Category Archives: Bob Cryer

Management and Leadership Skills

Bob Cryer


Would you be interested in quickly learning how you might get better results from your nonprofit management and leadership efforts? can deliver some ideas relevant to your interests whenever you are ready, and do it quickly and at no cost to you. Here are some of the most popular of the 47 trainings in the “Personal & Professional Development” category, sub-category “Management and Leadership”.

Becoming a Coaching Manager – Part A This 15-minute online course is designed for managers seeking to improve their ability to coach employees to higher performance. Objectives for Part A and Part B: Identify ideal coaching situations, Explore tools for coaching success, Understand how coaching can assist both individuals and teams within an organization.

Fostering and Maintaining Motivation This 20-minute online course is designed for leaders seeking to improve their motivational skills. Objectives: Identify motivational levers, Undertake effective action to motivate colleagues, Delegate in a motivating and effective manner.

Making Your New Management Position Successful – Part A This 12-minute online course is designed for new managers as well as those looking for a basic refresher on the core principles of management. Objectives for Part A and Part B: Clarify the implications of your new position as manager, Succeed in the first steps of your new position; Identify the key points of delegating.

The Management Styles This 20-minute online course shows how to adopt an effective management style. The course is designed for all levels of managers and team leaders. Objectives: Understand the value and purpose of different management styles and when to apply them, Incorporate the positive aspects of each management style when leading teams, Determine when and how to adapt management styles to different circumstances and colleagues

Essential Skills for New Managers This curriculum will address questions such as: What are the markings of an effective manager?  What knowledge and skillset are essential for great managers to succeed in leading people?  What are the most common pitfalls of managing people?  What are the essential skills that all new managers need to be successful?

5 Levers for Producing Great Leaders This 30-minute online course is designed for anyone seeking to improve their leadership skills. Objectives: Successfully communicate vision, Maintain cooperative relationships, Push for achievement.

Leadership Best Practice This 30-minute online course is designed for senior managers seeking to build the leadership pipelines within their organization. Objectives: Carry out a leadership inventory in your organization, Develop an innovation strategy to cultivate leaders in your organization, Secure collective buy-in of leadership development goals.

Please go to to take a few of these no-cost trainings

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,


No-cost Nonprofit Training Opportunities

Bob Cryer (NPRO) is a website of 43 interactive E-learning curriculums and 385 online classes and videos on a wide variety of nonprofit best practices, all at no cost to any user.  I took one of the curriculums (Management Essentials) and was impressed with the content and interactive presentation. More importantly, sixty thousand people have used the site in the past year, and six thousand new users join each month.

In my opinion, the more people in a nonprofit who know nonprofit best practices, the more effective that nonprofit is likely to be. NPRO best practice trainings can be accessed at no cost, at any time, from anywhere, for as long a session as the user has time for at that moment. It is, by far, one of the most convenient and cost effective methods that I am aware of for acquiring know-how in nonprofit best practices.

Here is a sampling of a few of NPRO’s most popular online courses, videos and curriculums:

  • Managing Expectations This 8-minute micro-learning online course on managing expectations contains a 3 minute video, quiz, summary document and additional short audio clips. Managing expectations is a crucial part of any professional relationship, from your colleagues to your customers.
  • Managing Your Boss This 8-minute micro-learning online course on managing your boss contains a 2 minute video, quiz, summary document and additional short audio clips. Your boss can have a big impact on the way you do your work, but your actions can also influence their management style.
  • Introduction to Proposal Writing This 27 minute video is designed for anyone involved in the proposal writing process. Course Objectives: • Understand the basic components of writing and submitting a project proposal
  • Introduction to Finding Grants This 30 minute video is designed for anyone seeking to better understand the grant-seeking process. Course Objectives: • Identify the 10 most important things you need to know about grant-seeking • Understand the primary misconceptions about grant-seeking
  • Project Management Essentials – Part A This 20-minute online course is designed for anyone responsible for managing projects and/or programs. Objectives for Part A and Part B: Define the life cycle of a project and structure it around milestones, Control your project using flexible tools, Create a plan for day-to-day project management.
  • Grantsmanship Essentials Pack In this 1 hour and 50 minute curriculum from the Foundation Center, you will learn the basics on how to find grant programs and funders as well as how to write a proposal that aligns with the funder’s criteria. Objectives: To understand how to identify funders aligned with your organizational mission and cause, To articulate what is required in receiving and managing grant funds, To identify the best practices for writing a successful grant proposal.

