Do nonprofits need to be more commercial? Do for-profits need to be more charitable? My belief is you can only give as much as you have, and you can only have as much as you give. Therefore, the two are best placed side-by-side.
I recently encountered Non-Profit Directors who said “commercial is not a dirty word!” And, Non-Profit Employees who said, “why should we be commercial, we have not had to before!” How can we address that communication gap for the benefit of non-profit customers? How can we help the managers who are in the middle of that communication gap!
If you want to engage performance, here are 5 practical steps out of many for consideration.
Replace the word ‘commercial’ with ‘enterprising’. The former is profit-focused; And, a financial goal tends to be at odds to someone motivated by a social aim and in a predominately caregiving role. Whereas the word entrepreneurship is achievement and purpose-focused – it’s a word that could handle balancing discussions around differences made with finance in mind.
Explain the possible benefits of becoming more entrepreneuring; The possible consequences of not becoming more initiating; And, what introducing would ‘look like’.
At an organizational level, the drivers are usually business survival and sustainability in a competitive marketplace. Some initiating non-profits are:
- Selling shared services to organizations inside and outside of their sector in order to raise income to reinvest in social needs;
- Building and selling private properties in order to raise income to reinvest in social housing; And,
- Implementing more innovative fundraising.
At a personal level – consider how roles could be more fulfilling, careers more marketable, and how effort and reward would be in balance. Working in a more entrepreneurial fashion is not working harder, just differently as decisions are made against different criteria.
Encourage Leaders to coach Managers on how to communicate a change in line with their values. Delegating is not about dumping work and messages!
Uncover why there is resistance and address it. What is the individual’s negative association with commercialism? A lack of integrity and trustworthiness is often associated with commercial businesses. This is not surprising given the bad press in recent years eg the incompetence, greed, and corruption, within Equitable Life, Enron, and Lehman Brothers. Moreover, the lack of transparency in the energy sector and the comparison websites are now being talked about and reported on.
Sadly we do not hear about the commercial organizations that are built on trust ex eBay and Paypal. We freely give personal payment information to them, trust that our details will remain secure, and items from complete strangers will be delivered. The positive news is not so well communicated!
So, if an entrepreneur way of working needs to be underpinned with trust, how do Leadership and Management Teams build trust with staff? What would this look like? One of my favorite examples is from South West Airline.
On Boss’s day in 1994, a full-page ad appeared I the USA Today. It was contracted and paid for by employees of Southwest Airlines, and it was addressed to Herb Kelleher, the company’s CEO:
For remembering every one of our names
For supporting the Ronald McDonald House
For helping load baggage on Thanksgiving
For giving everyone a kiss (and we mean everyone)
For running the only profitable airline
For singing at our holiday party
For singing only once a year
For letting us wear shorts and sneakers to work
For golfing at the LUV Classic with only one club
For out-talking Sam Donaldson
For riding your Harley Davidson into Southwest Headquarters
For being a friend, not just a boss
Happy Boss’s Day from Each One of Your 16,000 Employees
Here is someone who is highly competent, someone who has worked hard to connect with others, and someone with a character of integrity.
Ultimately, all employees really want leadership and management teams that they can respect and trust. There’s an old saying: To lead yourself, use your head, to lead others, use your heart. Always touch a person’s heart before you ask him for a hand.
It’s so much easier to shift organizational direction and embed change (such as working in a more entrepreneurial way) with the staff!
Achieve some quick wins to demonstrate the how and why of an introducing way of working. This builds belief and momentum.
Finally, with my organizational development hat on, skill up employees with the relevant knowledge, skills, and attitude, to deliver new ways of working; And ensure information, technology, and processes are enabling.
Do nonprofits need to be more introducing? Do for-profits need to be more charitable? I believe balancing these strengths is the answer. Have you noticed more and more commercial organizations are backing charitable causes? It’s certainly a way to build the skill of social responsibility and demonstrate same. Something nonprofits tend to excel at.