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Hello everyone,

I'm quite new to Manager Tools and just can't get enough; both the podcasts and web site are extremely informative and well-organized.

I was wondering if Mark and Mike would ever consider doing a show on managing in the not-for-profit sector. I'm in higher education, where very few people in management positions have management training. Professors take stints in the leadership roles (e.g., Director or Chair of a department) and then move on to another department or resume their normal duties. This leads to some problems.

This is also a unionized environment, which is another topic I'd be interested in.

Do other readers work in non-profit sector? Does it differ from other organizations?

Thanks

GlennR's picture

I've worked for decades in the nonprofit sector (voluntary health org) and find M-T extremely relevant. That may be because my org is extremely goal-oriented and mission-driven; it could be different in an educational setting. But I believe, that since the topic here is human behavior as it relates to management, the principles espoused here apply nearly everywhere.

I think of these as "Laws of Management" similar to Laws of Physics. No matter your environment or sector, they apply. Mark recently referred to the "Manager's Trinity as being, coaching, feedback, and one-on-ones. That really hit home with me and I believe it applies in all sectors.

BTW, the deficiencies you mention exist in all sectors (I've spent time in the business sector as well).

Regards,

Glenn

Mark's picture

I've done a great deal of non-profit consulting - government, military, hospitals, and charities. Union and non-union.

All management is the same. Government generally is least effective, hospitals have too many constraints, and charities are woefully under-managed, though in some cases at least have a clear mission.

There's no appreciable difference. In 50 years, if managers are held to a standard, there might be a distinction that's noticeable. But not today.

So, all our casts are intended for non-profit, and all those other sectors. If you're responsible for the output of others, and you're within two standard deviations of the mean, Manager Tools applies.

Mark

pneuhardt's picture

I've worked in not-for-profits as well as government and union shops, and the only difference I see is not in how management should be conducted but in the [i]perception of how it can be conducted[/i]. If a manager buys in to the concept that good management is either ineffective or inappropriate in a particular environment, then that will be the case.

Every industry presents unique challenges, and so does every individual organization within an industry. Every now and again approaches have to be altered slightly for your circumstances. But on the grand scale, right is right and wrong is wrong. Do the right thing and good results will almost always follow.

jprlopez's picture

Hi R.

Coming from the profit sector and being in the non-profit for the last 2 years I can say that personal adherence to MT teaching actually becomes more important in the non-profit.

With relationships and community building playing a big factor in the non-profit organization I belong to, it becomes critical to not approach management as a one size fits all solution but to really focus on individuals. Being more aware of what is effective and not.

Another thing I noticed in the organization I am in is that the career ladder is pretty shallow... meaning its relatively easy to see someone in the trenches rise up to manager or even VP levels in a short span of time.

Cheers
Joseph

edwardthomas2's picture

I agree that solid management skills/techniques are needed across all spheres. I also have found that there are some differences between managing a non-profit and a for-profit. Peter Drucker has addressed some of these quite well in his book on the management of non-profits.

imho: in general terms, product and process influence one another, and the products of non-profits are often quite different from those of for profits.

Mark's picture

Ed-

Okay, I'll bite: sure, the products are different, as for profit companies' are... what about management is different? What are your thoughts about Drucker's point of view?

Mark

edwardthomas2's picture

For one thing, Drucker posited that employees in non-profits should be treated differently than those in for-profits. I won't pretend to be able to describe the reason for this as eloquently as he does in his writings, but the essence goes something like this:
Employees in non-profits work in that setting because they have a belief system that matches well with the field that employs them. Also, they tend to be paid less than those in for-profit settings. Therefore, they are entitled to more leeway in judging their fitness for the job. This is translated into a higher number of chances to learn to do things right, and to the possibility of finding them another position within the organization that better suits their abilities if they run out of chances to perform well in their first position.

There is more, but without having his book on non-profit management in front of me I hesitate to try to restate it at the moment.

I have long believed that there are differences (some subtle, some not) between managing in a for-profit setting vs. a non-profit setting (hence the npmanagement web site) but the same wide range of management techniques must be mastered in order to do either well.

Mark's picture

Ed-

Many thanks. Please do continue to share with us your thoughts here. I think I am often broad-brushed in my approach to management, which can lead to misunderstandings regarding subtleties.

Mark

rthibode's picture

Thanks for your replies everyone. I'll check out Drucker -- what Edward says is certainly true of professors (they get more leeway but less pay), but the opposite is true for staff at the university. On the whole, administrative assistants are relatively well-paid with excellent benefits and job security.

One of the differences between non-profit and for-profit that led me to post my question is the way that pay increases work. The staff (not professors) at the university enter a new position at Level 1. The pay increase is automatic every year until level 5, and then it stops except for small % raises negotiated in collective bargaining (everyone gets this too). Pay increases are not linked to performance.

Of course, money's not everything. In theory, there is a negative incentive (avoid getting fired) and a positive incentive (job well done, positive feedback). In practice, no one ever gets fired.

In terms of promotion, it's more complicated. A manager can't promote you. Every new job has to be first classified by HR, then put up for competition. Of course good performers will get good references from their managers, but often so will bad performers. Sometimes this is seen as the only way to get rid of them -- pass them on to some other department.

Does this sort of pay and promotion structure exist in the for-profit sector?

aspiringceo's picture

I also work in the voluntary/not for profit sector but have also worked in the public and private sector.

[quote]but the opposite is true for staff at the university. On the whole, administrative assistants are relatively well-paid with excellent benefits and job security. [/quote]

I would have to agree with that, on the whole staff are well paid and here in the UK are often better paid then their counterparts in the private sector.

