Michele Roy Martin

Taking it to the Next Level

When I work with my clients (mostly government agencies and non-profit community and faith-based organizations), we often use a 6 boxes matrix for analyzing organizational issues.

  1. Expectations--How does the organization measure success? What are the organizational measures and what are the individual measures? Is everyone in the organization clear about how success is measured? Are these expectations clearly and consistently communicated and measured?
  2. Tools and Resources--What tools and resources do staff have access to to get the job done? Is there a policy and procedure manual? The proper forms? Do they have working computers? What about their working environment? Is it conducive to getting the job done?
  3. Consequences and Incentives--What behaviors are encouraged? What behaviors are discouraged? What formal incentives and consequnces exist? What are the informal incentives and consequences?
  4. Skills and Knowledge--Do staff have the skills and knowledge to get their jobs done? Do they have adequate training not just in the ways of the agency for which they work, but also in core skills and knowledge that may be necessary to get the job done?
  5. Selection and Assignment--Do you have the right people on the bus? Are they sitting in the right seats? Are you leveraging people's strengths and helping them to manage around their weaknesses?
  6. Motives and Preferences--Are you meeting individual employee needs? Are you using the right mix of incentives, work environment, etc. to motivate each employee?

In this approach, each box is built on the ones before it, so that Box 1 (Expectations) must be clearly developed and understood before the organization should move on to the next one (Tools and Resources). It does no good to work on Box 6, which is related to employee attitudes, if you have not worked on the boxes before it.

Nine times out of ten we find that poor morale is a direct result of the agency not paying attention to one of the earlier boxes, particularly Boxes 1, 2 and 3 If you do not set clear, consistent expectations, provide staff with the right tools and resources and provide the right mix of incentives for meeting expectations, then you shouldn't complain if morale is low. None of us is happy when we don't know what our job is or we're expected to do it without the right tools and training.

In later posts, I'll be taking a closer look at each of the individual boxes. For now, I introduce them because I think that they create the framework for understanding each of the areas that we must pay attention to in running an organization.

In this blog, I want to explore the resources that NPOs can use to improve their organizational capacity. I have a particular interest in the uses of technology and best practices to improve overall performance and want to examine how NPOs can begin to take advantage of the variety of resources that are available to improve their capacity to meet their individual mission.

An ambitious project, no doubt, but a fun one too.

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