Please visit to learn more.

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Management Essentials

Bob Cryer


This is a report on my experience with the no-cost Management Essentials curriculum at

The website contains over 400 trainings on nonprofit leadership, fundraising, board governance, program and project management, marketing and PR, volunteer management, administration and operations, HR, etc. Most of the curriculums were developed by Cegos, an international $200M developer of e-learning and blended learning curriculums that are used by a million learners each year. Cegos donated some of their nonprofit e-learning curriculums to, who now offers them at no cost to all nonprofit employees and volunteers.

The Management Essentials curriculum is targeted at mid-level and experienced managers looking to build their skill set. Its objectives are to help them:

  • Become a better decision maker
  • Learn to prioritize information and reduce uncertainties
  • Identify the stakes of a team project and how to best manage them
  • Recognize how to coach both individuals and groups

The curriculum content was robust enough to keep me interested throughout. The presentation used a variety of pop-up animations, texts and graphics to present information and questions, avoiding the tediousness of the many text-based e-learning curriculums. I particularly liked the use of case studies to get you to think about how to apply the ideas, rather than just giving you a quiz to help you remember the ideas.

The curriculum suggests that new employees are typically dependent on their managers and trainers to teach them how to meet basic job requirements. However, if a nonprofit wants to grow in effectiveness, its trained employees must be encouraged to function more autonomously, undertaking projects to improve existing operations or initiate new programs, initially as individual contributors, and eventually as team members and leaders. In order to facilitate this, managers need to learn how to function as coaching managers who mentor independent action, rather than as authoritative managers who encourage employees to continue to be dependent on their manager’s knowhow. This curriculum guides a manager through that transformation.

I encourage all nonprofit employees and volunteers to visit  to try out some of their no-cost curriculums, classes, videos and materials.

If you are a nonprofit manager in Orange County CA who would like a no-cost Executive Coach to work with you on implementing some of the ideas in the Management Essentials curriculum, please contact me at

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

You Get What You Expect

Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer


Most of us have probably heard the tongue-in-cheek definition of a crazy person (e.g. someone who keeps doing the same thing, but expects the outcome to improve).

As managers, are we crazy to expect our organization to get better results if we don’t regularly delegate a bit more responsibility with a bit higher expectations to each of our employees, so that they and the results that the organization gets is continually growing ?

Why don’t more managers regularly use the process of delegation to get continual improvement in the results that their organization is able to produce? Isn’t delegating very similar to the familiar processes that nonprofits use to cultivate major donors (e.g. you usually have to develop and make a compelling “ask” in order to get the larger donation).

Stephen Robbins in his classic book “The Truth About Managing People” says in chapter 29 that “You Get What You Expect”. He says that management expectations are like a self-fulfilling prophesy.

If you don’t regularly delegate new responsibilities and expectations to an employee, you are, in effect, telling them that you don’t think they have the potential to be anything more that what they already are. You are likely to get little more than what that employee has always done for your organization.

However, if you treat someone as if they had great potential by taking the time to continually delegate new and interesting opportunities for growth, they are likely to grow to fulfill your high expectations of them.

You get what you expect. And you send that low or high expectation message by how often you take the time to delegate a new and interesting growth opportunity to each employee.

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

The Promise of a Pencil

Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer


I just finished reading the New York Times bestseller “The Promise of a Pencil”. It is an inspiring story about how a young man, Adam Braun, started up a nonprofit in 2008 with $25 and by 2014 had built 250 elementary schools in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Adam got the idea to do this when he was traveling in India and observed the severe poverty that many of the children lived in. He wanted to help, but didn’t know how. So he started asking children “If you could have anything in the world, what is the one thing you would want most?” One child answered “A pencil”. When challenged by his parents and others, the child persisted. Adam had a #2 yellow pencil in his backpack, and gave it to the child. The child’s face lit up, and he looked at the pencil as if it were a diamond. As Adam asked the question to more impoverished children in each area he traveled to, and he became convinced that what most impoverished children wanted the most was an education. So it became his mission and the mission of his nonprofit startup named “Pencils of Promise” or PoP.

