3 Steps to Close Out 2015 Donations

In the midst of a capital campaign, the opportunity for year-end gifts and pledges is one that shouldn't be passed up. However, motivation for securing these gifts, when the overall goal still seems an achievement further away, can be lacking. 

Discussing this topic with a colleague earlier today, I propose three quick steps in these days between Christmas and New Years to rally the troops and really push for success. 

Explain the immediate goal. What are you trying to achieve in the next week? Is it an numeric benchmark of either a dollar goal or donor goal? Spell out to your team that you are $40,000 shy of reaching a $1,000,000. Maybe you are five donors away from having 100 donors to the campaign. Establish the case and these requests will feel tangible.

Provide them a sense of urgency. Why now? Because we want to kick-off 2016 telling everyone that we hit $500,000 in pledges for the month of December. Campaigns are about momentum and building upon that momentum. Establishing deadlines shows people that we are not resting on our past success.

Show them how to execute. So you've explained the goal and the need to do it immediately, now you need to show them the path to achievement. Please call these three people. Can you call this person and see where he/she is in deciding? Draw up the game plan and give them roles they can play out easily.  

Don't let this week slip away. Focus and rally your team of volunteer leaders. They agreed to help with the campaign because they believe it's important. Coach them to success and end the year celebrating! 


A Healthy Debate

The Democratic debate is tonight, and fortunately, I'll be at a hockey game so I will miss the entire thing. It probably won't pull in the ratings that the GOP debates have seen anyway, because the story and characters aren't as compelling. 

Some experts expect it will be a "healthy" debate. There will be no personal attacks,  or trying to cut down the front runner, although one might be tempted to demonstrate some inconsistencies in policy stands. 

My guess is, overall the debate will be boring and therefore a waste of time. To me there is nothing healthy about talking about how quickly you came to support an issue over your opponent. That's not debating. As Americans, we should be experts at debating anything. We constantly debate each other on religion, sexual issues, and who should be in the college football playoffs. There's only one place where we seem to avoid debate or the appearance of conflict; and that place is a team setting at work.

Why is that?

In his book Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni describes the five areas that disrupt a team from performing at maximum efficiency and effectiveness. It begins with a lack of trust, then builds upon itself with a fear of conflict, then to a lack of commitment, which begets avoidance of accountability till you end up with with a bunch of individuals who are more concerned about their own work then that of the team. 

We see it all the time. Right now somewhere a team is meeting and going through an agenda, and members of that team don't trust each other and are avoiding conflict by holding each other accountable. Not trust, no debate, no accountability, and nothing gets done. 

Trust is something I will delve into at another time, but tonight it's debate night. 

Here are three things in my experience that promote healthy debate in the workplace:

  1. Create and shape an environment which promotes difference of opinion.
  2. Expect differences to be supported by facts.
  3. Reinforce that conflict leads to positive solutions for the team.

I'm sure there are many more ideas that can be helpful. If you begin with these three ideas, everything else can flow from that. 

So debate away with your colleagues. Make sure you have your facts ready. Don't make it personal, either by giving or receiving critical feedback that differs. It won't be boring and it definitely won't be a waste of time. 


4 Steps that help me be more effective at work

Many years ago I once had a job where at the end of the work day I had no idea what I had accomplished.  Sure I "worked"; I sent out emails, fielded phone calls, and had various meetings with different people throughout each day.  But in general, I had a feeling where I looked back and couldn’t remember specifically what I had done from the beginning of the day to the end.

After a while that feeling began to weigh on me. I was feeling more unmotivated, depressed, and unsuccessful. Work was something I got up in the morning to go to, spent the day at a desk and then at some point I was staring at a performance review that said, “Good job, but certainly there is room for improvement.”

I was getting by but not enjoying myself.

I needed to change my approach where throughout the day I felt direction, not only for the specific work day, but for the week and beyond. I sought out some advice and here’s what I have done since then. It begins and ends with lists.

Create that day’s to do list.
I begin every morning with a simple breakdown of what I’m doing that day. This is a simple way to review what was pushed back from previous day and pare down what needs to get done that day.

Map out my day.
I schedule everything out, (even lunch!) to keep me committed to what I have to do that day. I either break it down hour by hour, or group things together over a few hours to work on depending on the meetings I have that day.

Prep for meetings scheduled that day.
Part of mapping out my day is that I make time to prep for meetings. I find this extremely important to make that time more efficient and effective.

Create action steps from each meeting.
For me the purpose of meetings is to have action steps to take from those meetings. I highlight what I need to do, review what others need to do that I have to either check on, or monitor. This will build out my list for the next day or week ahead.

These four simple steps have helped me become a more effective employee and one that is happier knowing I can cross things off my list and look back and see what I did that day.

Now my days are filled with a variety of work that have a lot of moving pieces, how I manage my time effectively will ultimately determine my success.

What time management tips do you use to help you throughout your work day? What hasn’t worked?