EP 51: The Power of Pause with Alicia Schatteman

The Power of Pause

How are you and your team approaching debriefs and planning as we near the end of 2021? Debriefing (or reflection), as we have previously discussed, is an important tool to utilize when hoping to make positive changes within an organization. So, in this episode, Dr. Alicia Schatteman, Director at Center for Nonprofit and Associate Professor at Northern Illinois University, will be joining the show to share how you can tackle appropriate debriefing and planning to ensure your organization is set up for success in the new year.

What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode

  • How to set your organization up for success as we approach a new year. (2:05)
  • How to ensure your team is meeting their goals without feeling burned out. (4:39)
  • The best way to make your organization successful throughout a transition. (13:30)

Actionable Takeaway for HR Professionals:

  • Work with your local communities and see how you can make a difference. (19:45)

Actionable Takeaway for Executives:

  • Appreciate the position you have chosen for yourself and congratulate yourself on being a leader. (18:15)

Ideas Worth Sharing

“Communication is key. Start with those internal conversations first.” - Alicia Schatteman Click To Tweet

Resources In Today’s Episode

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Click Here for Audio Transcript

Traci Scherck: Well, welcome back to talent optimization my name is Tracy Scherck and I am joined today with Dr Alicia Schatteman and Dr Shatteman comes to us from northern Illinois university and she is responsible for the nonprofits.


Traci Scherck: In the nonprofit program there and I have to say I am so excited to have Dr Sherman on the show today because she was one of my professors when I received my MPA.


Traci Scherck: So with that we are chatting today about you know the power of pause and how we really think about debrief and plan as we end 2021 and all the crazy that the last few years have been and really look at where do we go from here for the next year Dr. Schatteman welcome.


Alicia Schatteman: Thank you so much for saying you can call me alicia I’m no longer grading your papers or.


Traci Scherck: No, I wasn’t sure I’ve been calling you alicia morning all right.


Alicia Schatteman: only in my classroom you call me Dr. Schatteman.


Traci Scherck: perfect.


Traci Scherck: Again we’re building rapport right so For those of you that have listened in to you know our employee and teamwork quadrant right, how would you want to be treated and how do you want to treat others to create that relationship so there’s a quick debrief.


Alicia Schatteman: There you go.


Alicia Schatteman: make a connection.


Traci Scherck: Absolutely so i’m super curious, what are you seeing, specifically in the nonprofit sector with you know covid maybe sort of kind of coming to a close, or not, you know we’ve got all these variants floating out there.


Traci Scherck: um you know what are you seeing with staffing and just you know are people’s batteries full are they depleted, you know what can we look at and reflect on to really set ourselves up for success going forward.


Alicia Schatteman: i’d like to think we’ve turned the corner with covid I hate to say it’s ending who knows I think we’ve turned the corner from real crisis.


Alicia Schatteman: into whatever this period is of they’re still providing services they’re still meeting the Community needs and meeting their mission.


Alicia Schatteman: And now, they have a little bit more bandwidth to figure out how, what do we do with staffing, are we looking at leadership changes I think some of our executive directors are very tired.


Alicia Schatteman: they’re a little more weary over the last year of trying to figure out how are we going to maintain services or, in some cases, increase our services.


Alicia Schatteman: And do that remotely in a safe way and then bring people back to the safeway, so I think there were retired so they’re thinking about leadership changes on the top end and then they’re also thinking about you know retention and recruitment at the bottom in.


Alicia Schatteman: figuring out it’s a tight Labor market So how do we recruit people that you need to fill those services section deliver those services.


Alicia Schatteman: And, knowing that they can get those lower level jobs in many different places right now there’s lots of opportunity so on both ends, I think they’re seeing it.


Alicia Schatteman: As boards really are thinking, I think, over the last year, they did put a pause on planning, because we didn’t even think about planning.


Alicia Schatteman: So I think now that some of them have reached out and to say that they are interested in planning and working, yet a year or two maybe three years out what does that mean.


Alicia Schatteman: So there are some short term pressures and now I think they’re starting to think about some longer term leadership challenges.


Traci Scherck: yeah absolutely So how do we design that dream team for organization, knowing that our strategy, hopefully, now that we’re stabilized is changing in order to do that.


