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Got a minute?

When we think of organizational values, words like honesty, integrity, and service generally surface. Generosity is not commonly listed, unless it's United Way campaign time.

Yet, in the book, Change Anything, the authors give a nod to generosity when they discuss getting one’s career on track. Identifying what separates the best from the rest, they list three things: know your stuff, focus on the right stuff, and build a reputation for being helpful. 

They look to "Individuals who are singled out by their colleagues as the go-to folks in the company" and say that "people describe them as experts who are generous with their time."

We also know them by other descriptions: team players, mission-focused, and helpful. "Theirs is not primarily a self-serving motivation. Top people are widely known...because they help others solve their problems."

Of course, one pitfall here is trying to use generosity as a means of getting ahead. At the heart of it, generosity is about placing your focus outside self, outside organization, and on to the greater purpose, the greater cause. It may seem counterintuitive, but the more we focus on the greater goal beyond our organization, the better it is for our organization and career.

Another pitfall is helping so much that one’s own work doesn't get done. Certainly, boundaries must be observed. Remember, the second point above was "focus on the right stuff."

So, next time you hear someone say, "Got a minute?" hear it as an opportunity to connect with a colleague, further your mission, and contribute to a generous workplace culture.

Best,

Thom


Connections drive our work

At ONEplace, we define leadership as taking full ownership of one’s roles and responsibilities. This includes taking the initiative to:

  • Learn what you need to know
  • Building relationships necessary to be effective
  • Listening & learning from others as well as freely sharing with & teaching others what you know

Effective leadership in any position demands building and nurturing strong collaborative connections. These relationships not only increase one’s capacity to do an excellent job, but they tend to make work much more enjoyable.

Also, one of the quickest and easiest ways to increase your organization’s capacity is through building relationships. Most of us know from experience that working collaboratively with others creates synergy – a dynamic in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This works with teams within an organization as well as collaborations between organizations.

As you may have guessed, encouraging strong collaborative relationships within the nonprofit sector is one of our top strategies at ONEplace. We deliberately present workshops and other events to encourage, promote and opportunify strong collaborative connections, such as: solving problems together (Nov 4), nurturing young donors (Nov 5), connecting with nonprofit colleagues (Nov 18), or building a stronger board (Nov 20).

Make building strong collaborative connections part of your personal strategy. It will raise your awareness, and you’ll find that every day presents relationship-building opportunities.


Just ONEthing - Nov 2014

During our recent Supervision Series, Paul Knudstrup (Midwest Consulting Group) addressed an issue that plagues many managers: delegation

He recommended having clear criteria for what you can delegate (e.g., repetitive tasks) and what cannot be delegated (e.g., the top 10% of critical activities). Then, list your tasks and identify those that others can do. For each delegate-able task, identify who can do it and what training they would need.

When you approach the person, describe the task for them and let them do their own analysis of the task before you explain the details. This helps assess understanding and engagement. Secure their clear understanding of what’s being assigned and when it’s due, provide training, and then check-in early and often enough to make any necessary adjustments.

One final word: don’t snatch the task back. Once you delegate a task, work with them to get up to speed. It will take extra time in the short-term. In the long-term, it will not only save you time but help develop your staff.


Coffee with Michelle Karpinski

This month we sat down with Michelle Karpinksi who was named Executive Director of Pretty Lake Vacation Camp last spring after spending nine years as VP of Development at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. She connects the dots between her love for the outdoors and her leadership development.

Tell us how you got to where you are today

Coming to Pretty Lake was like coming home. I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors. I strayed from that in college and moved even further away during my early career in broadcasting. I rediscovered the outdoors during my years at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Working as their development officer I tapped into a deep-seated passion. This further developed as I spent time with my husband and sons in boy scouting. It all came together last spring – camping, hiking, nonprofit leadership – when I joined the staff at Pretty Lake. 

What do you most love about the Kalamazoo community? 

Kalamazoo is such a cool place. While growing up, we moved a lot, so I would not see many people I knew as I went around town. In Kalamazoo, I go almost anywhere and see people I know. It’s a vibrant community with much to do. It’s also a comfortable size – small enough and big enough.

What guides or principles do you rely most upon?

“Follow your heart.” I do my best to do the right thing for our community and for our kids. It’s not always easy, but it’s a good way to move forward.

What has been one of your biggest learning moments?

No one moment stands out. I’ve learned the most from those challenging moments during my career. I’ll do my best and then take time to evaluate: what went well, what I could do better next time. We did this as a team at the Nature Center after having faced a challenging customer service issue. Taking time to evaluate and learn from the experience has informed my life and career.

What’s an average day like for you at work?

I’m still figuring that out! The typical day is different from season to season, but it’s always busy.

What are the types of challenges/opportunities that keep you up at night?

There is so much need in the community, I’m continually trying to figure out a way for Pretty Lake to fill that need. We have kids coming to us for summer camp, but they take away so much more than a fun camp experience. The power of the outdoors helps them do better in the classroom and get along better outside the classroom. It also opens them up to experiences they’ve never had before and the opportunity to see themselves succeeding differently than they would in a classroom.

