Nonprofit Managers: Be Careful Who to Invite to a Meeting!

Nonprofit Managers: Be Careful Who to Invite to a Meeting!

By: Eugene Fram         Free Digital Image

Most nonprofit CEOs would agree with the findings of a recent McKinsey survey that attempts to gauge the productivity of business organizations’ meetings. * The results of the probe showed that 61% of the respondents thought that at least half of the time spent around the table was non-productive.

Nonprofits can benefit from the study by considering the various roles played by the participants while attending operational (not board) meetings. They advise the committee nonprofit chair to think twice before inviting people to attend. Following in italics are the roles recommended in the survey. After each, I project how these can be useful in identifying who should be present at nonprofit meetings.

Decision makers(s) are the only ones with a vote and the ones with responsibility to decide as they see fit.  

Example: Assume a program task force wants to make program changes, but members can’t agree on the new format. It is useless for the task force to spend more meeting hours “to go along to get along.” The decision then needs to be escalated to the management team, for review or possibly to the Executive Director who has final decision-making powers on operational issues

Advisers give input and (help) shape the decision. They have an outside voice in setting the decision context and a big stake in its outcome … .  

Example: The ED wants to hire a marketing director to fill a newly established position. The ED then invites two board members to join the search committee because it is a new position for which he has little recruiting expertise. Although, the two will provide advisory advice, the final decision is still the responsibility of the ED. In a larger sense, all members of the committee are advisory since the ED must make the hiring decision. 

Recommenders conduct the analyses, explore the alternative, illuminate the pros and cons, and ultimately recommend a course of action to the advisers and decision makers. … .  

Large and small nonprofits now agree that positive program results do not necessarily translate to positive client impacts. An organization, for example, recording significant increases in training volunteers now can be asked for further detail to demonstrate how that growth has impacted the lives of clients.

Recently I have encountered several smaller organizations (budgets circa $3 million) adding a data analyst to their staffs to better assess client impacts. With the new ability to construct and analyze Big Data platforms, these nonprofits are in a position to better understand their clients and others stakeholders such as donors.

Execution partners don’t give input so much as get deeply involved in implementing the decision, and therefore they must be informed. … . [T] he right ones are needed in the room when the decision is made so they can ask clarifying questions.  

This applies to nonprofits when other organizations partner in offering the client service. Also it may important when vendor is critical to service implementation, e.g. supplies food for clients meals.    

Beware of Tourists: One role you never want represented?   Many of your colleagues will want to be in the loop and will need to be involved downstream eventually—but if they have no role in the decision-making process, they shouldn’t be in (the) meeting.

An old Chinese Proverb states: “A wise man (or woman) learns from his/h own experiences. The wiser man (or woman) learns from the experiences of others.” Here is an opportunity to improve nonprofit meeting efficiency using the McKinsey roles to determine who should be invited to nonprofit committee meetings.



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