Traci Scherck: And, knowing the tight Labor market we’re in you know, can we actually address some of the performance challenges that we’ve been having, in order to move some things forward.


Traci Scherck: You know, I was talking with a client yesterday who’s a nonprofit client who serves, who has lots of grant funding.


Traci Scherck: And, as we know, the grant funding it comes and goes and when we’re in times like this the grant funding will say hey it’s being cut off on the state than a week before it’s supposed to be cut off.


Traci Scherck: Oh just kidding we’re gonna give it to you for another four months, so we have these expansions and contractions of the Labor market and, as you know, nonprofit leaders, how do we deal with that in a way that doesn’t leave folks burned out.


Alicia Schatteman: yeah many nonprofits are looking at their Labor force so first they’re looking at the like forced to They all need to be back in person.


Alicia Schatteman: How many people are coming back in person and what does that mean for.


Alicia Schatteman: The financial efficiency of the organization, maybe it’s a reduction in your leasing space, maybe it’s letting go and we’re building their own.


Alicia Schatteman: Leasing a smaller space, and those are those are some things that.


Alicia Schatteman: they’re definitely talking about right now is who’s coming back and what does that even look like.


Alicia Schatteman: But then, using a flexible workforce so maybe using contractual or our interns that has a shorter time period so you’re not making a commitment, you know for.


Alicia Schatteman: A full time employee and all the benefits that might come with that so thinking through their flexible kind of bottle of what that looks like I know number of human service organizations.


Alicia Schatteman: All of their say counseling staff are contractual workers so they’re more they can hire them and be a little bit more flexible, depending on demand.


Alicia Schatteman: versus kind of the full time employee model, so I think all of those models around the table.


Alicia Schatteman: it’s going to take some creative thinking on the boards to think through well this actually save US dollars and or allow us to better serve our mission, and those are those are tough to balance, efficiency and.


Alicia Schatteman: You know effectiveness you’ve learned that in the MBA program those are things to definitely bounce back and forth, can we deliver our programs and services as well.


Alicia Schatteman: And we financially efficient and those are sometimes at odds and then over the last several years you know things like equity know popped in, and how does that influence our decision makers.


Traci Scherck: Absolutely, and I think, as we kind of look backwards and debrief on what have we done over the last two years, not only have we have coven but we’re really paying close attention to the diversity equity and inclusion.


Traci Scherck: And that brings things on the table, such as your employee handbook do you have you have bias, or you know institutional racism built into that and guess what these are never comfortable conversations.


Alicia Schatteman: yeah I know I had a conversation with the nonprofit a while ago on offering health benefits and and they’re very small, you know, three to six staff never they’ve never offered medical benefits.


Alicia Schatteman: And that really excludes people like single parents or single individuals that don’t have a spouse or partner that has medical benefits.


Alicia Schatteman: So you’re building in bias in to who could actually work for you that’s problematic and maybe there’s other ways to address that and certainly some of them have been given.


Alicia Schatteman: You know, some extra pay so that they could purchase individual plans, whatever that looks like but those are hard conversations to have when it’s a model that they’ve used relatively successfully, for maybe even decades it’s.


Alicia Schatteman: That Oh, we just don’t offer medical benefits, so that means everyone here has to have medical benefits of different ways.


Alicia Schatteman: Right not be the employee that covers the.


Alicia Schatteman: Family whatever so yeah that’s definitely problematic, and I think those are something we’re looking at the other thing I think they’re really paying close attention to salaries and.


Alicia Schatteman: Not just non monetary but also monetary benefits, making sure that you’re in line with the market and the experience that you want we’re also pushing organizations to actually tell us what the salary range is don’t make it a hidden secret.


Alicia Schatteman: you’re just meeting people from from applying if you don’t actually tell them, by the way we want you to work, you know.


Alicia Schatteman: 40 hours we get a high level job and we couldn’t afford to pay $25,000 people should know that if they apply.


Alicia Schatteman: or vice versa, that maybe it would be more attractive to people if you actually disclose with the salary ranges of salary disclosures a big thing.


