A recent study reported that 41% of non-profits hire staff/employees to work off-site.
The study is noted in an article published by Blue Avocado , which is actually a primer that all non-profits should read if they have people working remotely.
I will capture the essence of the primer, but really recommend studying the primer with those teams involved.
• Clear roles, responsibilities, and accountability. Probably the best way to establish trust and respect is to have those involved meet long enough to review clear job responsibilities. It helps if each person understands the job duties of others, so work proceeds as expected. This also means distributing leadership effectively.
• Participate in
Constructive Conflict. All teams have times of disagreement or conflict. It
can be harder to deal with if someone is working remotely. Handling conflict
well means that team members meet, focus on the work being done and not on
personal behavior or attacks. The challenge is how the disagreement affects the
work output. Success is when those involved understand the challenge, resolve
it, put it behind them and learn from the experience.
support one another. It isn’t always easy for a remotely working person to
feel like an integral part of the team, or they may feel they are providing an
extremely valuable service the team can’t appreciate – for example a data
analysis expert, or fundraising staff, or marketing staff. As the article says,
“Team members who adjust their work based on the needs of others are able to
keep the work moving while empowering their teammates to do the best possible
along the way.”
• Consider team
success vs. individual success. Being aware of the language team members
use in emails, conversations and discussions can shape the feelings of being a
team. If the “I” word is often used instead of “we”it makes a difference. This
may be especially true for the remotely working member. Another quote, “ Teams who focus more on
giving credit rather than seeking it understand the exponential impact on the
group as a whole.”
I strongly recommend this primer for sound guidance.
 blueavocado.org, Remote Team Environments: A How To Primer, Rachel Renock, May, 2019
Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org
Is the issue of harassment confusing? Do you wish that a simple, clear statement was available to help you have a clearer understanding of what it is and how to deal with it? Here is a brief overview.
TYPES: There are several types of inappropriate behavior that constitute harassment. The behavior could be of a sexual nature may involve bullying or other unwelcome behavior. Employee harassment guidelines establish the standards of conduct employees must follow, as well as the employer’s responsibilities in the event of a harassment claim as well as the possible consequences for engaging in such behavior
GUIDELINES: Employee harassment guidelines are a set of rules that illustrate how employees should conduct themselves in the workplace. They are in place to inform workers of what constitutes inappropriate behavior. Employee harassment guidelines define harassment, establish a specific code of conduct and clearly describe the procedures for reporting harassment. Many employers require that workers sign a document saying they read and understand harassment guidelines to help ensure adherence to harassment policies and procedures.
ISSUES: A central issue is occupying the time of HR professionals is harassment in the workplace. The costs associated with this issue go far beyond the simple payment of legal fees. Affected employees may begin to display any number of negative indications of harassment: feeling victimized, having attendance problems, showing a decrease in productivity, experiencing a hostile work environment. Even a potential loss of employment for those involved may result. Because harassment in business exclusively involves people, it falls to HR departments to maintain vigilance in monitoring and addressing this issue.
Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.” You, as a business owner, are liable for the inappropriate behaviors that fall into this description.
The HR ROLE AND PREVENTION:
Federal laws: The prevalence of harassment in the workplace has led to a number of federal laws:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA),
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
Legal matters in the workplace tend to fall under human resources, a component of business with labor law at its core. A harassment lawsuit carries with it the power to destroy your business, so it is beneficial to have HR on hand to deter situations of harassment.
Human resources personnel are equipped to take several measures in prevention of harassment. When first hired your employees may not know what the boundaries of behavior involve. They must be informed, and receive training. After training, employees should sign written acknowledgements of the training. This document is placed in their personnel files.
IMPORTANCE: Training and documentation provide important support if litigating a harassment case ever becomes necessary. Your HR department needs to provide continued required “brush-up” training as a necessary reminder to employees about harassment issues and how to avoid them.
EMPLOYER RESPONSIBILITIES: Implementing an employee harassment policy does not release employers from liability if a worker is the victim of harassment. Employers must make a good-faith effort to prevent harassment in the workplace and remedy a harassment situation if a worker files a complaint. Employers are liable for harassment if they are made aware of harassing behavior and fail to take action to correct the situation.
