Build Clarity to Become a High Performing Manager
By Eric W. Curtis
A key challenge for nonprofit leaders is to learn how to manage their teams in the context of the strategic plan, while better defining the role of individual team members, and if job roles are not clearly defined, the team can become confused, creating more management challenges.
Clearly defining job roles (also known as posts) can make the difference between high performing teams and those that are lost. With poor performing teams, managers tend to put out fires all day and act in a disorganized manner.
Assembling high performing teams starts with building clarity by defining team purpose and job posts.
What is a Job Post?
The word post comes from the military, which means a position of duty and responsibility. A job post is an assigned function in a nonprofit...not a person.
A post is a simple tool that is designed to create a management model and the individual positions of the game. It provides an unemotional look at the types of functions or positions needed in an organization that best aligns to the strategy and structure.
In his book,Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. When you create the right post, you are actually creating the seats on the bus. Creating job posts not only helps build a better bus, it helps leaders understand where to seat the right people.
The creation of a post is essential for employees as well as management. Providing job clarity gives the employee a clear path for success and gives the management team clear expectations of the employee and leads to greater team accountability and clarity.
An Example of the Benefits of Job Posts
A national nonprofit had seven locations run by a central office and each location had completely different organization structures. Many of the positions at each location had the same types of jobs, but the responsibilities or titles were inconsistent and lacked performance metrics, making it very difficult for the central office to manage or implement the strategic plan. In addition, the seven executive directors had different concepts of what they should be doing.
To move forward this organization needed a unified team operating on the same playing field. They accomplished this by building job posts, so that all job posts, from executive director to the front desk staff, across all locations were consistent. Building the job posts allowed this nonprofit to create clear team understanding and expectations.
Here is how to create a job post and start to get employees crystal clear on how they can be successful.
Step One: Primary Purpose
The primary purpose is a single point of focus for a given job function. It is a key factor that, if missing, can mean the difference between someone really understanding what to do with their time and energy and someone who is just busy and not very productive. A primary purpose provides high-level understanding of the position's higher purpose to the organization and how it aligns to other job functions.
Step Two: Key Activities
Since each post needs a primary purpose, the next step is to identify the top activities that fulfill the primary purpose. Its helpful to focus on assembling the top five key activities because that prioritizes actions that are the most essential to fulfilling the primary purpose. It circles back to the fact that if everything is important, then nothing is.
Step Three: Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
Key performance indicators are quantifiable metrics that fairly and accurately track the success of a job function. The post as a whole is designed to be a management tool and is best used to manage a persons performance. KPIs provide management with numbers that will help them assess performance, which removes emotions from the task of managing individuals or teams. Too many managers make decisions based on how they feel about a situation versus looking at what the numbers are telling. Performance measurements help to remove the emotional aspect and allow for better decision making for the organization.
Step Four: Training Requirements
A growing concern in nonprofits around the world is the leadership gap that exists between levels in the organizational hierarchy. Many large nonprofits are not ready to handle the massive amount of senior leaders that will be retiring in the next five to 10 years. To combat the growing gap in talent within nonprofits many organizations are using posts that outline training requirements. The posts (with the training requirements) help employees and managers be clear on the training and development that needs to take place while someone holds a particular post.
Eric Curtis, author, leadership and management specialist, and nonprofit consultant, is founder of CurtisCompany, which helps nonprofits generate breakthrough growth. Contact him at 617-283-8914 or CurtisStrategy.com .