When employees from almost every sector were surveyed and asked why they had left their jobs for another position, the #1 answer wasn’t about pay, benefits, or workplace conditions.  The #1 answer was always…”I didn’t like my manager.”
Now, does this mean Richard and I think this whole turnover problem sits in the lap of the manager?  No, but we do believe great managers keep good people.
Just think about this for a minute.  In all the positions you have held, when you had a great manager or boss, YOU wanted to excel, right?  Conversely, when you worked under a poor manager, you most likely didn’t have the same motivation to do as well.
Great managers make a tremendous difference in retaining great MGOs.  And…they know how to weed out the bad ones.  We’ve put together some qualities we’d like to see in managers.  If our industry would value these qualities, we’d see retention rates of good MGOs increase, and potentially, more dollars raised.
Okay, here are the qualities we want to see in managers, that will help retain our best MGOs.

  1. They love managing — You might be thinking, “Why would someone manage if they don’t love it?”  Richard and I see this all the time.  There are so many managers out there who should NOT be managing.  Managers are a special brand of people.  They love developing others.  They like getting results through the efforts of others. Many non-profits make the mistake of taking their best MGO and making him or her the manager of the rest of the team.  It usually ends in disaster, because the skill set for a manager is so different than an MGO.  Great managers love to help others do great things.
  2. They can identify what motivates each of their MGOs individually — This is key.  Great managers know their people.  They know their strengths, their weaknesses and what they need to do to get the best performance out of each of them.  In other words, they don’t treat each one the same.  Some folks need more hand-holding, others do better if left alone.  A great manager knows how to handle each type of person and get positive results from both.
  3. Great managers encourage their people — You’d think this is a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many MGOs we talk with who say their manager never thanks or praises them.  This is so demoralizing for MGOs.  MGOs are sales-type of people who need lots of attention and positive reinforcement.  Give it to them.  Why managers don’t get this says a lot about them as people.  If you are a manager and you are not encouraging your people, there is something wrong with YOU.
  4. Great managers are reasonable – In the major gift field, a good manager understands the ebb and flow of a caseload and the donors on it.  A good manager knows that some donors, because of circumstances, will give less in some years.  They will understand the technical realities and facts of major gift fundraising and treat their MGOs with respect and care because of that knowledge.
  5. Great managers go to bat for their people —“I’ve got your back.”  This is how managers let their MGOs feel.  A great manager will advocate for his or her people to leadership to make sure they get what they need to be successful.  Sometimes that means getting admin help, or it could mean a pay raise or an extra day off.  Whatever it is, great managers are always working on behalf of their people.
  6. Great managers are not afraid to do the hard things — This means that they don’t avoid problems or difficult situations.  One of the most important things  managers can do for their MGOs is tell them the truth, correct bad behavior and help them focus on their goals.  They are not afraid to take a difficult situation and lift the MGOs up, help them through a problem and hold them accountable.

Now, if we had more managers in our industry who had these qualities, we’d have a lot less attrition of development professionals.  Supporting, nurturing, encouraging and correcting are all important qualities in a manager that will help YOU, the MGO, not only want to stay in your job, but soar professionally and personally.
Series intro
#2 What Can MGOs Do?
#3 What About the Donor?