Would Your Team Make the Sweet Sixteen for Nonprofit March Madness Based on Performance?

March 21, 2018

If you answered "yes" then we'll catch you at the next Conversations session in April:)

If you answered no, then let's have a Conversation!

LeBron James, Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, Karli Lloyd, Sylvia Fowles…you know their names, and you watch them play, but how do they lead their team to victory?

In professional sports, developing a performance management system might seem less challenging than creating one in your nonprofit organization.  Seems pretty cut-and-dry, right?  The team either wins or loses.  Done.

The nonprofit sector is far from different.

Winning may result in a higher profile, better funding, stronger connections and losses that usually result in less funding, poor program quality and diminished overall capacity.

Your team needs to train, review and evaluate their past performance, have the equipment they need and possess excellent communication skills across the organization to ensure everyone knows the play.  And remember, EVERYONE has a bad game once in awhile... 

As the coach, it is incumbent upon you to develop strategies that develop your team.  It is the only way to victory!

How do you get there? 


During the onboarding process, many organizations go through the basic of training on technology, data systems, client flow and staff protocols but how often is the overall plan for the agency included?  I have found not often, and without the employee understanding how they fit into the strategy, it can be hard for them to appreciate how valuable their work is to the success of the organization.

So my first tip is to make sure your onboarding process includes a review of the overall agency vision, mission, goals, and objectives and how their work as an employee filters up to the goals.

In my experience, nonprofit leaders find it hard to set-aside time in the hectic pace of a nonprofit organization and spend time reviewing the agency goals with new staff, let alone helping your team understand how their role needs to function for the team to succeed.  However, it is hard to build a winning team culture when some of the players don't understand the play.

Once the employee understands their place in the plan, clarify your expectations of them in their role and how the strategies of the plan align with their work.  From here, you should help them develop their own goals for the year and set the expectation of them to have the goals updated during the performance review process.

Let's use a basketball analogy.  The coach has a win/loss goal for the team for the season, so he/she crafts their practices, plays, scouting and player recruitment based on that idea.  Also, each player also has their own goals for the season and bases those goals on their performance from the last season.  Thinking of these goals is usually what would lead a player to add their own shooting practice time, polish up their free-throws, or perhaps invest in new shoes.  Both are working towards a winning season. 


Once an employee has designed their personal goals, scheduling regular check-ins is really important.  Let's think about the basketball team analogy again.  If a coach only conducted check-ins on the teams' stats and the personal stats once a year, many of us would think that was odd.  Can you imagine an announcer during a free-throw saying, "Well Bob, LeBron is at the line, but we have no idea how he has performed in the past, let's cross our fingers and see if he makes it?"

My point is that performance management needs to be a part of the organization's culture more often than once or twice a year and might even need to be once a month.  Your team needs feedback to know where they are doing well and where they are falling short.  It might be more feasible to be quarterly or every-other-month, but more than once or twice a year.


And never miss a moment to celebrate success at both the organizational level and the personnel level, here's how.

Want to learn more?

Join Dr. Adriennie Hatten and me for a Conversation on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, @ 9:00am-10: 30 am via webinar in partnership with the Foundation Center Midwest.

Can't make it?  Email me, and we'll have a conversation:  allison.ascend@gmail.com