Sometimes the worst thing that can happen to an organization is growth. Now, growth can be a good thing-in fact a very good thing- when your talking about professionalism, donor contribution levels, bank balances, staff development, and more. But if you lead a nonprofit that is experiencing huge growth in the number of clients needing service, you should be on guard for a deterioration of service, attitude, and reputation.
For instance, I recently heard one of our well-respected, local nonprofits seems to be changing. People say it just isn’t the same organization it used to be. It has become too mechanical, it lacks sympathy for the clients, it may even be a bit detached. Maybe donations have come too easily to them, maybe they’ve inadvertently morphed into a big organization from the nimble, neighborhood anchor it always had been. Regardless, word spreads fast and then in addition to having to fix the problem, a leader has to do damage control.
Problem is, I think they have become so overwhelmed with new clients they hardly have time to breath. Yet, some of the values it is most known for-personal attention, individual respect, warm one-on-one interaction, seem to be falling by the wayside as it deals with new staff, new volunteers, and a growing number of clients.
What can be done? Well, a lot. And a lot should be done so this organization’s reputation is not irreparably damaged and its clients are not treated disrespectfully.
I’m a big fan of management by walking around and talking to people. It may be the single best way I was able to get a sense of our organization’s temperature, employees attitudes, and our external service levels. There are lots of other ways to guard against Danger in the iPass Lane. Call me and let’s talk about a few.