The COVID-19 pandemic created an economic firestorm that many nonprofit organizations have discovered to be difficult to put out. High inflation has taken a bite out of the budgets of nonprofit organizations and many nonprofits must fill a record number of job openings caused by an acute labor shortage. Navigating your nonprofit through one of the most tumultuous periods in your history requires the ability to ease the anxiety your team members feel about your organization’s future.
Flap Your Leadership Wings
Great leaders do not display their skills just during the best of times. Yes, it is important to possess strong leadership skills to guide your nonprofit to achieve fundraising and volunteer recruitment goals. However, when times get tough is when great leaders emerge to guide their nonprofit organization’s through the worst of times.
One of the most important leadership traits to possess involves remaining calm even when it appears all is lost. Your staffers detect it when one of the leaders begins to waver in confidence and/or becomes highly anxious. Leaders that begin to show signs of anxiety risk having some of the anxiety rub off on staffers.
Leadership also includes not throwing any of the staffers under the proverbial bus. When times get tough, weak leaders tend to blame others for their failures, as well as the failures of the organization they represent. The last thing your team members want to hear is an organization leader playing the blame game when times get tough.
Hold yourself to a higher standard than you hold staffers to build the type of respect that can move mountains during a financial crisis.
Foster an Environment of Open Communication
Fear of the unknown is a much more powerful emotion than the fear of knowing what is about to transpire. When you anticipate a negative event, you can take steps to at least try to address the negative consequences of the event. Fear of the unknown frequently stems from poor communication by the members of a nonprofit leadership team. One of the first items on your to-do list, when your nonprofit finds itself in a precarious financial situation, involves clearly communicating everything that is going on that influences the financial status of your nonprofit organization.
Encourage staffers to discuss their concerns with you, whether that happens in person or via a communication channel such as text, phone, and email conversations. Responsive communication requires getting back to staffers as quickly as possible after receiving a text, phone, or email message. The more responsive you are, the more the members of your team believe you care about your nonprofit organization’s future.
Be Candid About Layoffs
You understand the importance of encouraging open communication, as well as ensuring you respond to staffer concerns as quickly as possible. However, there is one topic that makes it difficult to be open about what is going on in your nonprofit. You find it nearly impossible to bring yourself to discuss imminent layoffs. Nonetheless, how you handle a financial crisis by scheduling layoffs goes a long way toward determining whether you inspire staffers enough to follow you through your nonprofit’s most turbulent era.
Staffers do not want to be surprised with a notice that they have temporarily lost their jobs. Being upfront about layoffs can help you build the level of loyalty that pushes your nonprofit to new heights after a financial crisis has passed.
At Ernst Wintter & Associates LLP, we provide comprehensive audit, review, examination and compilation services as well as tax services that fit your business needs. Our professionals have specific expertise in the financial services industry, nonprofit sector, and employee benefit plan audit requirements. Please contact us today.