Guidelines attempt to prevent harassment through education and training about the problems harassment causes and the individual responsibilities of all involved. The EEOC Training Institute is a valuable resource employers can use to implement training and technical assistance programs to improve employee awareness about harassment.
EMPLOYER LIABILITY: Despite having abuse and harassment policies in place:
Employers may be liable for the inappropriate
behaviors of workers.
Employers are liable for harassment when a
manager or supervisor’s inappropriate behavior results in an adverse employment
action such as a decrease in wages or termination.
Employers who fail to prevent or at least make
an attempt to prevent harassing behavior are also liable.
Employers who are made aware of harassing or
abusive behavior and take the necessary steps to correct the situation are
usually released from liability unless the victim can prove otherwise.
REFERENCE: Effective January, 2019 Gov. Code 12950.1 (Amended by SB 1343) now requires that all employers of 5 or more employees provide 1 hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to non-managerial employees and 2 hours of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to managerial employees once every two years.
yourself. It’s important that you know the fundamentals of harassment in work
This article is purely
informational. For questions regarding the impact of harassment rules on your
business, please see a labor law attorney.
Author: Robin Noah, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org
Strategy Imagine it’s New Year’s Eve 2020. It’s getting close to midnight and under your breath, you say to yourself “I can’t believe the year went by so fast!”
You have a few quiet moments by yourself before gathering with family and friends to join the countdown to 2021, and you reflect back on highlights of the year that’s quickly coming to a close. You mentally run through some of your personal highlights: family, vacation, social gatherings, exciting events. Then like most leaders, you roll through scenes from your work life that stand out.
As you think back over 2020, what are the top two or three highlights that come to mind? What were the greatest contributions your team made to the success of your organization? Which activities that your team intentionally engaged in had the greatest impact toward fulfilling the company’s vision?
Right now, thinking about the completion of a
year that hasn’t yet begun may seem far off in the future. This is the time of
year when leaders are fine-tuning their financial plans and budgets for 2020
and generally focused on the question “How will we make our numbers next year?”
The numbers question is important; we have to deliver expected financial results.
But numbers in isolation are simply a reflection of what’s already happened. They quantify results of the activities we’ve already completed and how effectively we executed upon them. They are not a picture of what we want to make happen. That’s where the vision thing comes into the conversation.
As you think about the impact your organization will make in 2020 beyond the financial results you plan to create, consider revisiting the vision. Even if your organization’s vision has been more cosmetic than actionable, this is the perfect time for your team to delve into three strategic questions that can shape accomplishments in the upcoming year. These are three conversations about tomorrow for today:
How well do our actions align with our company’s vision? This conversation requires a candid
self-assessment of the vision to make sure it’s real and the team owns it. If
there’s any doubt about true buy-in to the vision, an early strategic priority
leading into 2020 is to invest leadership team time into redefining where
you’re going. Vision sets an organization’s course and informs
What do we do (mission), why do we do it
(purpose), and how do we fulfill our mission (strategy) are essential questions
an organization must answer in order to define its place in the world. Taken
together, the answers define an organization’s vision.
What are the most important two or three strategic priorities we
want to deliver beyond the expected financial results in 2020? With your vision as the guide, this
conversation informs specific areas of impact your team will focus upon
beginning now. Vision is irrelevant unless it informs priorities and those
priorities define actions.
This conversation takes a deductive “if, then”
approach: “if our No. 1 priority is acquiring and developing new talent, then
we will _________”. This conversation also leads to rich self-assessment
of previously stated strategic priorities. If a team said their No. 1 priority
last year was acquiring and developing talent, yet no specific actions were
taken, it wasn’t really a priority.
