Vampires have no reflection (or so I hear). But it needn’t be this way for nonprofits and foundations!
In a post earlier this week, we acknowledged the dilemma of wanting to engage in end-of-year reflection and learning but not feeling there’s the time to do so. Here are four ideas that might make it easier to fit it into your busy winter schedule.
- Use Assessment Tools: Has your board ever done a self-assessment? Do you have a process for individual board members to annually reflect on their performance and participation? Both can yield useful insights with a modest investment of time and effort. The availability of out-of-the-box tools helps take the mystery out of all-board assessment, and for individual board members, a simple worksheet of well-thought-out questions can encourage reflection about their level of engagement and satisfaction with board service over the past year.
- Leverage Annual Reviews: What does your staff performance review look like? Do you use a qualitative annual process that blends individual reflection on past performance with thinking about organizational achievements? Taking time to have these conversations on an individual basis can go a long way toward staff satisfaction and motivation, while gleaning key lessons about what has worked well and what your organization could have done better.
- Tell Stories: How often do you get time to just talk about the work? Working alongside the same colleagues each day, it’s easy to fall into a routine and assume that you know and understand what one another are doing. But it is often by putting our experiences into words that we make sense of them, for ourselves as well as for others. Even just taking time in a staff session to share our stories about the work allows for reflection and cross-fertilization, involving everyone as teachers and learners. j
- Celebrate: You may already have carved out time for some sort of year-end (or year-beginning) holiday celebration, but are you being intentional about celebrating your achievements of the past year? The power of naming those victories, however small, shouldn’t be underestimated. Celebrations reinforce what success looks like, honoring what has been accomplished. With a growing recognition of the value of trying and failing, some brave organizations are celebrating their failures as well. (An anecdote from Beth Kanter’s latest book includes DoSomething.org’s “Fail Fest” practice, an organizational learning opportunity if ever there was one!)
Please comment to tell us how you’ve used any of these tools or techniques, or to share your own tips for organizational reflection and learning.
Wishing all a season of learning and a fresh perspective on the new year. Get ready…reflect…GO!