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.”
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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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