What are the areas in our organization we should be looking at
for self-disruption? During the late
1990s tech boom, the concept of disruption grabbed the attention of the
business world. New entrants in a market gave birth to novel ways of serving
customers, gained share and changed industries. While disruption has become a
core strategy, today the question is “where are there opportunities to
This conversation invites your team to
temporarily step outside their roles, look at the organization from a
third-party observer perspective and ask the question “if we were starting this
business from scratch today, how would we do it?” It requires temporarily
letting go of legacy constraints and look at your operation the way a potential
disruptor would see things, then challenge your organization to initiate
One of the greatest responsibilities we hold as leaders is driving continual evolution of the organization toward a well-defined future state. Today is the right day to begin these conversations about the 2020 vision your team wants to create. Today you can write scenes of the story you’ll look back to with great fulfillment on New Year’s Eve 2020.
Author: David Coffaro, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org
This book review is on “Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown and published by Penguin-Random House (2018). Brene Brown is one of my favorite authors on leadership. She is a social worker and researcher at the University of Houston.
Her TED Talks on Vulnerability is amazing. Her recent work “Dare to Lead” is one of my top favorite leadership books of 2018. She explains why true leadership is about vulnerability and connection-not power and strength.
Brown describes the four skills needed to become a courageous leader. These skill sets are 100% teachable, observable and measurable.The first and most important skill is Rumbling with Vulnerability. Brown had assumed that the biggest barrier to courageous leadership would be fear, but her research indicated that fear is not a barrier. In fact, leaders she interviewed admitted to being fearful much of the time. The real barrier is how people armor themselves to deal with the fear. It is critical to understand that we all self-protect when we feel scared, defensive, or vulnerable.
A great tool to use when Rumbling with Vulnerability is
curiosity. “When I find myself in a tough situation or I’m about to receive
some hard feedback, instead of getting my armor up, I stay open and ask
questions, so I can get specific information,” Brown explains. In the book she
identifies 16 different ways we armor ourselves and offers ways to move that
armor out of the way to become a daring, courageous leader.
The second skill is Living into Your Values. Leaders constantly
must do tough things, give hard feedback, put bold ideas into motion while
being unsure of the outcome, and take many risks. Courageous leaders are able
to do this consistently because they operate with a clear set of values and
behaviors that line up with those values. “It is important to have values as a
leader, but it is critical to operationalize them. Otherwise they are just
vague concepts, not guiding principles,” Brown explains.
The third skill, Braving Trust, can be tricky because many
leaders don’t know how to talk about trust. Direct reports have to trust their
leaders in order to have honest conversations and both parties have to be in an
unarmored position. It’s no secret that the highest performing teams are built
on a foundation of trust. And building trust is a skill that can be taught and
The fourth skill is Learning to Rise and deals with the ability
to re-set after an error or mistake. The ability to be resilient helps leaders
learn from mistakes quickly, share those learnings, and continue to move
forward in a positive way. And, yes, it is a skill that every leader can learn.
“Courage is a skill set we can teach, measure, and observe, but
we are choosing not to because it is an investment of energy and time and it
takes muscle building. But why are we choosing not to do it? If we need braver
leaders, but we’re not investing in skilling them up, what is getting in the
way?” asked Brown.
“Dare to Lead” is the ultimate playbook that offers practical skill-building tools for creating brave leaders in your organization. You will not be disappointed. (Chad Gordon-BleacherLeaderChat)
Author: Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org
Recently, our coaches learned about an exciting new student volunteer project and transcript service called VolunteerCrowd. CEO and Founder, Amy von Kaenel introduced her latest development designed to help middle school through college-age students find, schedule and track volunteer opportunities for FREE!
able to uncover meaningful opportunities ranging from a few hours volunteering
at a local shelter to a summer-long internship. The best part is students are
able to match their interests and volunteer needs with a project in their community.
is one of four critical factors when applying for admission to college. Recently,
VolunteerCrowd looked at 79 Orange County public high schools and found there
are approximately 54,000 students from schools who require volunteer hours in
search of over 460,000 collective hours in a given year. The need for volunteer projects is great. Each
year, students find it more and more difficult to differentiate themselves when
competing against students who have equally as high GPAs and perfect test
scores. With the new app, VolunteerCrowd makes student volunteering easy and
can make a unique contribution to college and career success that can’t be
taught in the classroom. Evidence
supports that social-emotional education is falling short of preparing students
for higher education and employment. A
2018 Bloomberg Next Study reported that many graduates have deficient skills in
emotional intelligence, complex reasoning and negotiation, and persuasion. VolunteerCrowd can deliver the
relevant opportunities students need to learn and practice soft skills and
positively impact college completion rates and workforce success.
