Here’s the thing that our team has found working with organizations—large and small—around the country: Until something is communicated over and over and over again in the culture of your organization, not everyone knows it as well as you do or as well as you want them to know it. This is true for your staff and team, your board, your community, and your volunteers. So, when the attitude of a volunteer isn’t an attitude of service—even though you may think the volunteer should know that is what he/she should be doing—it’s probably because the servant attitude hasn’t been communicated well enough in your culture. Your job is to lead and serve your organization through effective communication.
It’s time for a reality check. How well are you communicating? I used to think I had communicated if I had said what I wanted to say. True communication means the one you are talking to has heard what you said, took the time to process what you said, understands what you said, and interpreted what you said correctly. How do you communicate with your board? How does your board hear about what’s going on within your organization? Is it email? Is it team or board meetings? Texting? Monthly reports? FaceTime? Skype? There are so many ways to communicate. Your role is to determine the best method of communication for you and for your team. In order for the person to receive what you have to say, it needs to be communicated in a way that they can receive it.
How often and how many of your team members find out information after the fact? Maybe it’s been posted on social media or broadcast to the community. They’ve caught you on a radio interview or a television interview saying, “Our organization is doing this,” and there’s a team member that says, “Oh. I had no idea.” One of the things we hear quite often from organizations is the communication from the executive director or team leader with the rest of the team and the board is not as consistent as it needs to be. Because the directors and team leaders are doing the work every day, the tendency is to think that their team members know and experience everything they do during the week.
Different People, Different Ways to Communicate
We all receive communication different ways. I know this requires a little more work on your part, but if you want an effective board, team, and volunteers, and you want to see your team win, you need to do this. Your team members all have individual personalities. Everyone is gifted differently. Everyone receives information differently. Just like you. Just like everybody reading this book. Ultimately, that is by God’s design.
To you, an email to everyone is great. But for one of those board members, the most effective way you could communicate with them would be a phone call. While you’re running from one meeting to another, you’re going to be in the car by yourself. Spend some of that time on the phone connecting with your board member(s). They’re going to feel more enlightened and more aware of what’s going on with your organization than they would if you sent the exact same dialogue that you said on the phone via an email.
Knowing the right method of communication comes from finding out more about your team members and serving them. You’re serving your organization’s “clients.” You’re serving your partners. (We like to call them partners, not donors. They’re investing in your organization, partnering with you.) You’re serving your volunteers. You’re serving your staff. You’re also serving your board. So, you need to find out what their gifts are, what their personality traits are. How do they like to receive communication? Effective communication is really important in how you communicate with your team.
Sometimes your team may not understand why you’re acting a certain way because they don’t know what’s going on. They may not all be a part of the everyday activities of your office. Think through how you can communicate with those individual team members and help them understand what’s going on with your organization. Making the effort will be worth it!
The Heart Share Group specializes in helping non-profits learn effective communicate as part of their leadership training. Additionally, they serve non-profits with donor development and brand development. Need help? Send Jack an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Eason is the President of The Heart Share Group, an organization dedicated to helping organizations reach their full potential through leadership development, brand development, and partnership development. Heart Share serves Christian radio through donor development strategies, fundraising initiatives (including on-air campaigns and major donor support), and creative partnerships. Contact Jack at email@example.com…