How do you stay up-to-date on latest trends in your field?

I read – a lot. I have sites I follow online plus I take advantage of area conferences. As a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) with the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), I need to get my CEU’s to stay current. That drives a portion of my professional development. Since becoming an executive director, the new challenges now on my plate also drive much of my learning. My motto is: stay open and embrace change.

What advice do you have for those wishing to have a long lasting career in the nonprofit sector?

Find that thing that gets your juices flowing. Nonprofit careers are not the path to wealth but they offer a path to a rich life, and that path is easier is your passion is engaged. Many jobs (e.g., development) require a skill set that can be used in a variety of settings (university, arts, outdoors), but a job that doesn’t tap into your passion will burn you out. Build your skills and connect with your passion.

What hobby or outside interests do you really like?

I enjoy backpacking, snowboarding, and biking (all outdoors, of course).


You are here

Sometimes the first step is recognizing that there is a first step.

At work, at home, and elsewhere, there are times when I find myself at odds with the situation before me. I’m stuck…befuddled. When I don’t know where to turn, I find that there is one thing that will turn me back around.

Acceptance

Once I accept (i.e., acknowledge) that I am stuck then I know where I am. It drops a pin on the map of my emotional journey, allowing me to better see possible routes out of my funk.

My common sticky places vary from navigating situations that try my values to managing people that try my patience, from my own short-fused stress to long-term challenges of self-care.

In her brief article, 5 Ways to Bring Compassion to Your Working Life, attorney Sara Tollefson describes recent lesson she learned around using compassion to provide better client services. She suggests living your core values, practicing self-care, modeling emotional intelligence and more. I find these to be key to avoid getting stuck.

By taking a moment to observe the landscape and locate myself on it, I find a foothold and can choose to move in a new direction.

Compassion, forgiveness, these are the real, ultimate sources of power for peace and success in life. Dalai Lama


A Good Time to Grow


Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/taniwha/ used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Cropped from original

Coffee is one of my passions. Why did I become someone with a preferred brewing method and blend? Two reasons: first, relevance--as a college student, coffee became an essential part of my dietary intake, and I grew more interested in what, exactly, I was drinking. Second, my environment; I lived in Ann Arbor surrounded by top-notch cafes and friends eager to find the perfect cappuccino.

Looking back, so many other things came from being in a coffee shop, discussing personal victories and difficulties. I often wish there was a place that we could easily gather now, though the content and depth of our concerns have changed. Current conversations with friends often center on our workplace experiences, and how best to navigate them. If you’re a so-called millennial, you’ve probably come across some of the challenges and rewards specific to full-time work. Why not have a space to tackle some of those things together, especially because the livelihood and success of new professionals is relevant to everyone. Emerging leaders eventually emerge—managing organizations and sitting on boards. Thus, support and guidance will benefit our community as a whole.

 So, let’s make this blog space an environment ripe for developing new professionals. I want to engage digital conversations around how to be more effective, confident, and prepared for advancement. I will post about great books, tools, technologies, or community events. As the facilitator, my goal isn’t to be right, but rather to share, discuss, and grow with readers. I invite your participation, so please leave comments and share your insights.

 If you have an idea or a trend you’d like to see featured here, please drop me a line. I invite all suggestions – even if you prefer tea.


Pinned

Meetings.

(Now, how do you feel?)

Opinions fall all over the map related to meetings. Many meetings waste time and money while others hold critical work.

The con side of the debate presents Jason Fried. His TEDx talk, Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work, boasts over 3 million views. He sets out a situation of needless interruption and worthless reporting and then places the blame at the collective feet of managers and meetings. He goes overboard (a bit) but raises points that warrant our consideration.

On the pro side of the debate sits Patrick Lencioni. In his book, The Advantage, he makes the case for having more meetings. He prefers single topic meetings with only the necessary people present. Review his Five Tips for Better Meetings in light of your current meeting practices.

Regardless where you pin yourself on the meeting map, you know that you have a next meeting coming soon. Why not make it a better experience for all concerned.

Best,

Thom


Coffee with John Dillworth

This month we visited with John Dillworth, President/CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southwest Michigan. John gives us his insights on how he looks beyond what’s immediately evident and stays true to himself.

Tell us how you got to where you are today (positions held, career shifts, etc).

I ended up as President/CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan because I have a son with a disability called Fragile X Syndrome. If he hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here today. I graduated from WMU with a Business degree and a major in advertising in 1979 and immediately went to work with Kellogg’s as a sales representative in Detroit. While in Detroit, I got my MBA from the University of Detroit and was put in charge of Foodservice sales in the NY Metropolitan area in 1985. In 1987, I was moved to Long Island, NY in charge of Retail sales for most of the NY Metro area.   In 1989, I was promoted to Director, Foodservice & Government sales and moved to the Kalamazoo area. I never expected to last long in a corporate HQ environment – but 50% travel probably contributed to the ability to do so. That travel was affecting my son’s schooling (he needed consistency) and I was tired of it as well so in October, 1999 I went to my boss at Kellogg and asked for his help in moving to a job that didn’t require the travel and his response was “we like you doing what you’re doing.” The following Sunday, the job for President/CEO was posted in the Kalamazoo Gazette and here I am.