[quote]The staff (not professors) at the university enter a new position at Level 1. The pay increase is automatic every year until level 5, and then it stops except for small % raises negotiated in collective bargaining (everyone gets this too). Pay increases are not linked to performance.[/quote]

Agreed, and this I think is the big problem, as you can just sit back if you want. I also think thats its unfair that a manager with 6 directs gets the same pay as the manager with 1 or in some cases none. I have gone as far as suggesting that incremental pay rises be based on annual appraisal but cant get it implemented as it would need board and union approval. which in the case of the union would be like asking turkeys to vote for christmas. I worked for one non profit that offerd a salary +/- 10% prp but in all my time there I never saw anybody have their salary reduced.

[quote]In practice, no one ever gets fired [/quote]
And when you do try to fire someone you run in to all sort of trade union nonsense

[quote] In terms of promotion, it's more complicated. A manager can't promote you. Every new job has to be first classified by HR, then put up for competition. Of course good performers will get good references from their managers, but often so will bad performers. Sometimes this is seen as the only way to get rid of them -- pass them on to some other department. [/quote]

I cant even get my HR to look at rewriting job descriptions, because "thats the way they are" and it would need board and union approval

I dont know if I agree with Druckers argument that employees are entitled to more leeway in judging their fitness for the job. if they cant do the job effectively despite 1o1, feedback, coaching and mentoring then we should call it a day.

[quote]Does it differ from other organizations? I sometimes wonder if things are better elsewhere . . . [/quote]

Although the grass seems greener on the other side, I'm sure for profits have the same or similar issues. When you use great sites like MT its easy to think that "corporate America" is wonderfull but if it is why does this great resource exist

pneuhardt's picture

This discussion seems to be turning towards the compensation and career options for managers in non-profit, academic and for-profit organizations. I don't think there is much question that the career options for any one manager are quite different in each type of organization. Having worked in (or been married to someone working in) all three environments, this seems pretty clear.

Even with that, I would say that good management practices (feedback, one-on-ones, effective communications, giving effective reviews, personal organization, etc.) are pretty much the same across all those environments.

If there is a difference, I would say that it comes in how much influence you have in your ability to build a high-performing team. The fewer options you have in either motivating existing team members (and money is a motivator) or in changing the make-up of the team (hiring and firing) then the less effective you can be in improving the overall team performance. This is a difference in the results you can expect to achieve through good maangement, not a difference in what is good management. It's a subtle difference, but it is a difference.

At that point, your own motivation to do good work has to come from within. Or, it's time to look to move to another sector of the working world.

jprlopez's picture

[quote="rthibode"]
In practice, no one ever gets fired, and believe me it's not because the managers are using effective feedback and coaching! [/quote]

I don't know if I should be sad or I should take comfort that this is happening in other non-profit organizations.

I remember one thing my boss' boss said about how difficult it was to get yourself fired in our organization. I use that as license/motivation to do what I think is the most effective way to get the job done.

profit organizations have their own share of organizational issues in general and specific to organizations....

there was an article I read somewhere (it escapes me though) that it would be beneficial to non-profits to adopt professionalism of profit orgs and for profit orgs to adopt the passion of non-profits.

Joseph

edwardthomas2's picture

Guess I should clarify what I said about Drucker's position on non-profits. My impression of what he wrote was that employees in non-profits should be given a little extra time/training to become competent in their jobs. Not that they should never be fired.

For those who say that their non-profit won't fire people who really should be let go - I'm wondering if the situation falls into one of the three categories I've seen most often in the not-for-profit sector when this issue comes up:
1) Management is too "social-worky" & thinks they can "save" all employees.
2) The manager is a nurse/social worker/teacher/etc first, and a manager second - and is afraid of legal repercussions because he/she has little knowledge of employment law and is not sure what procedure to follow in order to show that there has been due process.
3) The HR department won't sign off on the termination (a requirement in many larger organizations - whether for-profit or non-profit) because they assume the manager in question was too impatient and didn't work hard enough to train/orient the employee; and/or, they don't see enough evidence that there was due process.

BTW, I do agree that non-profits have historically tended to be too slow to terminate poor employees. The thing I've found most effective in changing this is to remind them of the damage that a poor employee can do to their often vulnerable clientèle.

andrewmullens's picture

Nice to know there's some other non-profit managers out there listening to managers tools.

I tend to think that the important difference is not the profit/non-profit dichotomy, but the competitive/non-competitive environment. Government bodies in particular can be so lax and unproductive, but, they can stay in business becuase there is no competition. On the other hand, many charity orginisations operate in a really cut throat world of competition these days, and many are run very well now in order to keep up. In Government there is ultimatey minimal incentive for change and improvement, but the risks of doing chnge wrongly can be massive.

I work in a Government Department in Ausutralia in a policy area, and can certainly identify with the pattern and perception that "nobody gets fired" that others have been talking about. In our case this is a built up culture, reinforced by many patterns. However, the most important is that often an employee doesn't work against established goals and standards, and performance isn't measured. In other words you can't fire someone for poor performance if you don't know how their performance could be defined(little lone meaured).

This is sometimes caused because the work we do is very difficult to boil down to metrics. The dollar bottom line is not meaninful. Overall counts of work or time taken are not always meaningful, often we don't ever perform the same task twice. Usually quality of output is impossible to define. Often when metrics are used, they are completely the wrong ones, and are just grabbed because we happened to have collected the data.

I would be intrigued to hear from other managers who face the problem of working in an environment where the quality of acheivment is difficult to define.