As a rule, if you are working in the nonprofit realm, you are not in it to make The Big Bucks. You are probably driven more by your heart for the mission of your organization and the satisfaction of working with good people to make a positive difference in the world.
Terrific! That’s an admirable mindset—one to which I subscribe myself.
Unfortunately, nonprofit leaders sometimes let our hearts get in the way of our heads, leading us to dodge some of the tougher aspects of business management. Things like giving frank feedback—both affirming and correcting—to the employees and volunteers with whom we work.
According to 1,400 executives polled by The Ken Blanchard Companies, failing to provide feedback is the most common mistake that leaders make. Nonprofit leaders in particular often resist giving corrective feedback because they feel it’s not compassionate. But in reality, it is false compassion to allow people to blithely continue performing poorly because they don’t know any better.
Of course, by frank feedback, I don’t mean “ripping ‘em a new one!” or yelling or publically pointing out problems. I mean having a private, respectful, adult-to-adult conversation about performance expectations and observed behaviors and results.
Most of your feedback should reinforce desired performance. And occasionally, when needed, the feedback can be corrective—a dialogue about performance gaps and agreed-upon plans for improvement. According to the Harvard Business Review, “92% of the respondents agreed with the assertion, ‘Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.’”
Ignorance is not bliss. Your employees and volunteers cannot fix what they don’t realize is broken. Nor can they build on great performance if it’s never recognized and celebrated.
A recent study cited by Forbes Magazine showed that 65% of employees want more feedback than they are currently receiving. What can you do today to convey to your team the frank feedback they want and need?
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