;
This fear is overcompensated by absorbing too much, too soon, and with too little. Scope creep becomes an accepted norm. Resisting this in a culture where more is great is near suicidal and would cost a career loss.
I heard some time ago from a local town person that their local township is trying to be what it's not. People in the inside can't see this clearly.
If you're caught up in the whirlwind of overachievement, ask your leaders, the following questions:
1. What exactly they want to remove off your plate so you can get things done on more important things?
2. What supports and resources are available right now to achieve these goals?
3. What goals are good-to-have and what are the musts?
4. What activities generate the best outcomes?
These questions can lead to more realization and quite frankly, a light in the tunnel.
Back to Blog
Employee engagement as based on research is defined as "asking for the employee to go the extra mile. " This is different from all the motivation, commitment, loyalty, and other positive feelings associated with the organizational affiliation of employees.
When it's about asking employees to go the extra mile, what does it really mean?
The ugly side of this 'engagement' as some critics say could be just a fad again, is the fact that how much more can we ask employees to go beyond and above their current performance.
Is this something that can only lead to more burnout, frustration, anxiety, and general negative disposition in the workplace?
Engagement linked to clear strategic objectives for the organization is a sound approach. However, going the extra mile when not ill-defined, ill-conceived, and not consistently measured can lead down a path of irreversible damage for the organization.
Don't let your HR tell you what employee engagement is. Everyone in the organization should decide what's its all about and whether there are clear metrics attached to organizational success objectives that you can leverage to make it purposeful in your organization.
Back to Blog
I was teaching a Management Course for the last four weeks now and everyone agreed that we could do better in the area of active listening.
Listening is a under-developed skill for the majority of professionals and managers.
We always have to have a say when simply the answer can be found in listening with intentions.
80% of conflicts and misunderstandings can be prevented and resolved by simply listening with the heart and mind together.
We do not have to win every argument or be the last one to say something marvelous. We don't need to be 'the smartest person' in the room either.
We don't need to boost our ego for senseless showmanship.
I heard one person talked about using 'verbal judo' in dealing with difficult people.
I would say, try the active listening jujitsu first and see the difference.
Back to Blog
In my work with leaders and executives with on-purpose organizations, I noticed these three issues that arise when leaders do not let go of the need to be 'in control.'
Delegate with power
A leader of a group of leaders must delegate with power or else, giving free rein without the full authority to get the job done becomes a sticking point later on. This is a case of artificial empowerment which benefits no one.
Those who get 'volun-told' need not be afraid to ask for the full authority, not a training opportunity or a practice assignment.
Are you still in control while delegating the work to others? Give them the power and authority, give them the broad strokes, and let them create the outcomes that you seek.
Detach from outcomes
Senior leaders have the habit of putting their heads on their team members' plans and targets and watching them over their shoulders.
Let go of the need to control their outcomes for them. I once had a boss who had to be in one of my meetings to ensure that our objectives are met and the he gets to see things through. Waste of manager time! If you can't ensure, you failed in training, providing capacity, and setting the high tones. When I see directors sitting in one their staff's presentations or meetings, applying primitive managerial style is insufferable!
When they face problems, get them back again to their objectives and make it a teaching moment.
Honing your own leadership style
Nowadays, with all the bad content that you need to copy the power nap of so and so, and the 5am work style of this and that is atrocious.
People are beginning to be confused about leadership style and personal habits. Leadership style is your own sense of leading others, based on your values and strategies at it relates to the needs of your followers and organizational goals. Personal habits are not something that can be applicable to everyone. Take it with a grain of salt.
Leaders are made, not born. You can be in control of something but not all things in the organization. Learn to trust your team and begin to see real and positive change in the workplace.