The pace of life for many of us in the not-for-profit sector has become so hectic that we rarely have time to stop to ponder how we are doing. By the time your planned evaluation programs kick in, it is too late to make adjustments if you drifted inadvertently. In this article, we offer an easy quiz to help you assess whether you are on track. Only you need to know your answers.
1. Are you serving your organization's vision/mission?
It's easy to be sidetracked by the small stuff (think unnecessary e-mails or phone conversations). Too often, we are consumed by projects that take up time but do not serve the core purpose of the organization; the technical term is mission drift. Ask yourself what it is that you do or ensure is being done as part of your responsibilities that is serving your organization’s mission and vision, and what it is that you are doing that does not.
2. Are you focused on your strategic priorities?
If your board called a special meeting tomorrow to examine what it is you are doing, would they find that you are focused on strategic priorities? Might they uncover that you are spending valuable time on “nice to do” work? In your mind, list the work you would reference in your answer. Would they learn that you procrastinate too much? Could you demonstrate how it is that you are serving the strategic plan?
3. Are you motivating your team?
How are you supporting the people you work with - both your volunteers and staff? What have you done in the last three months to motivate them? What are you planning in the next three months?
4. Are you investing in relationships with stakeholders?
Networking is a very powerful tool in today’s work environment. What networking have you done lately that will advance the work of your organization and your own career? Are you making it easy for new people to get involved with your organization?
5. Are you leaving a trail that can be followed?
If you won the lottery tomorrow and decided to move to another continent, would those left behind be able to pick up where you left off and ensure a seamless transition? Would your files be complete and easy to find? Equally important, would you have left behind a positive legacy of contributions?
6. Are you fulfilling your job description? Your employment contract?
When is the last time you read your job description and your employment contract? It is easy to be consumed with work and not attend to duties in your written agreements.
7. Are you serving your personal game plan?
How are your efforts in your current position serving your long-term personal game plan? Are you building expertise in the areas you are passionate about? Are you achieving your financial goals? Are you marketable for your next assignment or prepared for your pending retirement?
8. Are you investing in your own development?
What new skills have your learned lately? Technology (e.g. computers, PDAs, information technologies) is an arena that requires constant learning. Are you making the effort to learn or retrenching to a place where modern dinosaurs live? What about your interpersonal skills? Your leadership skills? Your language skills? What about understanding future trends for not-for-profit organizations? Do you know what they are and how they might impact you and your organization?
9. Are you taking time off?
There is a saying that no one on his or her deathbed ever regrets not spending more time at work. What most people do regret is not spending more time with their loved ones. Will the people you report to be there to thank you for your overtime?
Therefore, the next time you are caught in an anxiety attack about some trivial non-life changing things that are preventing you from taking time off from work, ask yourself, will this matter five years from now? Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
Paulette in President of Solution Studio Inc., a consulting practice that serves the not-for-profit association community. Paulette co-authored two manuscripts on risk management & not-for-profit organizations and regularly conducts risk management, strategic planning and board development workshops. She can be reached at 1-877-787-7714 or Paulette@solutionstudioinc.com.