What do you most love about the Kalamazoo community?

The Gilmore Keyboard festival is why we stayed. After attending the first events in the early 90’s I told my boss at Kellogg’s I wasn’t moving again. This isn’t something I’d recommend to folks climbing the career ladder but it was right for us.

What guides or principles do you rely most upon? 

People are individuals and should be treated as unique. Our federal and state programs – even the media likes to lump people together.   It’s just wrong. Everything we are doing is about recognizing that every person has abilities and strengths and we’re going to help them change their lives – hence our vision – changing the world, one life at a time.

What has been one of your biggest learning moments?

When I went to Germany after the fall of the wall and bases were closing everywhere. A German military attaché got up in a presentation with worldwide media present and said “Americans need to continue their presence in Germany because we can’t be trusted.” That never made the papers. Ever since that day, I don’t trust the media to deliver the “full” story on anything. You have to look beneath the headlines for the truth – generally, just follow the money and you’ll find it.

What’s an average day like for you at work?

My job is to eliminate the barriers for others doing their jobs. That’s what I try to do every day.

What are the types of challenges/opportunities that keep you up at night?

These days, I sleep very well. In the past, I had two situations that kept me up at night. The first was raising the money to renovate the building we’re in and secondly, looking for a way out of participating in the federal and state workforce development systems as they focused on “closing cases” vs. placing people in employment. Both of those issues are no longer problems.

How do you stay up-to-date on latest trends in your field?

Read and read and read and don’t just read about your field. The latest trends in any field generally come from outside your daily frame of reference. Pay attention to Japan and California – especially California. What’s happening there will happen here whether you like it or not so get ready.

What advice do you have for those wishing to have a long lasting career in the nonprofit sector?

Don’t plan on a long lasting career – plan on making a difference in the lives of people every day. If you do that, you’ll have a long lasting career.

What do you geek (i.e., what hobby or outside interests do you really like)?

Piano. I played last week in a little Northern Michigan town in a barn with a bunch of folks playing a bunch of country songs (I’ve played just about everything but country) that I hadn’t heard and people were just so grateful we were there – the audience was right out of Northern Exposure. Music is a lot of fun as long as people don’t take it too seriously.

Anything else?

Life is a lot of fun as long as people don’t take it too seriously. This is just one chapter in our schooling. Lots of lessons to learn.


Clarity over certainty

One lesson regularly presents itself to me in a variety of forms – the importance of clarity over and above certainty.

Without going into all the gory details, suffice it to say that processes have stalled waiting for every last fact to be gathered, people have adorned their arguments with extraneous and jargonistic detail to prove the absolute rightness of their point of view, and meetings have been endlessly prolonged while meaningless minutia was debated. It’s exhausting!

In his book, The Five Temptations of a CEO, Patrick Lencioni names “choosing certainty over clarity” as temptation number three. While he affirms the importance of working with good information, he argues that many of us (CEO or not) take pride in our analytical skills and keen insights. Consequently, we spend too much time honing even-more-finely-detailed analyses into conclusions that get a nod but don’t move our organizations forward. Further, the higher impact issues before the group are left to the final few minutes of an already-too-long meeting.

Clarity, in contrast, means that you take a stand, and people understand the argument being made. They know points on which they agree and, perhaps more important, points on which they disagree. To speak clearly, however, requires us to set aside our fear of being wrong (or, at least, not-completely-right) and willingly invite others to challenge and improve our arguments.

Also, clarity makes accountability possible. Clarity of mission and purpose as well as clarity on individual roles and responsibilities means everyone knows why we exist, where we’re headed and who’s doing what. Everyone knows what’s expected and each person participates in keeping the organization on track.

In the study, Fearless Journeys, the researchers describe how several orchestras took on innovative ideas to invigorate their organizations. In the closing, the writer observed that what made all the difference was NOT the choice each made, but the fact that they dared to choose.

Best,

Thom


Glad you asked

A frequent question at ONEplace is some version of: how do I deal with this person?

Supervision is something many of us do, yet few (if any) of us received formal education in supervising. Instead, we learn “on the job” or through work-related training opportunities.

And we want this training. Our upcoming Supervision Series is already filled and each session has a waiting list. This tells me that more and more people are interested in becoming better managers.

One key to excellent management is asking the right questions. Good questions will improve your decision making, increase employee engagement, and build a more knowledgeable workforce. Check out Gary Cohen’s article on Just Ask Leadership (based upon his book). It provides a primer on how to ask the right questions.

To further support your work, we’ll unveil our Management Track in a couple of weeks. This ongoing series of workshops explores issues and skills critical to the work of management and supervision. And, wouldn’t you know it, many of these skills hinge on asking the right questions.

Check out the article and watch for our Management Track announcement later this month. Also, ask more questions – you’ll be glad you did.

Best,

Thom