On the flip side, nonprofits can take advantage of the ease
and convenience of VolunteerCrowd’s recruitment process by sending projects to email@example.com, and
later this year posting volunteer opportunities on VolunteerCrowd. Students are
carefully matched with projects they are passionate about. VolunteerCrowd will
notify students when a match is made. Project details will be shared with
students and reminders will be automatically sent. Once a project is completed,
nonprofits can verify hours. Later this year, organizations will be
able to acknowledge a job well done by providing strength and skill
endorsements related to student performance thus providing individual assessments
that colleges like to see.
Below are some of the many ways VolunteerCrowd assists nonprofits
with volunteer engagement throughout the year and helps students meet their
community service goals:
Find volunteer organizations of personal
interest. Request an alert when new projects become available.
Search for/post volunteer projects by location
and zip code.
Receive reminders, request projects and get alerts
when new organizations post projects
students to qualify for the President’s Volunteer Service Award. VolunteerCrowd became a certifying
organization in July.
volunteers in meaningful experiences they can become passionate about.
friends to join the cause and volunteer together.
your community service experiences and develop leadership skills through
your performance stand out by requesting recommendations from organizations you
Later this fall,
VolunteerCrowd will unveil their volunteer transcript and portfolio service
allowing students to create an individual portfolio showcasing total hours by
cause, top organizations served, milestones and even recommendations.
A performance review of the CEO/ED (Executive Director) one time a year is recommended as good governance. Yet, when I have asked some of these leaders in the past, the answer often is “ Oh, I’ve never had one” … or “I had one several years ago.”
The questions are, How can a leader grow and reach new heights without support and feedback from the Board? How can a Board really support a mission without understanding the leader’s challenges and strengths?
There are assessment tools and even resources on the
Internet about this process and protocol, but I believe the simplest of
discussions with everyone notified and involved produces the healthiest and
most satisfactory outcomes.
• The Board chair meets with the CEO/ED to state purpose,
ask about a future date, and ask if there are any items he/she would like
• The Board chair reports to the Board the findings and sets
a future date, asking that all members please attend.
In the meeting there are two (2) simple questions to answer:
1. What did the leader accomplish this year, what about effective
communication with the Board, with donor and community relationships, success
with leadership initiatives, and meeting the strategic goals of the nonprofit?
What are his/her strengths?
2. What would the Board like to have him/her consider doing
These questions should be tackled separately. That is,
question 1 should be discussed by the entire Board – if small, in one group. If
the Board is more than 6, then in small groups, and then each small group
reports to the others. There is knowledge and information shared in this
process that makes the Board a stronger team.
After there is closure to the first question, the second
question is addressed in the same way.
The discussions and notes from these two sessions must be confidential and housed in the Board chair’s possession – never in the office. Feedback to the CEO/ED should convey support, appreciation, and should also touch on any development goals for the leader.
Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org
Does your non-profit have owners who view the business as their own and go over and beyond their job description or renters who just get by viewing the job as a regular 9-5 chore?
your Owners, Renters and Vandals?
According to a
recent Gallup poll,
only 33% ofworkers in
the United States are really engaged in
their jobs which means they bring their full self to work and are Owners.
51% of employees are disengaged Renters and bring themselves and their skills to work but may not really put in their full heart into it. Vital to your organization, but they are there for money and view it as a 9-5 job. A more concerning note is that 16% are actively disengaged and alarmingly a small portion of them might even end up as up as Vandals as per Cueinc*. Vandals are employees who don’t just not care about your organization but may also derail it and your other engaged team members with their negativity and personal agendas.
