If you’ve been on your board for a long time, or had a small team with the same people, then chances are you know and trust each other really well. Which is great. Until someone new comes along. Then chances are you feel like they don’t know as much as you, or they’re going to make changes where they’re not needed and really why try something else, when this already works.
Unwittingly you can send off the vibe of being in a clique.
I don’t mean aka ‘Mean Girls’ or that you don’t listen to anything new said, but potentially and subtly (or perhaps not so!) you discourage any new ideas or ways to do this. Cue eye roll.
And of course you’ve put in the hard yards. You’ve done all the hard work when there was no money and you had to walk 10 miles in snow to school (no wait that’s another story!), and no one knows better than you what works and what doesn’t.
And then in comes someone new. And they may even want to try new things or heaven forbid, actually question the process or offer suggestions.
Really? Do they not know their place?
I mean we’ve already tried this, and we’ve spent weeks, no months, coming up with this way to do things. Can’t they just do what they are told? Is it not their job to just help us continue to do what we know has already worked?*
Of course we want new people on board. And yes we know we need them. But can’t they just slip seamlessly into the way we have set up things. And can they stop asking questions about everything, and just accept that we’ve found the best way to do things.
No they can’t. Because, really deep down, this is why you asked them to join the board, become a volunteer, or work in your team.
Yes you want them to just do what they need to do. But you also deep down know that at some stage, you were that new person. You were the one with the enthusiasm and new ideas.
And nothing will sap the life out of a new addition to your team than you constantly shutting down their thoughts, ignoring them or not sharing information. They will feel undervalued and unable to make a difference. They may even feel unliked. And that’s the last thing you intended. You were just super busy and wanting to get the job done.
But, particularly in not for profits where resources are limited, you need to nurture your board, your volunteers and your team. You need to be less possessive and more open to new ideas. Hell, they may even work. Especially if you throw your support behind them.
And no, they’re not all going to work. And some of them won’t work because you haven’t supported them. But what if, just once or twice, you tried the new way….and it was actually better? Or it raised a shit load of money? For the organisation that you LOVE and are passionate about. Who wins then?
We are all guilty of thinking our way is the best way. And often it is. But, yes sad but true, we don’t know everything and the wisest and most successful of us realise that and EMBRACE it.
So go with it. And pick them up when it fails and support them. No eye rolling. No, I knew this would be the case. Why? Because don’t you wish someone had done that for you?
And the more people with ideas that join your ‘island’, the more development and growth you can make for the cause. But you are the foundations, the backbone, and your knowledge and your guidance is key to success.
With a little help from your friends, both old and new.
*Einstein’s definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.