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Blog: Better Manage Your Nonprofit Team in the New World of Work

Better Manage Your Nonprofit Team in the New World of Work

Managers have always been key culture-setters. They’re the frontline workers that dictate how employees experience an organization. As a result, it’s essential that managers fully embrace and be trained to lead in a hybrid or remote work approach that will set your organizational culture.

As with every aspect of management, it’s essential to be intentional about training both new and current managers to operate in this new work environment. Best practices for managing remote teams will have some distinct differences from in-person management. Where in the past it may have been as simple as having a manager trainee shadow a more experienced leader, these training opportunities must evolve into planned discussions around some of the key changes impacting the remote work experience.

Learning to support more styles of work

One of the key factors to consider in training managers today is that remote work provides both a much wider pool of applicants and, with that, some notable cross-cultural differences. Employees have long recognized that there are different workstyles on the East Coast versus the West Coast, or in northern versus southern states. Work style and cadence changes with geographic environments from more laid back to high-energy, high pressure work environments. When it comes to managing remote teams, best practices dictate that managers
respect different approaches to work. This can better nurture and retain top performers.

For example, when a star applicant based in a remote area of the country was hired by an organization based in the metro D.C. area, the employee became overwhelmed within just a few short weeks. Upon taking a step back, it became clear that the work environment felt frenetic to an employee who was used to a more relaxed pace of work. This acknowledgment of a work culture difference helped bridge the gap in expectations.

Download our free guide: Managing HR for Nonprofits with a Hybrid Work Environment
Download: Managing HR for Nonprofits with a Hybrid Work Environment

Delivering new levels of wellbeing support

Another area where managers are finding they must make changes is when it comes to addressing employees’ mental health. There’s far more openness about mental health challenges and the need for support today than there has been in the past. The combination of growing awareness of and engagement around social issues and the impact left by the pandemic has made it far more normal for employees to be open about their mental health
challenges. This is particularly true of Gen Z. One American Psychological Association report found that Gen Z is more likely to report mental health concerns than any other
demographic group.

As workplaces encourage people to bring their authentic selves, people are becoming more open about their mental health challenges. Managers may find they need some understanding of how to support people actively managing mental health concerns, including connecting them with more appropriate resources. Manager training must adapt, and should include insight into how and when to have these conversations, what areas should be referred to human resources, and how to best support employees with health struggles. While this is relevant for all organizations, nonprofits operating in high-stress environments or with at-risk populations should be especially attuned to this need. Organizations can provide training resources specific to their employee’s needs.

Investing in employee well-being also means that organizations must offer support that goes beyond health insurance. Many organizations have offered employee assistance programs (EAPs), which may come with a set number of free sessions. However, four days of support is no longer enough. Consider adding different resources outside of EAP, such as counseling. The KonTerra Group is one example of an organization available to provide counseling and support for employees who work in high-stress environments or relief organizations. In addition, more organizations are offering wellness days specifically geared toward supporting mental health with time off beyond sick and vacation days. Some organizations are evaluating ombudsman services, which support conflict resolution around workforce issues.

Help managers make the shift

Not all managers have made the mental shift to the new world of work. There can be frustration that comes with being forced to change a familiar method of mentoring and connecting with individuals. 

To help managers make the mental shift to managing a hybrid workforce, it’s essential to provide tools, training, and best practices for managing remote teams for managers on how to set up effective one-on-one sessions. The most successful managers will be those who are flexible in how they communicate and who understand that remote workers do need to be managed differently than people reporting in person.

It will also be important to remind managers that their perception that their team is ineffective may not be correct. Rather they are using different skill sets. Remote management is still about managing people – which has always been difficult – but simply requires more intentionality around checking in and connecting. 

Kendra Janevski, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Kendra Janevski, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Kendra’s varied background in non-profit organizations, associations and consulting is the perfect fit to lead Vault’s outsourced HR business unit. She drives creative process improvement for internal systems, designs forward-thinking policies and programs,...
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