Having just read likeable business (Dave Kerpen – MC Graw-Hill) and specifically the chapter Team Player, I got to thinking about the culture in nonprofit organizations, having seen, been in and generally observed many nonprofits I got to thinking about how many are lead from the top down, with very little, if any input being sought from the team as to how things are done.

Some organizations have paid money for staff satisfaction surveys to find out what staff feel about the organization, why they work there, and general views about the way the organization is operated – only for the ‘findings’ to sit in a folder either on someones desk or computer. These surveys have been a waste of time and money, and quite likely they’ve negatively affected staff morale – with staff likely to have thought that their input would have been taken seriously and where possible changes made.

Organizations need to not only listen to the people they’re supporting, the wider community – but they must also listen to those working in the organization, those on the ground. Gone are the days when CEOs could operate an organization wielding a stick – this doesn’t work, CEOs need all the help, support and input they can get.

The culture of any organization is one of the most important jobs of any leader, however that culture has to come from throughout – it’s not something that can be forced on people from the top down. The culture of any organization is what those working in it make it to be.

As Lance Walker CEO of Loyalty New Zealand said in a recent article in Idealog “Leaders need to take a nurturing role to establish an environment where great cultures can develop from within the community of the people.”

People need to feel they are part of the organization, that their voice is heard – that they are part of the TEAM, not that they are merely carrying out the ‘orders’ of those higher up.

Any organization that doesn’t listen to, that doesn’t empower staff risk missing out on the potential for staff development and personal growth – this in time, will likely negatively impact on the organization.

When staff feel that what the have to say is being heard, morale of the organization will be higher than in an organization lead from the top down, can you organization afford not to listen to what staff have to say? Do you want to be part of an organization with low morale – and likely high staff turnover, no you don’t. Now is the time to work on the culture of your team/s, why not take some time out to hear what staff have to say, to listen to their suggestion and guide them into building and open team – don’t be afraid to invite staff to management meetings, their voice is important.

What will you do to empower staff, to help build an open supportive culture where staff feel they’re valued?

Any change will be change for the good. Don’t be afraid to try different things, leaders need to step outside their comfort zone sometimes.


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