Reading the Sunday Times article today (‘Charities rattle tins for their pensions’) raised my concerns that, as if charities didn’t have enough problems to cope with already, here’s another issue for the top charities who are managing final salary pension schemes to handle. It prompted me to think about some of the other key areas I’ve observed in my work with charities that is currently giving me cause for concern. As a fan of Stephen Covey’s internationally respected approach to personal and organizational development, I decided to analyse these issues in the ‘7 Habits’ style – do any of these ring true with you?
Bad habit 1 – Not realizing that there are boundaries between caring and managing.
Too much of one can create operational and emotional imbalances. Any CEO of a Charity knows this but how do you get it right? How many take steps to retrain their management teams to be flexible, effective and holistic in times of fund raising adversity? Whilst we all care, not all care can be delivered as well as we would like. Managing means making hard decisions with care.
Bad habit 2 – Not acknowledging that cutbacks in funding can create a feeling of job vulnerability amongst staff.
This may lead to protective silo’d behaviours and de-motivation. Managing and implementing cutbacks is critical despite the pain. Aiming at future surplus and sustainability of funds flow is vital. Where can money be saved and how can we still keep people motivated? If we run Charity shops, are our costs under control ?
Bad habit 3 – Failing to make core changes in structures.
For example, between event managers and fundraisers, or between finance and operations. Do rivalries exist? All groups should be trying their best to raise interest, funds and donor loyalties. How do CEOs find out who is creating and sustaining the empires?
Bad habit 4 – Allowing resistance to change to hinder progress.
Individual fear and anxiety can sap energies and reduce accomplishments. How do you encourage flexibility?
Bad habit 5 – Fostering a person to person email culture.
Facing the ‘elephant in the room’ so that the atmosphere at work is harmonious is the holy grail. How many are able to communicate well and address real issues face to face. Do some staff use emails to claim credit and impose authority – or worse – bully others ? Do some staff hide behind emails to shed accountability and /or pretend to be busy?
Bad habit 6 – Lack of engagement with donors and other funding sources on the use of funds.
An increasing proportion of ‘silver surfers’ and younger people expect to be recognized and acknowledged in a personal style. Do we ever stop to tell people what their money is actually used for? If we have good data about donors – individuals and corporate – can steps be taken to project how money is used, and outcomes evidenced for funding bodies as well ?
Bad habit 7 – Not recognizing the need for personal development and general health and well-being.
Most CEO’s know that there are one or two critically important people around them taking on too much at times, with a huge degree of stress, hard work and yet apparent modesty. If these individuals breakdown in any way – or go on leave – the Charity can stumble. What would it take to coach them away from overload behaviours whilst encouraging others to become more involved and accountable? How do you do that?
Bad habits are embedded throughout careers. Challenging and changing these habits can be career enlightening and benefit all. The general health and well-being of the whole Charity Sector must extend to individuals. I welcome your comments on which aspects of the 7 Bad Habits you have come across recently – or are there others that are impacting your charity more?