Change Management for NFPs
Leading Through Turbulent Times
“No man ever steps in the same river twice. For it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man,” said Greek philosopher Heraclitus in 500 BC. He could have been talking about not for profits.
When a series of crises and events collide, the impact can feel like the perfect storm rather than the gentle tides of change. VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) has become the new norm for social services and the not for profit sector.
NFPs have been pummelled with wave after wave of change in the last ten years. First came the drop and plateau of giving and funding as a result of the GFC. Now, changing demographics have made donor patterns less predictable. Exacerbating this are fluctuations in government funding models, sweeping sector reforms like the implementation of the NDIS in the disability sector and consumer directed care in the aged care industry, and an unprecedented number of not for profits vying for the same dollar.
Consequently, NFP executives and boards face increasing uncertainty about:
A) the interests and expectations of their donors
B) the needs and expectations of consumers
C) the support and expectations of government, and
D) the approaches and expectations of their personnel and leadership.
How do NFPs achieve purpose-driven change?
The last thing we want to hear when outside forces are engulfing us, is that we’re the ones who need to change. However, in times of uncertainty, not for profit leaders must define a better vision for the future. This involves strategic thinking and planning across all aspects of the organisation:
- Who are we?
- How are we led?
- What do our customers/clients want?
- Service models
- Transparent approach
- Supporting systems and technology
- How are we known?
- External communication
- Research and development
- How do we pay for our services?
- User pays
- Social enterprise
- Government grants
- Social impact bonds
- Corporate partnerships
- Why will the best people want to work or volunteer here?
- HR practices
- Internal communication
- Ability to make a difference
- Organisational structure
- How will delivery of our desired future be supported?
- Business systems
What skills and attributes help NFP leaders manage the change process?
Faisal Hoque, named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in the world and author of Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability, suggests three qualities that leaders should cultivate when facing uncertain times. These are summarised below:'
- Turbulent times demand cool heads and the ability to look past the negativity that laps around the edges. Anxiety and self-doubt make it harder to act and adapt, harder to deal with the realities of today and face the challenges of the future, harder to identify the gaps to fill or opportunities that open up, harder to attract potential collaborators and partners because anxiety erodes trust and makes people less productive.
- When you feel like battening down the hatches, remain open and approachable. You may feel the pressure to provide all of the answers straight away, but speaking less and listening more to your personnel and advice from coaches and mentors allows you to expand your perspective and make the best decisions.
- Adjust course but maintain momentum. Get a clear picture fast, then act and adapt. It’s what you do at times like this – the solutions you implement, the adaptions you make, the new market spaces you inhabit – that makes all the difference.
How can Social Impact Institute help NFPs adapt and grow through turbulent times?
Social Impact Institute works with boards and senior executives to stay afloat during times of turbulence and position their organisations for renewed growth. Our team consists of former CEOs, executives and professionals with deep experience in non-profits and the social services sector, who support you through every stage of managing change.
We work alongside you, providing support and helping you implement the best solutions to the kinds of questions you’re asking about your organisation today:
- What is our purpose and how does that align with the future needs of our consumers and society?
- How do consumers expect us to interact with them and deliver our services?
- How can we position ourselves and our brand to maintain relevance to a changing profile of consumers, donors and personnel?
- How will we raise funds to deliver our services into the future?
- What will make our workplace attractive to the personnel and leaders who will lead us into the future?
- How do the experiences of consumers and donors in the commercial environment impact on what they expect of us?
- How will further rapid technological development impact our consumers, donors and personnel?
- How does the changing face of Australia impact our organisation?
- What technology and systems do we need to adopt to maximise our impact?
- How do we effectively measure and monitor success?
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