A paycheck is one thing most workers have in common. Reporting to work — and doing a good job — is tied to that

basic fact. It is a motivator in the most basic way. Choose to spend

too many work days reading on the deck instead of reporting in, and

it may soon become difficult to make the mortgage, or feed the babies.

Do mediocre work, and the bonus that funds the yearly vacation might

cover only Great Adventure, not a great adventure.

While the economic carrot is no guarantee of award-winning work, most

managers count on it to at least get the troops in the door and the

work out. There is one sector, however, that must achieve results

without offering a paycheck to the some, or even all, of its workers.

It is the non-profit sector, and working within it differs

significantly

from working for a for-profit organization. “Managing lots of

unpaid people is a challenge,” says Marge Smith. “Staff

members may have to supervise 30 to 50 people, all of them

unpaid.”

Smith teaches a six-part course on Human Resources Development for

Non-profits on Mondays beginning on November 5 at 7 p.m. at Mercer

County Community College. Cost: $119. Call 609-586-9446.

Smith was executive director of the Princeton YWCA from 1990 to 1998.

She teaches a number of courses at MCCC and works as a non-profit

consultant, holding four or five half-day retreats a month for

organizations

in that field. Describing herself as a lifelong volunteer, Smith is

also chair of the Princeton Human Services Commission and co-chair

of the Princeton Drug and Alcohol Alliance. A graduate of Smith

College,

she is a Princeton resident and the mother of three grown daughters,

all of whom volunteer.

Managing in a non-profit is not only different because many workers

are not paid. Smith points out that people on nearly every level of

a non-profit often are volunteers. That goes for the board of

directors,

at whose pleasure the executive director serves, as well as the folks

who staff the booths at fundraisers. It can also be the marketers,

event planners, and computer networkers.

Typically volunteers do important parts of the work of a non-profit.

“You would never have a volunteer walk into a corporation and

do a better job than the staff,” Smith says. “But in a

non-profit,

a volunteer may know more than the staff.”

These volunteers, both the indispensable superstars and the occasional

helpers, are more ubiquitous, and more essential, than is obvious

to the casual observer. Universities count on volunteer alumni to

solicit contributions from classmates, Smith points out, and our

political

system runs largely on volunteer labor. Whether a soup kitchen or

a modern medical complex, the non-profits that keep our society

running

depend on unpaid workers.

Managing these workers effectively is not something that comes

naturally.

Smith offers some suggestions for making the most of the human capital

that is the very life and breath of non-profits.

 

Think of every person as a gift. Everyone, absolutely

everyone, without exception, can contribute something to a non-profit,

says Smith with great emphasis. It is up to the manager to figure

out what this is for each person.

 

Match skills to needs. “I might be terrible in a

disaster,”

says Smith, “but really good at organizing activities for

children.”

Asking a high energy, creative person to stuff envelopes will not

work. Asking an introspective, socially awkward person to address

groups of potential donors will not work either.

 

Gauge depth of involvement. There are volunteers who are

able to give five hours a year, and others who will gladly give five

hours a week. Some want to chip in only on weekends, while others

insist on reserving weekends for family. Make the most of volunteers’

willingness to help, but do not attempt to push beyond their

self-imposed

limits. And don’t judge, either. The number of hours any person can

give “doesn’t make him better or worse,” says Smith.

 

Be clear about what is needed. Recruiting is the most

important job many non-profit managers do, and they need to do it

well. Set out exact descriptions of each volunteer job, and include

the days and hours on which it is to be performed, and how long it

will last. “Be specific,” says Smith. “People are more

apt to volunteer if they know the time line.”

 

Build up a chain of command. The annual Fete to aid the

Princeton Medical Center is run entirely by volunteers. Smith points

to that year-long effort as a model of volunteer organization. Many

volunteers move up, perhaps running a booth one year, and then a

section

the next. After many years of taking charge of various parts of the

operation, volunteers are ready to assume a leadership role.

 

Be organized. Non-profit managers are pressed from all

sides. Often short on staff, and working with limited budgets, the

demands on their time can be overwhelming. Yet it is crucial that

they manage volunteers efficiently. Smith says it is common to

encounter

situations where individuals volunteer, and then are not called or

given assignments for months. Or where volunteers are given vague

instructions, and no feedback.

 

Cultivate inter-personal skills. A non-profit manager

needs to get the best out of people she never hired, and that includes

members of the board as well as volunteer ticket takers and members

of the clean-up crew. Problems are bound to arise, and Smith says

these managers “need to be skilled in dealing with interpersonal

conflict.”

 

At every level, the name of the game in non-profits is

attracting

and motivating volunteers. Never take this resource for granted. Says

Smith, “give recognition to every contribution, no matter how

small.”

 

Top Of Page
IT Frustrations: Count the Ways

 

Which of these aggravations describes your most recent

information technology project? Not easy to use, costs more than

predicted,

took too much time, doesn’t “talk” to other systems, or way

too hard to maintain.

“Published research and our own experience shows that technology

projects fall short of expectations at an alarming rate — at the

same time technology is a top priority for business success,”

says Anne Pauker of Pauker Consulting Group. Her business

partner

(and husband) is Charlie Kreitzberg, CEO of Cognetics

Corporation on Everett Drive. They make a joint presentation at the

Garden State Society for Human Resources conference on Monday,

November

5, at 1:45 p.m. Entitled “HR Dollars and Sense,” the

conference

is scheduled for November 5 and 6 at the Parsippany Hilton. Cost:

$395. Call 973-267-7373 or 201-525-6307.

“IT professionals are frustrated by users who don’t understand

what they’re up against, keep changing their minds, aren’t clear in

their specifications, and are much too optimistic in terms of their

expectations,” says Pauker.

“We conclude that as long as business people and technology people

don’t speak the same language, and business people don’t understand

enough technology to have a context or framework for working with

technologists, this problem will continue.”

Their session will provide both a conceptual framework and a hands-on

approach for aligning technology with business and people. Three

elements

are needed:

 

Comprehension. Business people need to have a basic

understanding

of technology. Technologists need to have a basic understanding of

the business.

 

Collaboration. Business people and their technology

counterparts

need to use a process for working together effectively as a team.

 

Customer focus. Technology projects need to be rooted

in the user’s needs and incorporate user centered techniques.

 

If you are a human resources administrator or any kind of

executive,

you need to be technologically savvy. Pauker’s suggestions for staying

abreast:

 

Understand what the technology can do to meet your needs and

the needs of the user.

 

Have a clear understanding of what the software should look

like and do — before you start.

 

Understand the organizational implications of the new

technology.

 

Communicate effectively with technology experts. Make sure

you’re

clear about what they’re telling you.

 

Understand the technology project development lifecycle, so

expense mid-course changes don’t occur.

 

Understand the roles of all the players in developing the

project

and for decision making.

 

Learn how to make good financial and project decisions; set

up metrics for success before you start.

 

Understand and manage risk involved in the software project.

 

After the project is over, be sure you have built in a process

to capture “lessons learned” for the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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