Does it matter if employees are engaged? Here are some metrics from Gallup on the difference that engaged employees make :
Highly engaged business units:
41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity
10% increase in customer metrics and a 20% increase in sales.
can result in 21% greater profitability
First, how do you identify a highly engaged employee ?
An engaged employee doesn’t
just view it as a job or a gig. They will go over and beyond the job
description to work towards the mission of the non-profit. She not just
believes in the mission, but is an evangelist ! Example : An employee works in
a hotel and as he is walking down the corridor, he spots an piece of paper on
the floor. Will he pick it up and throw it in a bin, or kick it under the
carpet or will he throw something else down and walk away?
Five quick tips on increasing engagement and having more owners :
1. Invest in what motivates individual employees :
Employees feel most engaged when they feel cared for. So, your first step is to identify what motivates an individual employee. And then cater to them by developing individual development plan & reward for each of them.
2. Help them grow:
Radical Candour by Kim Scott shares a great way to give feedback by caring personally but challenging directly. Which means giving direct feedback while also building a personal connect and rapport with the employee thereby giving guidance that’s kind and clear, specific and sincere.
3. Help your employees shine :
are most engaged when they enjoy their jobs. An efficient way to do this, is
to play by their strengths. Identify
what they are best at and ensure that they have opportunities to shine by they
doing what comes naturally to them.
4. Freedom to make big changes :
A renter can change the
drapes, but can’t break down walls can she? A owner can. Give your employees
the freedom to make big calls and have them take the accountability for it.
5. Rewarding & Celebrating your owners :
Do the promotion and big
increments only go to your renters who have been there forever or do you
proactively identify your upcoming owners and reward them?
Wishing you all the very best
in your quest to increase your business owners and weed out the vandals ! Au
The option to work outside the office is a dream come true for employees who want better working options, however, managing remote employees can quickly become a boss’s worst nightmare. Remote working, telecommuting, flexible working – thanks to the wonders of technology, is increasingly finding new ways to get the job done. The ability to telecommute, whether full time or on occasion, has become an increasingly common workplace perk. In fact, according to one Gallup study 43.
has been said that allowing people to work from home attracts and retains top
talent in a competitive market, but there are factors to consider.
1. Eligibility: One of the first things any employer needs to consider when deciding on a remote work assignment is whether the employees’ attitudes, work ethics and personalities align with the company’s expectations of telecommuting. Managers should accommodate on a case-by-case basis keeping in mind what’s best for the company, its team members and the project at hand. Sometimes looking at the employees profile will give the best clue when looking for candidates or responding to a request.
some time to cover all areas of remote
working and create a job description that includes the nature of the position,
how long a person has been at the position, past job performance and how
frequently a staff member can telecommute, i.e., full time, once a week, etc.
2. Expectations: For geographically dispersed teams, or in cases where remote work helps, accommodation for family schedules and obligations, official “business hours” may vary from person to person. However, regardless of their work hours, employees also need to be held accountable for their assigned jobs. “It is important to provide very specific remote work guidelines and policies for employees to review and acknowledge in a telecommuting arrangement.
Workers who do not meet these expectations risk losing the trust of leadership and sidelining their team. Minimum considerations:
Clear expectations with employees
Adhering to company expectations
Available during office hours
Meet deadlines and complete projects with excellence
Maintain communication with their manager and co-workers.
Other concerns that
may be addressed
of company owned equipment
Security – both
physical, and digital
boundaries between work life and home life
3. Equipment and Cybersecurity
employees to work remotely opens up the likelihood that they’ll use their work
devices to communicate via unsecured public networks. Password-protect all
business devices; make sure that data going out from those devices is
encrypted. Keep a current inventory of all devices and make sure each one has
its GPS tracking turned on. Additionally, install technology to remotely wipe
data from any device that has been lost or stolen.”
4. Communication methods: With the appropriate
use of communications technology, companies can also ensure their culture
remains intact, even with full-time telecommuters. It’s wise to explicitly state that remote work
is a privilege that can be revoked if it’s discovered that an employee is not
meeting his or her expectations while working outside the office.
