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The PeopleCap Playbook

Timely insights and actionable people strategies for leaders.

Culture of Scarcity is Crushing the Nonprofit World

In another sector, alarm bells would be going off – talent is not keeping pace with technology and the strategic skills needed in a competitive, knowledge-based climate. Innovation is stifled, if alive at all. Spending is a bad word.

We’ve starved the nonprofit sector in the name of fiscal prudence grounded within the myth that running lean is a virtuous strategy. In the for-profit realm, we would expect overly anemic organizations to fold or completely reinvent themselves to oxygenate back to health. In the nonprofit world, we consider it a badge of honor to do more for less, chase our tails for a pittance, and live with the insecurity of our livelihoods failing to be renewed in the next grant cycle. Continue reading “Culture of Scarcity is Crushing the Nonprofit World”

History of Underinvestment in Talent

pothole and traffic cones in road

The nonprofit sector has a long history and culture of underinvesting in talent. In the name of financial stewardship and the doctrine of mission, nonprofit employees have existed within a culture where working harder for less money is a badge of honor. As admirable as this commitment to working for the benefit of our communities and others has been, over time the ratchet effect of lower wages in ever tightening budgets, lack of investment in professional development, and the organic burgeoning of nonprofit roles in which people continue to take on more and more responsibility without increase in compensation has led to the sector falling far behind in talent compensation. Continue reading “History of Underinvestment in Talent”

Leading Young Employees

baby in a necktie

A lot of leaders are struggling to lead young team members effectively. And sure, some of it relates to the Millennial generation. There are generational markers that shape our perspectives: My generation had MTV and Nintendo, Millennials have social media and smart phones. Those things definitely shape who we are. But I also think many of us Gen Xers were ambitious, impatient, wanting the world and quite convinced that we could be doing a better job in the CEO’s chair (okay, well I certainly was). Continue reading “Leading Young Employees”

Listening Is Therapy

red sofa therapy couch

While conducting interviews with employees for a client, one person leaned in at the close of the interview and said, “You’re so easy to talk to. Thank you so much – it feels like therapy!”

The great part was that this organization isn’t facing any issue of note and the interview was pretty basic, as interviews in my world go – nothing heavy or emotional came up. It’s not uncommon for people to respond this way following an hour telling me about their work lives, some even get a bit choked up or cry. Continue reading “Listening Is Therapy”

Don’t Let Your Team Sink

image by mellin paulo bernardo
image by mellin paulo bernardo

How We Miss Each Other Based on Differing Interpretations of Shared Experiences

When I coach teams struggling to build trust and get on the same page, I’ve started asking a new question: “What is the pressure on you and where does it come from?”

Over time I’ve learned that in many types of relationships we miss each other, just barely, due to misinterpretation of a shared experience – like ships passing. Continue reading “Don’t Let Your Team Sink”

People Drive Results

People drive results. They are the key ingredient for achieving nonprofit mission impact or its greatest impediment. If people are not performing at their highest potential, the organization isn’t either.

The buck stops with the ED. An Executive Director’s primary responsibility is to realize mission impact – primarily through other people – board, employees, volunteers, etc. Great leaders know how to mobilize, engage and grow their people to unlock their potential and maximize impact. Continue reading “People Drive Results”

Succession is Not About the Corner Office

Photo by Philipp Birmes
At some point, leadership transition is a reality for all companies. One HR executive I recently spoke to is concerned that her 300-person company has built such amazing employee loyalty that approximately 35% of their workforce will retire in the next five years! Another organization is concerned that their founder-based brand will not survive the CEO’s retirement. And the CEO of yet another larger company has unintentionally sparked a c-suite jousting match leaving his executive team more focused on positioning themselves for his crown than on working together to run the company.

Whether a leadership transition is imminent or a decade off, succession planning is not about identifying an eventual replacement for your CEO — it’s not about who winds up in the corner office. Continue reading “Succession is Not About the Corner Office”

Set the Stage for Gender Diversity

I recently walked into a client’s office and immediately thought, “Wow. Guys work here.” Everything from the décor and furniture to the lack of communal spaces screamed “Men’s Club.”

This client is determined to diversify his workforce and figure out how to recruit more people of color and women to their company. The CEO’s intent is genuine: he knows it’s the right thing to do and that his company’s future depends on building a more diverse workforce. With this goal in mind he has already begun taking some important steps toward gender inclusion including mentoring women and adopting more flexible workplace policies. Continue reading “Set the Stage for Gender Diversity”

Feedback Follow-Ups

Communication is most effective when it flows up and down a two-way street, without roadblocks. While this may seem elementary, many companies are just beginning to realize the value of employee feedback.

I was reminded of the power of open communication during a recent follow-up session with a client; despite major organizational changes the employee adaptation was swift, and the negative feedback was minimal. What was their secret? Company executives relied heavily on employee feedback and input when developing organizational changes, and implemented this feedback in meaningful ways. Continue reading “Feedback Follow-Ups”