Alicia Schatteman: And then having market value rates that that not only compensate for the job position, but also the experience and training that you’re asking for a graduate degree.


Alicia Schatteman: You know, in the nonprofit world it wasn’t that long ago where we didn’t have degrees and nonprofit anything.


Alicia Schatteman: You got a business degree got a political science degree in public administration degree.


Alicia Schatteman: Or you found your way into an organization and just kind of stayed there and built up the experience to become eventually and he.


Alicia Schatteman: that’s no longer the case we have undergraduate graduate PhD programs in nonprofit management studies philanthropy all of those things so.


Alicia Schatteman: there’s more credentials and more education out there are you attracting those individuals if you’re looking at replacing a lot, especially among serving up.


Alicia Schatteman: you’re surprised at what those salaries, what they can because they do have that background, education, which they just didn’t.


Traci Scherck: Right and when you look at them coming in with that background in education, I think so often we’re looking at.


Traci Scherck: You know outputs versus outcomes, something I think I tore a page out of your book alicia.


Traci Scherck: You know it’s like what is the output Okay, the output is that we created this program but the outcome is what you know we’re looking to increase the quality of an individual’s life, and I think when it needs to be more specific than that so.


Traci Scherck: You know, but, but when we look at that we’re also looking at that, with our staff, and you know the nonprofit’s that we’ve worked with so often are saying hey Tracy we.


Traci Scherck: have no idea what an HR program looks like that really engages our staff so that they can be fulfilled in the work that they’re doing that they’re making a living wage meaning we’re going to keep them for a long time.


Traci Scherck: different levels inside of the organization and.


Traci Scherck: organization that institutional knowledge is key for the organization to be successful, so there are programs to make that happen, but you know you have to that’s something that that individual with an education comes in, can lay that out really quickly and easily.


Alicia Schatteman: yeah you bring up a good point around basically mobility within these organizations most the vast majority of our profits are very small.


Alicia Schatteman: Right, so if you want to be the marketing director of an organization likely you’re going to have to go to a big organization there’s just not another.


Alicia Schatteman: place for you to go there’s one person who does that job in your organization so there’s just normal transition in the nonprofit sector because of the size issue in a certain size organization, the only way for advancement is outside.


Alicia Schatteman: And that does it creates that you know that institutional memory loss every time, so you could have a very young staff.


Alicia Schatteman: If you’re small we’re going to stay there for two or three years, you know and then one and that’s just the reality, unless you know you’re constantly focusing on growth, which isn’t necessarily always always wanted or needed that every organization needs to grow.


Traci Scherck: Right, and I think that creativity, I think back to my nonprofit days and I had an executive director that was trying so hard to keep me and she took my HR manager role and turned it into.


Traci Scherck: director of human relations, and I was now responsible for all the fund development all the marketing and HR and side of it.


Traci Scherck: we’re really good at job titles were very good job titles on the non-profit world.


Alicia Schatteman: I just got an email me about that.


Alicia Schatteman: do good job titles kind of matter, and I said well there’s two ways to look at it.


Alicia Schatteman: We can’t give you a raise but we’ll give you a very significant job title so we’re going to make the Vice President of whatever or executive whatever we’re gonna do the job title thing.


Alicia Schatteman: But job titles do matter it matters you know for the internally it matters but also matters to the external world of.


Alicia Schatteman: What are you responsible for what kinds of things are you supposed to do this so that job descriptions, just like comma comma comma comma and you’re just doing all those things you like and you’re really not doing all those things right.


Alicia Schatteman: Right you can’t do all of this, so it’s a signal to the external world is how much they value the employees and also who’s going to be attracted into that next.


Alicia Schatteman: When that becomes an opening so if you’re gonna do you have all the comments after your name they’re like oh i’m not like I get through all of that, with no staff or no extra resources so who are you going to attract I think that’s problematic.


Traci Scherck: yeah I think that job titles can be problematic, one of the things that she did incredibly well, though, is she saw strengths in me that I didn’t see in myself.


Traci Scherck: And so you know her saying hey Tracy you know you have an amazing way of connecting with people and enrolling them in our mission I think fund development would be a great stretch opportunity i’m like what are you talking about my entire career has been an HR you want me to go.


