In our industry, development professionals leave their jobs about every 2.3 years to seek something “better.”  When questioned in surveys as to why they leave their jobs, the #1 reason given is, “I didn’t like my manager.”
This means that the state of non-profit management is in the toilet.  Richard and I didn’t need that statistic to confirm what we’ve already known for years.  There are so many good people working as MGOs or other development professionals who, on a daily basis, are beaten down by their bosses or Executive Directors.
It’s really sad and it needs to change.  So many good people are leaving non-profit fundraising because management has let them down.  This is why our fifth resolution for the new year is for you to Take Care of Your People.
If you’re someone who manages one, two or two hundred people, we urge you to consider how you are developing your staff and nurturing their growth as individuals and professionals.  I’m going to give you several ideas on how to make next year the year you take care of your people.

  1. Ask yourself, “Am I a manager?” — This is a tough one because, in most organizations, management usually means more money and status.  But I’ve seen so many development professionals who are incredible MGOs, great writers, with strategic minds who, when given a management position, die a slow death.  One question to ask yourself is, “Do I draw satisfaction from seeing results through the efforts of others or through my own efforts?”  Be honest.  If it’s through your own efforts, managing others may not be for you.  You will not be happy.  I know from personal experience that if managing is not in your DNA, if you don’t like developing others, you should NOT go down or stay on this path.
  2. Provide structure and accountability — Great managers know that they must provide their people with a solid structure to work within and create ongoing accountability.  While they know they may get “push-back” from their staff, they remain steadfast, knowing that, in the long run, those folks will thank them for providing it.  This means setting goals, giving clear expectations and boundaries and providing ongoing feedback and evaluation.  Great managers are not “best friends” with their employees, but they are mentors and cheerleaders for their development.
  3. Don’t sweat the small stuff — I’ve seen managers get hung up on the wrong things, small things really, and it has created animosity with their people.  Great managers manage using goals and objectives.  If your people are meeting and exceeding them, don’t get hung up on what they are doing every minute of the day.  If you have an MGO who is always exceeding his or her goals and wants to work a day each week from home, why not?  On one hand, there is a time and place for rules and regulations, but on the other hand, you have to develop trust and understanding with your people.
  4. Constantly be looking for professional development opportunities — I can’t even count the number of times I’ve talked to MGOs who have said they have never been to a conference or seminar because their manager will never approve it.  This is crazy.  Great managers are constantly trying to find opportunities for their staff to gain knowledge and growth about the profession.  They don’t have to be expensive either. Great managers LOVE to develop others into the best they can be.  In the coming year, this should be your mantra.
  5. View your staff as human beings — It’s almost sad that I have to mention this, but I do.  As I said in the beginning of this post, Richard and I have talked with so many fundraising professionals who have just been beaten down on a daily basis by bad managers.  And, after listening to their stories, it makes us wonder whether their managers have any humanity left.  Be kind, be compassionate, be understanding.  You are leading and managing real people with real fears, hopes and dreams, just like you.  Treat them with respect.  One of the things I love about Richard is that he is always thinking about our staff.  He wants to make sure they are okay, that they feel good about their work.  He’s concerned that they have what they need and is always looking for ways to make their experience with Veritus better.  That is what you need to do with your staff… everyday.

So, make next year “The Year of Your People,” and when you do, you’ll be amazed at how they will respond and perform.  It will be their best year ever, and yours.

Series details:
#1 – Figure out where you are
#2 – Invest in your major gift program
#3 – Unclog your pipes!
#4 – Build a solid bridge
#5 – Take care of your people
#6 – Take care of yourself