Mistakes Lead to Modification

MistakeWe all make mistakes.  To be a stellar nonprofit professional, I’m not aware of a magic process to prevent mistakes.  Rather, the key is to recognize the mistakes and make modifications as necessary.

Here are some mistakes I’ve made… and more importantly, how I have modified my behavior:

Bulk Mail Sorting:  If you have every manually sorted a bulk mailing, you know the immense amount of ordering and counting and bundling and stickering that is necessary. Big mistake was the hours I wasted as a young development professional learning, preparing, and assembling bulk mailings.

Modification:  Penny wise, pound foolish. I learned – mail houses are worth every penny… they are the masters of bulk mail sorting. Now, I outsource bulk mailings. Period. But, beyond bulk mailings, I am certain to value my time in the cost analysis when determining the true costs for projects. Valuing the time put into projects helps paint a more accurate picture of the costs associated with tasks. Whether the tasks are administrative, program or fundraising, I strive to include all costs in the evaluation of a project.

Presidency Handoff:  I had assembled all the pertinent emails and correspondence of all things related to the role of the president of my college sorority. I gathered stacks of papers to be processed, a to-do list of next steps with top priorities, and dozens of emails about ongoing projects. And then I passed them all off to the new sorority president within an hour of her election. So, although I thought I was helping her “get up to speed” with her new role, what I truly did was overwhelm her… which did not lead to happy thoughts.

Modification:  As I handoff tasks and roles, I ensure I have items organized and ready for the handoff, but I am careful to not overwhelm the recipient. And, I remember that the next person might not do everything exactly the way I previously did everything. So, I try to not instruct them on the process I would undergo for the result I desired. Rather, I inform them of the tools and resources available to them and alert them of any urgent items to address immediately. Most importantly, I hand it off on their timetable, not mine.

Ride from Jail:  Picked up an employee from jail.  Twice.

Modification:  Ended the free rides from jail. Need I say more? But, upon further analysis, I realize that I have modified my behavior as to when it is appropriate to show compassion and support for employees, and when it is appropriate to focus on the bigger picture – the organization fulfilling its mission.  I now recognize the need to balance the compassion for the employees with the needs for the organization.

It is all about modification.  Remember to modify.

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Special thanks to Lisa M. for her support and reminders to “modify behavior.”

About Dr. Sarah Wolin Mackey

Putting theory into practice at nonprofit organizations.
This entry was posted in Career, Nonprofit Management, Young Professional and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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