Traci Scherck: You know.


Alicia Schatteman: You know relations yeah.


Traci Scherck: You want me to go raise $2 million for whatever i’m like all right, and we did it right.


Traci Scherck: But that’s we’re kind of those talent pathway is and hey if you’re here if you’re listening and going, how do I keep these key folks that made me something to look out but I for sure.


Traci Scherck: But the flip side of this is, if you are in that executive director role going i’m out.


Traci Scherck: i’m crispy.


Traci Scherck: i’m out i’m kind of biding my time here, but how do I set my organization up for success as I exit what are your thoughts on that.


Alicia Schatteman: So i’ve seen a couple of transitions that I thought were done, really, really well and and others that have struggled.


Alicia Schatteman: Particularly with founders.


Alicia Schatteman: So.


Alicia Schatteman: You know executive directors that created the nonprofit basically invaded their career stayed for 2030 years and they have a very hard time leaving.


Alicia Schatteman: You know so flippantly help say you need to go to Arizona, for two years and then come back like you need to go somewhere so you’re about watching right.


Alicia Schatteman: it’s kind of like moving in beside your kids who live next door like it’s really, really hard to watch it.


Alicia Schatteman: You just can’t be that close to it, because your organization really won’t stand on its own two feet, if you remain that close to it and that engaged, so I think i’ve seen that kind of be a little problematic where i’ve seen really good transitions is having a plan.


Alicia Schatteman: really thinking through what is this traditionally like what is the organization stand to lose as I exit and a lot of that is usually relationships.


Alicia Schatteman: So what kinds of things can I make sure are in place before I leave a let people know what you’re doing like communicate communicate communicate, you know that you have one executive director here announced.


Alicia Schatteman: that she was going to leave in nine months, so the organization they sent that out the community knows the organization is planning for their.


Alicia Schatteman: They said they were going to basically transition somebody internal there’s going to be a you know, a transition period where they’re going to basically co direct and then.


Alicia Schatteman: By the end of the nine months, then this Executive Director will be retiring so that is like wow I mean that hardly ever happens.


Alicia Schatteman: that’s if you have the time and you want to be that transparent with the process, I think that works, really, really well for a heavily Community embedded kind of organization.


Alicia Schatteman: Other founders or other executive directors, they want to still stay engaged, but they don’t want to be the person in charge anymore.


Alicia Schatteman: So they’re like oh i’m going to move to the board generally a bad idea doesn’t mean it doesn’t work it just generally a bad idea.


Alicia Schatteman: Because when you’ve been on the other side of the table, you have inside knowledge of how things work how they’re supposed to work and your processes and systems and you will get disgruntled if those things are you know followed.


Alicia Schatteman: In subsequent year so generally I say if you’re an ED like exit stage left don’t try to transition on the board right away.


Alicia Schatteman: Because people on the board know you in a different capacity and so they’ll say well you know how this works out of the work that every decision basically.


Alicia Schatteman: You become a driver again, even though you’re not an official capacity so those are kind of some of that transitional things that i’ve seen.


Alicia Schatteman: It takes a very strong generally board chair or President to kind of oversee the process, because the Board is the one that’s going to be around during that transition and managing that.


Alicia Schatteman: So if you have, if you have board members who’ve been through a transition in the past, when you need board members who have that experience recruit them now.


Alicia Schatteman: get the money or people who have that experience of handling this the past and kind of know the minefields.


Alicia Schatteman: out that transitional period, I mean other organizations, if it was it could send you more into a crisis of the.


Alicia Schatteman: executive director, they could be ill, they could be it could have passed away and all those kinds of things, but have an idea.


Alicia Schatteman: In the event of what we do, we have somebody internally that we’ve talked to that we’re thinking could be our next leader.


Alicia Schatteman: Have we had those discussions are they interested don’t automatically assume that we need to go external.


Alicia Schatteman: Have those conversations internal first and then, and then they may tell you yeah absolutely i’m ready i’m interested or no way like i’m in a place in my life, where i’m comfortable in my role, I think we need to look externally start with your internal conversations first.


Traci Scherck: What I love about what you just said was communication is key we’re going to build trust through the process, but the other thing is with that communication.


