Lots of nonprofit organizations tend to “skip” the creation of cultural values for their organization. Are you one of them? If so, you may be missing a valuable opportunity to establish a tool that will help you more effectively identify and recruit board members, staff and volunteers who can best move your mission forward.
Most business management mantras will dictate that having the “right” team members is critical to the success of any organization. But, how do you know if your team members are the “right” ones? How do you evaluate or identify if a prospective team member understands and embodies the key values needed to realize your mission if you haven’t yet defined those values for the organization as a whole?
Take strategic planning, for instance. After confirming your vision and mission, it’s important to clarify your organization’s values – the “rules of engagement” for how your team (board members, staff, and volunteers) will treat each other, your donors and, most importantly, the men, women and children you serve. If your organization is fortunate to have a broad team with individuals independently working towards common strategic goals, its important that they share and abide by a core set of values to ensure that they can a) identify and recruit more of the “right” folks, as needed; b) meet minimal expectations for individual performance and c) create consistency in the interactions they each have with your organization’s various external stakeholders.Remember, too, that the work of a nonprofit (perhaps life, in general) rarely progresses in a linear fashion. Unforeseen and unexpected events pop up all the time. Having great policies in place will help you weather the worst case scenarios that may arise from most unforeseen events. But, what about that exceptional event that falls outside all of your policies? What then? Think of your organization’s values as an umbrella insurance policy for the work of your organization. When all other policies fail to provide adequate direction for a specific circumstance, your organizational values serve as an ultimate guide for each of your team members to help them make the very best decision possible.
To help you start the conversation about values within your organization, consider sharing this video: http://bigthink.com/videos/culture-at-30000-feet-above-ground from Dr. Frances Frei, Professor, Harvard Business School, and Anne Morriss, Chief Knowledge Officer of Concire Leadership Institute. (The video is directed to for-profit companies in the service industries; please remind your colleagues that every nonprofit is a service organization.)