Some rules are meant to be broken…when things are not going your way…
Whether you are a manager at the office, a parent at home, or project lead for a nonprofit organization, getting people to follow your rules can be trying and exhausting.
An acquaintance of mine was complaining that his volunteers were not doing everything he wanted them to do. He shared, “Most are doing A, but no one is doing B or C.” He is extremely frustrated because he constantly sends email reminders and requests to get them to comply. He pleads, cajoles, sweet-talks, flatters and even highlights when someone does what they are “supposed to do”. Some tactics work for a short period of time. But nothing works in the long term.
When things are going our way, we need to stop and evaluate. Things are supposed to work smoothly together. So, when we find any type of resistance, chances are something isn’t matching. Either the rules or the people involved are not aligned. Once again – no one is doing anything wrong. It’s just not a perfect match, yet.
How can we get a better match?
There are two steps that we can use to better align the rules and the people involved. Once these are better aligned, things will run much smoother.
The two steps are:
- Understand each stakeholder’s needs and perceptions
- Create a solution that encompasses all needs.
Take this example: An entrepreneur is leading project and he is making effective use of volunteers to provide career counseling via on-line chat sessions, instructional video blogs, written blogs etc. The volunteers are happy to share their talents and skills with his clients because they are aligned with the overall mission and vision of his program.
Understanding each stakeholder’s needs:
This project is important to the entrepreneur because it is one of his product funnels. It is how his organization makes money, gets leads and increases his client database and subscriptions. To accomplish the entrepreneur’s goals he needs A, B and C in the following format, timeframe, and frequency. He has put together a procedure plan that fits his target client, his tool set and his capability. He also wants his volunteers to share these links with their contacts and their networks. By sharing and encouraging their contacts to subscribe to his website, he builds his contact list and makes money. He can see this as a great advantage to his organization. He can call upon these notable and established professionals to help build his contact list.
As implied above, these volunteers are coaches and entrepreneurs in their own right. They have their own businesses, family and other obligations. Although they support the overall vision, they have their own product funnels to feed, their own database and subscriptions to grow, and their own marketing plans to execute. The volunteers are already providing their talent, time and intellectual property for free toward this project. So, from their point of view, if they are freely giving of their talent – they should be able to volunteer at the level that THEY want, using the tools THEY are familiar with, and at a frequency that is convenient to THEM. And since they are professionals volunteering their services, they may appreciate better tools to write and schedule their intellectual property at their own frequency and format (over being micro-managed via email reminders). These tools may allow the volunteers more freedom and ease in which to supply the entrepreneur with what he really wants.
Creating a solution that encompasses all needs.
Now that we understand where each group stands, we can design a solution that works for most people.
The project manager entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily need to abandon what he really wants. He should stay focused on A, B and C. But these current volunteers may not be the vortex in which he can accomplish all that he wants.
1) Since everyone is already doing A – this set of volunteers cover that need perfectly.
2) Since no one in this volunteer group is consistently doing B or C, he may want to devise another solution for B and/or C. This may not be the right group to accomplish B or C.
3) He may need to pay someone (or get tools) to do some of the things not being done by the volunteers.
4) He may want to look into a tool that people can use to write whenever they want. The tool can then automatically schedule it for later publication that is in lined with his schedule and format needs. Or the tool can automatically choose from the pool of articles for appropriate publications. This might eliminate his need to blanket email reminders to everyone. And would eliminated volunteers from wasting their time reading email reminders that they do not need or appreciate.
5) If his current volunteers will not learn the new tools, maybe those are not the right caliper of volunteers. If he seems to be dummy down his tool usage or process improvement items, to match the capability of his volunteers, maybe these aren’t the right level of volunteers. Maybe he isn’t shooting high enough with these volunteer criteria. Maybe they are actually slowing him down. Maybe he needs to clearly identify his volunteer prerequisite or criteria (including ability work with certain tools).
6) If he wants the volunteers to work harder to expand his subscription list, he might consider sharing this full contact database with them. If the volunteers perceive that they will get 10 times the names they supply, they may be properly incentivized to help him increase his contact database (because they will be getting much more in return).
7) If he does not want to share his contact lists with his volunteers (which is totally fine), then he may want to consider other form of reciprocation for that extra effort.
8) If he is constantly reminding his volunteers what level he wants them to write, maybe his current volunteer’s target clients and his target clients are a mis-match. Maybe he needs to find volunteers that share his same target clients. Otherwise, he is asking his volunteers to do double duty, because when they are writing for his clients.
Bottom line: We can accomplish everything that we want, as long as we are not limiting ourselves to just one solution. In the above example, once the project manager released that notion that his volunteers had to provide him with everything that he wanted, he was able to define a better business plan to accomplish his goals.