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Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Fix It Or Forget It?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

“I’m not recognized for my full potential” is a common problem that clients bring to me when trying to ascertain whether they should begin a job search or not.  How DO you get the boss to appreciate your talents?

Audrey* was hired as a temp, working for a nonprofit organization in a marketing assistant position. Even after a year of showing her talents, the organization maintained her employee status as “long-term temp” rather than hiring her as a permanent employee, which would have provided her with more benefits as well as a pay increase.

There was no denying that Audrey had skills and intelligence, however, and at the end of her second year, she was finally made a permanent employee at the organization.

Although Audrey was pleased with this “promotion,” by this time, she had begun doing the work of an Assistant Manager in Marketing, rather than a Marketing Assistant, and started asking for a promotion, to no avail.

In her third year, she brought an idea to management for what turned out to be a very successful mobile marketing app, and it took a lot of Audrey’s pushing to get it adopted.  Once it was, however, there was no denying that Audrey knew what she was doing!

Audrey felt that there would be no better time than to ride this wave of success and – once again – asked her director about a promotion.  This time when she was turned down, she decided to Forget It! and approached me about starting a job search elsewhere.

Audrey always felt especially close to the nonprofit world, but I pointed out that her marketing skills were also transferable to the corporate world as well, and asked her if she was open to interviewing there, too.  It hadn’t occurred to her, but knowing how tight the job market is, she didn’t want to rule out any possibilities.

After nearly a year of interviewing, Audrey got an offer with a corporation, which turned out to be double her nonprofit salary, including other perks and benefits that she didn’t have at her current position.

When she told her director that she was leaving for another position, he was stunned and responded with remorse, going on and on about how he couldn’t bear to lose her.  He asked her what the new position paid, because he would try to match it and give her a promotion!  “I couldn’t believe it when he said that!” Audrey was incredulous.  “That’s what I wanted in the first place!  Why couldn’t he have said that a year ago?”

In the end, when her director discovered that she had been offered double her salary, he confessed that he couldn’t go high enough to match that, but did try to counter with something much higher than her current salary.  In the end, he offered to contract with her as a consultant to develop more apps in the future, even though she was leaving.

“I don’t understand why he couldn’t have just demonstrated my worth to me while I was there,” Audrey says.  “It would have saved me almost a year’s worth of interviews, and them having to replace a person!  Still, I am pleased to be making more money, of course, but I never would have started looking if he’d just shown some effort to keep me!”

Brian* worked for a satellite office of a national nonprofit, and his director wasn’t interested in his career goals at all.  Brian had been with the organization for a couple of years, and although he demonstrated success with his assignments, he didn’t seem to be able to move beyond them into anything else.  The people at his regional office – including his director – had all been there for some time, and weren’t amenable to trying new things.  They were more likely to say, “This is the way we’ve always done it.”

Brian attended every training that national offered to the regional offices, and lobbied as hard as he could to be included in some additional optional events.  During the various events, he made a point to meet and network with as many national staff members as possible.  After, he would follow up with them, not only by connecting on LinkedIn, but joining in online discussion groups, sharing relevant articles via email, and so forth, throughout the year.

By monitoring the job listings at the national office, Brian was eventually was able to Fix It! when he applied for a similar position at headquarters.  Not only was he qualified, but he was connected enough with the people that he knew specifically who to send his resume and cover letter to, in addition to HR, when applying for the position(s) he wanted.

Brian discovered that in addition to being more forward thinking and appreciative of his creativity and initiative, the national office valued his perspective that he brought from the regional office.  This allowed them to better address the needs of the satellite staff members.

Relocating to national headquarters was not only beneficial to Brian in terms of a raise and promotion, but also helped with maintaining longevity with the same employer on his resume, which he preferred to do.  Most importantly, though, Brian wanted to work with people who would listen to his ideas and have some of their own, and he found this in his new location.

Do you have a Fix It or Forget It? story to share?  Send it to me, and it might help others.  Identifying features will be altered prior to publishing.

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Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
—  Rita Mae Brown

Similar Posts:

Does My Manager Believe In Me?

What Are You Learning?

April* and Benjamin* have managers at opposite ends of the attention spectrum

My Director Will Never Go For That

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

It’s conference season. Too often, I’ve witnessed a person in a session, hearing a great idea being presented – and then turning to me and saying, “I’d LOVE to do that at my place, but my director will never go for it,” typically followed by a sigh.

Don’t get me wrong . . . I don’t claim to know their director or their organization.

But, this person presumably attended this session to learn more about the topic at hand – and while we’ve all had difficult bosses to work with, this person has already cleared a substantial hurdle:  they’ve been sent to a conference to learn more about their field!  A lot of people I speak with would love to be in their shoes!

Whenever you’re approaching your director with a new idea it always pays to put yourself in their shoes first.  What is the likely response?  More importantly, why?  If the answer is no – why is it no?  Is it due to additional cost, staff time, or something else?

You can’t address an objection effectively if you don’t know what the objection is to begin with.

For example, when I speak at sessions about Incorporating Online Giving With Direct Mail, a reason people often give me that their leadership doesn’t want to add online giving has more to do with ignorance:  I wouldn’t give my credit card number over the web, and I don’t think our constituents really want to, either.”

A way to combat this argument is with a one-two punch:  First, by demonstrating industry standards – showing results of a study that demonstrate how pervasive online giving is, regardless of age, for example.  This can be followed up by results of the organization’s own online giving results to counter another common, but ignorant objection:  “That may be true for that population, but it doesn’t apply to our constituents.”  (We’re different.)

It’s also essential to realize that even if you’ve heard – or had – the best idea in the world, it probably isn’t realistic to expect that absolutely everything is going to go your way and be fully implemented immediately.  Once you accept this, you can prioritize your requests and ask for the most important aspects first.  Change can be difficult for people to accept, and it doesn’t always have to do with the price tag.

This is why tracking is so vital.  When you return with tangible, visible results of the success that your proposal is starting to yield, NOW is the time to request that Stage 2 be implemented, and so on.

Of course, you can get these ideas from many sources – not just attending conferences.  You might be inspired from reading various related websites, blogs, taking online training courses, as well as old fashioned networking.  Each person must use the resources they have available to them.

A few days of exposure to the full throttle of session after session at a conference can leave one with a combination of being inspired and overwhelmed, though, when seeing what other very successful organizations are doing with their campaigns.  The thought of trying to implement such changes into your program with staff and/or officers who are resistant to change can even bring about anxiety.

Here are all these wonderful campaigns, strategies and tools – but how will you take them back and implement them, you wonder?  What if you are also lacking the staff and/or budget that they have?  It can seem daunting, if not impossible.

Taking notes during the sessions on how they began their campaigns is always a good idea, as well as asking questions about how difficulties were handled along the way, since all projects have them.  Most presenters welcome being contacted after their sessions, so be sure to take down their information for follow up questions later.

If I don’t see you at NTEN or AFP International in Chicago, perhaps we’ll meet up Pittsburg next month, or Richmond this July, when I am presenting about online giving again?  I can also be reached via my LinkedIn button below.

If you really do have a director who refuses to try anything new – ever – regardless of the idea’s merit, then perhaps it’s time you asked yourself if you should Fix It Or Forget It?  Where do you see your career headed, and can your current position take you there?

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