In addition to being and engaging and compelling story, the book describes the many ways that Adam Braun used social media to startup his nonprofit, and then built it into being a major force for good in the community and in the world.

I recommend that nonprofit leaders read this book to inspire us to think big, and to show us how to use social media to help us make those bigger things happen.

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

A Board’s Developmental Responsibilities

Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer


Last month’s blog outlined a board’s strategic responsibilities. This blog will address their developmental responsibilities.

A nonprofit’s strategic plan typically identifies the measurable goals that the nonprofit’s staff is expected to achieve in the coming year, and the strategies that they will deploy in order to achieve those goal. The Board participates in developing these goals and strategies, but it is the Executive Director and their staff that is primarily accountable for achieving them, and the fiscal objectives defined by the nonprofit’s budget.

This leaves the question “What are the nonprofit board members going to do to help their nonprofit grow and do more of their good work in our community?”

Just as the nonprofit staff should have a strategic plan for growing the nonprofit, their board members should have their plans for what they are going to do to help their nonprofit develop. These development plans generally include board member commitments in two areas:

Outreach: What is each board member going to do in the coming year to make more people aware of the good work that their nonprofit does, and get more people involved in the work of the nonprofit’s committees and their events?

Fundraising: Is each Board member willing to make this nonprofit one of their top three charitable donations? What is each board member planning to do in the coming year to grow the major donor base of the nonprofit and/or increase the giving level of the existing donor base?

A nonprofit’s board chair and its development director should agree on a process for involving all the board members in creating the board’s annual development plan, and how they will follow-up on the progress made during the year.

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

A Board’s Strategic Responsibilities

Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer


Last month’s blog discussed a board’s fiscal responsibilities. This blog addresses their strategic responsibilities.

A nonprofit’s budget for the coming year is a reflection of the trends in their annual expenses and revenues, plus any strategies they have for making the future look different from those projections.

These agreed upon strategies are typically the result of an annual strategic planning meeting of the board and the nonprofit’s management team. The process typically begins with a review of the nonprofit’s mission and vision and the management team’s presentation of the results achieved this year compared to last year and the results expected from implementing the strategies agreed to last year. This might logically lead to a discussion of why things worked better or worse than expected, what the nonprofit should keep doing, and what it might stop doing.

Next the participants might share their knowledge of external trends that might be a strategic opportunity for the nonprofit to fulfill more of its mission, or a threat to its mission. These might be trends in what donors, foundations, business sponsors and government agencies are willing to support; trends in the effectiveness of various traditional and emerging fundraising methods; trends in the needs of the people the nonprofit is trying to serve and their reaction to the support that your nonprofit is providing, and trends in the morale and interest of the nonprofit’s employees.

The meeting participants then need to identify, from all the opportunities and threats discussed, which three to five are the most important to address. A strategy for addressing each selected issue needs to be developed along with the measurable result expected in each area, and who will lead the effort to implement each new strategy. This then becomes the strategic plan for the nonprofit, and its costs and benefits are built into the nonprofit’s budget for the coming year.

If your nonprofit would like help in planning and facilitating a strategic planning meeting with your board, please Email us at

Next month’s blog will discuss a board’s developmental responsibilities.

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

What is a Board Supposed to be Doing?

Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer


An Executive Director told me her Board was managing some of her staff and micromanaging her. She asked me “What is her Board supposed to be doing?”

A nonprofit board has three primary responsibilities: Fiscal, Strategic and Developmental. This blog post will outline the Board’s fiscal responsibilities. Future posts will address the other roles.

A Board’s fiscal responsibility is to insure that the nonprofit spends within its means, that their expenditures are consistent with its mission and strategy, and that their expenditures are prudent.

