– David Burkus
We tracked down David Burkus, the author of the new book Under New Management, and spoke to him about how we can overhaul our understanding of what organizational management should look like. David was interviewed by Todd Greer, the Managing Editor for Nonprofit Performance Magazine. This is part 2 of our interview. Read part 3 on Friday.
Todd Greer: As we look at how Under New Management operates within the confines of the social sector, the nonprofit sector, there are some really intriguing pieces. You suggest that we should be putting customers second and employees first. What might that look like in the nonprofit sector when we are talking about the importance of catering to our donor bases and taking care of volunteers?
David Burkus: The nonprofit sector has an interesting dynamic in that you can define customers in two different ways. To some extent, you can do this in the for-profit sector in a publicly traded company. Customers are both the actual customers and potential shareholders. Whether it’s for profit, nonprofit, or public sector (like education), there is a growing realization that customer satisfaction is a result of employee satisfaction, particularly satisfaction in the area of the value zone. The value zone is any job or activity that interacts with the customers, mostly on the front line, but there are others as well. But we don’t act that way.
When we draw an organizational chart, we draw it from the top down. But the number one criticism of a lot of nonprofits has to do with overhead or senior people getting paid too much. Those complaints resonate most in organizations where it really is apparent that there is a guiding elite class that is not necessarily taking care of the people who interact with the customers, whether that be the donor base or the people actually served.
There is an idea that accountability, in order to best serve the needs of donors or the people that the nonprofit serves, should not be built from the bottom to the top – meaning the front line people are accountable to the senior leaders who are getting paid a lot or a little. Instead, every management role should be a support role for those people who are interacting and being the hands and feet of the organization. When that happens in organizations for which overhead is crazy, we don’t hear that complaint. Why? Because the people we are interacting with, the donors and customers, know that there is value created there. We get it. We would call that a much more humane organization.
Especially in faith-based nonprofits, we use this term of hands and feet. There is an idea that the brain or the other functions of the body ought to be serving those hands and feet because the only way people know about us is through our hands and feet.
Todd: That is a real reframing. Obviously, it’s a big challenge and change in the for-profit world, as well. It turns our attention to how we come into contact with people. It’s rarely the senior management. It’s very much the front line.
David: In most nonprofits, the front line is actually volunteers. If the volunteers, meaning the people not on salary, are the ones that are mostly interacting, what are we doing to create a good volunteer experience, in addition to a good donor experience and a good experience serving our constituents?
A lot of the donor class, in addition to giving money, also volunteers. What are we doing to create a positive experience for them? Most of the nonprofits that I know think that turnover and volunteer burn-out is a reality that we need to face, and I think it’s because they haven’t actually looked at the fact that the volunteers are the value zone. They are the hands and feet.
David Burkus, author of The Myths of Creativity, LDRLB, and Under New Management, writes for The Creativity Post and 99U. His passion is leadership, innovation, strategy, and the transfer of good ideas. Find him at http://davidburkus.com, Twitter @davidburkus, or Facebook/drdavidburkus
This article is reprinted from Vol. 3, No. 2, of Nonprofit Performance Magazine. Subscribe today.
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Tonight, April 25, 2017, the topic is “Profit is Not a Dirty Word!” as Hugh Ballou interviews David Dunworth on branding and marketing for charities.
David Dunworth has been involved with nonprofits for many years and knows how branding and marketing are an integral piece of connection to stakeholders. He is a life-long learner and an expert in marketing. He’s an International best-selling author. His site is http://marketingpartnersllc.com
Here are tonight’s #nonprofitchat questions for Twitter and Facebook
Q1. What is a brand, and why is having a good brand important for a nonprofit?
Q2. What happens when our brand image or brand promise is abandoned?
Q3. How can leaders illuminate themselves to be more effective in leadership?
Q4. How do we continually live the brand?
For more information on the weekly #nonprofitchat programs, go to http://nonprofitchat.org. We’ll “see” YOU on the call. Join the conversation on ZOOM https://zoom.us/j/436302868 or watch the live stream on Facebook