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Organisations who work with volunteers and social cause staff face particular challenges in managing and leading their staff–for example: Not for Profits, Purpose for Profits, religious organisations, higher education institutions, professional societies. But should they be any different to a profit focused organisation?

We are a Social Cause Organisation – Can we be Permissive with our Staff and Volunteers?

Frances Hesselbein has regal status as a leader in non profits and social cause organisations and is very clear about her principles on managing and leading social cause workers and volunteers. She echoes our perspective:

“You manage them the same way you do people who are in the private sector. The purpose of a social cause organisation is the driver and the key”.

When people don’t deliver they have a hobby and not a job or responsibility. The relationship between employee and employer is always two way. It can be stated rather bluntly as Value for Money, and Money for Value. When everything else is stripped away and we return to these cold facts, we are reminded of the responsibility to lead our staff.

The Long Term Effect

When an employee isn’t earning their keep they are not holding up their end of the bargain to the organisation or to their peers who are working for the very same purpose. The rationale that social cause workers (volunteers or paid) are not accountable due to the purpose of their work is nonsensical. This approach will impact performance, morale and culture and the effects will be felt by the organisation for considerable time. There is always a price for poorly chosen strategies.

The purpose motive and associated values are equally–if not more so–as important and worthy as are the profit motive and values. Budgets are often tight, yet high performance is not generally an important item on the Leadership agenda. If this is evident in your organisation, consider how you will change the strategy and the culture.

5 Steps to a Commitment to Deliver

Work with your staff in the same way you would work with anyone who has made a commitment to deliver. Here is our recommended 5 Step Approach:

  1. Assess job fit, measure engagement levels, understand career goals and key motivations.
  2. Be clear about your expectations.
  3. Hold meaningful, open and honest yet diplomatic discussions.
  4. Follow up.
  5. Follow through.


Recent Testimonials – Paradoxical Leadership

“I worked in the Navy, so I have done many many assessments. I can tell you that this is the most accurate one that I have seen.” –Financial Advisor and Business Owner after a Team Workshop using the Harrison Paradox Leadership Report.

Ganga Harvey consults and coaches in the areas of Talent Analytics, Leadership, Strategic Management and Change Management and has guided many organisations to significantly higher levels of performance. She is a Solutions Partner with Harrison Assessments.

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