Friday Inspirations, Episode 9 :)

adam braun collaboration fundraising great at work morten t. hansen pencils of promise productivity raising money team work-life balance Mar 16, 2018

Happy Friday! 

If you are looking to reinvigorate your work and achieve at the next level, we recommend this great read (picked up at the airport like most good books): Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More, by Harvard B-School prof Morten Hansen. It has great insights for fundraisers.

Hansen identifies seven principles that "accounted for a whopping 66 percent" of variation in work performance while also providing "better work-life balance, higher job satisfaction, and less burnout." Who doesn't want that?

Here they are:

  1. Do less, then obsess: Choose just the few things that matter most and then absolutely obsess  - make huge efforts to do terrific work in those areas. (If you don't have it already, see our Purpose-Driven Productivity Formula!)
  2. Redesign your work: don't pursue goals, but value. For example, instead of "Visit with 150 donors," you might want to "Advance meaningful gift conversations with 100 donors." You know when you're really providing value versus going through the motions, right? Act like you're an AirBNB host or Uber driver going for a five-star rating!
  3. Don't just learn, loop: What?! This is about constant improvement - learn, seek feedback, improve more. This is the stuff of champions - in every sport and all work. For example, if you need to listen more and talk less with donors (don't we all?), you might design a smart experiment like:
    • Create ten searching questions for donor meeting
    • Ask a follow-up question that shows you've really heard them after each answer
    • Reinforce what you've heard and connect back to your org and a possible gift
    • Ask a colleague along for specific feedback: did you hit the 80% listen/20% talk goal? Is there one thing you could do better?
  4. P-Squared (passion and purpose): Hansen contends that "passion is 'do what you love' while purpose is 'do what contributes.'" If you match the two, it provides you with "more energy per hour of work." We are betting you've got this, world changing fundraisers, but in case you need a refresher, take a look at Jenna's blog post on Adam Braun and Pencils of Promise.
  5. Become a forceful champion: We all need eager collaborators to do our work well. Top performers in Hansen's study inspired others by evoking emotions (rather than just making a rational case) and "persevering in the face of difficulty and deploying tailored tactics to overcome opposition to their effort." Sounds a lot like fundraising, eh?
  6. Fight and unite: the key to productive teams. In meetings, strive to "debate the issues, consider alternatives, challenge one another, listen to minority views, scrutinize assumptions, and enable every participant to speak up." When the debate is over and a decision is made, everyone puts aside disagreement and unites to implement. If you are a manager, strive to create this dynamic team environment, which empowers everyone and drives superlative results. 
  7. Don't under- or over-collaborate: Only collaborate when there's a strong business case. When you do, have a unifying goal, go all-in, and reward results, not activities. This is key, especially for nonprofit fundraisers who can be pulled into all manner of activities that don't raise money. Keep your eyes on the prize: raising the funds that fuel your mission!

So much goodness in this book. For the workaholic, one key takeaway: those who worked up to 50 hours per week got better results for each hour worked. Beyond 50 hours, benefit from adding hours waned. Above 65 hours a week caused performance to decline. Work hard, then do other stuff, people!

Speaking of which, I've just returned from a week off-grid in Big Bend National Park. I'm feeling this quote, from John Muir:

“Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

We hope this weekend brings true rejuvenation!

- Nancy