Traci Scherck: If we’re not having those conversations with our high potentials that we want to move into these higher level roles they may be looking externally and we don’t know it.


Traci Scherck: So you know, make sure you’re having those conversations, because I see so often not just a nonprofit organizations.


Traci Scherck: But with leaders inside of organizations, they just think everybody knows and it’s so and so’s going to step into this position and that person has no idea that their names on the docket for that.


Traci Scherck: And guess what they’ve already checked out 50% because they’re searching for a job, had they known they could have been groomed and been 100% engaged with your organization, so I love, how you just leave that out.


Traci Scherck: So, as we start to wrap up you know kind of this debrief looking forward the planning that comes with it we always like to end with what is one key takeaway that you have, for your Executive Directors listening in.


Alicia Schatteman: um I say they need to be most really need to have a lot of appreciation.


Alicia Schatteman: For the work that they do on a day to day basis they chose a career knowing they were not going to be billionaires and only got to be able to travel to Europe every summer I mean they’ve taken significant.


Alicia Schatteman: pay cuts, probably with their education and training, they could have gone and done other things, so they are already monetary committing themselves and their families.


Alicia Schatteman: to lower earning over their lifetime, they just by saying i’m going to be a leader in the nonprofit sector you do that, and I don’t think we hold up those leaders as much as we do in other industries and other worlds.


Alicia Schatteman: So I think our executive director team it just a ton of congratulations, one for doing that and being able to have these organizations together.


Alicia Schatteman: Over the last year and a half, there is no playbook for what we’ve just been through and what we’re still in.


Alicia Schatteman: And they had to rely on their own resources, their own background and experience as much as they could.


Alicia Schatteman: And their boards and many boards I think we’re are on autopilot when we’re on autopilot before covid and, if anything, there’s been.


Alicia Schatteman: way more board engagement during this last year and a half, because these leaders needed people to say what do you think we should do.


Alicia Schatteman: i’m not sure what do you think is the best course of action so it’s really caused a lot of our boards to be more engaged, which is great, I hope that continues after when we may be started to level up.


Traci Scherck: awesome, thank you for sharing that And what about for HR leaders and granted HR leaders and nonprofits you have to be a pretty decent sized nonprofit for that, but what would you say for HR leaders in nonprofits are those that are really in that HR role.


Alicia Schatteman: And they have a tough job because really a very tight Labor market, and we are trying to recruit young people into the sector, so our degree here in northern is trying to.


Alicia Schatteman: Trying to work with students to say there there’s definitely a career path here for you, depending on what your interest is.


Alicia Schatteman: You have lots of opportunity so work with your local community colleges and universities.


Alicia Schatteman: and think about what programs, they have you can connect with whether that’s the marketing part will accounting nonprofit studies, whatever happens to be.


Alicia Schatteman: We have a lot of young people who want to make a difference in their lives.


Alicia Schatteman: And in their communities where they come from so don’t overlook kind of the individuals that may or may not have expressed, yes, I want to come work for your particular organization, but they are passionate if you can connect it to their mission to the mission in the.


Alicia Schatteman: communities, you will attract those younger individuals and then same thing, on the other end is be open and transparent with people, what can you offer.


Alicia Schatteman: Not just salaries and benefits, but also just community and the unpaid benefits that you have don’t discount that that’s why a lot of people get into the sector.


Alicia Schatteman: it’s for that sense of purpose when they go home at night that they know they’ve made a difference, so I think they have a lot of things that they can bring individuals really want to bring to the sector.


Traci Scherck: awesome Thank you so much for sharing that and for joining us today to chat a little bit about what does this look like, as we close out 2021 into 2022


Traci Scherck: So if you are interested in learning more about alicia and the work that she does. We will have her linkedin and information to the ngo studies and northern Illinois studies in the show notes.


Traci Scherck: Also.


Traci Scherck: have no idea how to start to create an HR organization, we have an amazing tool and that’s our talent optimization foundation membership program which gives you access to certified HR professionals.


Traci Scherck: Twice a month, along with live webinars where we will go through actually how to lay out these types of programs inside of your organization and that information is also in our show notes so thanks so much for joining us and have a great rest of your day.