This article is informational. Please see a labor law attorney for any questions you may have.
Author: Robin Noah, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org
As our day to day lives have become busier and technology has eroded the line between work hours and personal time, many people are working longer hours than ever before. From cell phones to laptops people are now accessible at virtually any hour of the day. The result is that people feel stressed and lack more free time.
When it comes to work, it turns out that giving people more freedom can foster greater productivity and creativity among employees. This can include such things as more vacation time or short breaks within the workday. Companies such as Netflix have gone so far to introduce vacation policies allowing people to take off whatever time they need. Interestingly, these companies have found most do not abuse such freedom and tend to be happier and perhaps more loyal. At the least companies should encourage people to use all of their allotted vacation time.
Another way to give employees more time is to allow them some flexibility to run the occasional errand during the workday. Some find it hard to juggle everything they need to do on the weekends.
For people who run on “auto pilot” when it comes to repetitive tasks or routines mixing things up can have a big impact. It forces them to become more engaged in what else is around them.
In our rat race world finding ways to ease the stress on our staff can pay big dividends.
Author: Dave Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org
As nonprofit development professionals know, there are many factors that influence charitable donations. Emotional connection to an organization’s mission, commitment to creating a better community, giving back to a charity that made a difference in someone’s life or tax deductions can all be influencers. Add to these internal motivations the external reality of economic conditions and you have an ever-changing environment informing development strategies.
Strategy as a Process, not an Event
know that their ability to adapt strategy as environments change is fundamental
to sustaining a thriving organization. Reading the environment, interpreting
temporary and longer-term structural changes and proactively adjusting approach
are critical determinants of success.
Today, nonprofit leaders face an environmental shift in terms of fundraising. New preliminary IRS information, reported by MarketWatch this week (https://www.marketwatch.com/story/americans-slashed-their-charitable-deductions-by-54-billion-after-trumps-tax-overhaul-2019-07-09) indicates that as a result of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers have itemized $54 billion less in charitable contributions so far this tax season compared to the previous year. These numbers could change as the IRS receives more tax returns (the agency expects a record 14.6 million tax return extension requests this year), but the headline corroborates what many nonprofits have been feeling over the past year of fundraising.
At first blush, this news suggests that nonprofits must now compete for a smaller pie of charitable giving. However, when we dig a little deeper, it may be that there are other pies available to get a bigger slice. Here are three specific ideas to contemplate as your organization considers refining and adapting its’ strategy:
the mission – Step into the
shoes of the donor and ask “why would I contribute to your organization”. Tax
benefits are one reason, but for most of your donors, there is some kind of
emotional connection to your mission. The work your organization does every day
resonates with the donor at some level, or they wouldn’t be one of your
donors. This is a perfect time to revisit your mission, how you articulate it,
your organization’s value proposition and how you message all of this
through every medium to make sure the story is communicated the way it needs to
focus on corporations and foundations – Concurrent with the 1/1% decline in the dollar amount of
donations from individuals, funds from corporations and foundations actually increased (+5.4% from corporations and +7.3%
from foundations). Translation – there’s still a lot of pie available; you just
may have to look in different places to get what your organization needs. This
is where the role of leaders comes into play in terms of refining strategy
based on a changing environment.
non-financial gifts – Beyond
the 2017 tax law changes, one theory suggests that equity market volatility
over the past year may be playing a role in individual giving. This behavioral
finance explanation suggests that when capital markets are volatile, investors
feel less confident, therefore more cautious about donating from their
investment portfolios to charities. As an alternative, developing or expanding
your organization’s focus on non-financial gifts – real estate, automobiles,
oil, gas or mineral rights, specialty assets or artwork may be a way to enable
your donors to support the mission in a manner that is more comfortable in the
current market cycle.
Effective nonprofit strategy is on ongoing, dynamic process that continually recalibrates to its environment. This is a perfect time to revisit your organization’s strategy to see how it aligns with current reality, and the pies that are available to you.
Author: David Coffaro, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org