The process begins with the preparation of an annual budget which lists the amount of all the expected sources of revenues and expenses. The items and quantities are typically based on last year’s actual revenues and expenses, adjusted for the trends verses previous years and any new plans or new external factors that could alter those trends. The Executive Director and their staff typically prepare a budget for the coming year and the Board revues it in detail to insure that it is complete, prudent and consistent with the nonprofit’s mission and strategy.

Each month the Executive Director or CFO should present to the Board last month’s actual cash revenues and expenditures and the year-to-date actuals compared the comparable budgeted amounts, and the net cash-on-hand. Any significant deviations from the budget should be discussed and result in a decision if budgets need to be adjusted. The net cash-on-hand should be reviewed to insure that it is sufficient to meet upcoming cash flow requirements. If not, spending or borrowing plans need to be adjusted to insure continual nonprofit solvency.

This annual and monthly fiscal discipline helps insure that corrective action is taken before smaller deviations from the fiscal plan become a major issue or crisis.

Next month’s blog will be about a Board’s strategic responsibilities.

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

How to Build a Board

Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer

Most small nonprofits would like to have a larger board, but they just don’t seem to have the elements in place needed to make it happen. Here is what is needed.

Once or twice a year, personally ask each board member, staff member and anyone else you know for the contact information for anyone that they know who is active in their community. People who are active in other community organizations are a good prospect for becoming involved in your nonprofit. Let the referrers know the minimum qualifications required to be on your board (rather than your wildest dreams). Let the referrer know that all they have to do is provide a name and contact information and you will do the rest.

Have a process for recruiting new board members. It might consist of:

  1. An information packet that you can send to a prospect to give them basic information about the nonprofit and its board.
  2. A follow-up phone call to see if they would like to meet to learn more about the nonprofit and what is expected of its board members.
  3. If the interest is there, an invite to a board meeting to meet all the members and observe their process.
  4. If there is mutual interest, give the prospect an application to become a board member.

Have a process for orienting and getting a new board member involved:

  1. Assign an experienced board member to mentor the new member’s orientation.
  2. Have a manual for new members that contain the bylaws, the organization charts with contact information for the board and staff, all the documents that the board members have seen in the last year and all of the PR and fundraising literature that the nonprofit has distributed in the last year. The mentor should discuss this relevance of all this information to the board with the new member.
  3. Have the new member meet individually with the ED, the board chair and any committee chairs to understand the role and approach of each key player.
  4. Have the mentor help the new member find a satisfying board and committee role

A nonprofit should be able to build its board if has a reliable process for generating leads, for following up with prospects, and for helping new board members get oriented and involved.

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

How Does Your Organization Use Goals?

Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer

It is hard to find an organization that does not have a defined set of goals. However, what these goals mean to the people in an organization can vary widely depending on the unspoken intentions of the people setting the goals. As employees, it is important to know how your organization will actually use the goals it is setting. There are at least three basic options.

To meet expectations: Everyone expects an organization to have goals, so organizations create them to meet those expectations. Donors want to donate to organizations that have goals that they can enthusiastically support. Any credible manager must be able to articulate a set of goals to gain the respect of others. It is almost universally true that one of the reasons that organizations, managers and leaders have goals because everyone expects them to have them.

To motivate: Those people that choose to lead typically use goals as the basis for giving recognition, praise and appreciation to anyone that has made a contribution to the goal, making people feel good about making that contribution. They will also share stories of the great lengths that other people have gone to in order to make a significant contribution in the hopes that more people will follow their example. In addition to having goals “to meet expectations”, they are constantly working “to motivate” people to achieve those goals.

To manage: In contrast to the motivator, the manager carefully tracks the progress that each person is making towards achieving their portion of the goal, and redeploys resources and/or method to insure everyone’s success in achieving the overall goal.

An organization probably needs someone that is a motivator and manager to get extraordinary results from people that are enthused about their work. But that is unusual. More common is the organization that set goals to meet communication expectations, but doesn’t really do much more with them. In these situations, other factors like reliability, professional competence and good relationships might be more important than goal achievement.

To thrive as an employee, you need to understand what the organization plans to do with the goals that it sets.

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,