A direct approach can inspire troubled staff

June 12, 2013

A direct approach can inspire troubled staff

Nonprofit managers often have a tight-knit staff that gets along well and works together to help the organization achieve its mission. However, it can be extremely challenging when one cog in the team isn't pulling his or her weight, and is on last legs with the organization. According to a recent study from CareerBuilder, 32 percent of managers between 25 and 34 years old have an employee they are thinking about letting go and 24 percent over those over the age of 55 agreed.

"It's important that managers be as direct as possible when dealing with employees that, for whatever reason, aren't a good fit for their teams," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder.

Managers need to be direct with staff
Getting rid of a member of the team can be especially painful for nonprofits managers, but it's important to be open and honest with these problem employees. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they point out shortcomings in performance to staff members, 21 percent take away responsibilities and 8 percent move the worker to another sector of the organization, but these are passive actions that can anger employees. It's better to just issue a formal warning to staff members who employers are considering firing, which 42 percent of managers said they do.

"Fortunately, a plurality of managers in our survey were open to confronting the situation through a formal discussion or warning; however, some will do nothing at all or even resort to passive aggressive behaviors that can only prolong a negative working arrangement," Haefner said. "It's important that workers be aware of such warning signs and if necessary take steps to improve their situations."

Get staff to reach their potential
Working at a nonprofit is often a labor of love. Many people who are employed at such organizations are at the office long hours with less than favorable pay in a stressful environment. This is why nonprofit managers need to keep their employees motivated at all times. High morale can lead to more donations, better events and improved communication throughout the entire team.

An article for the Harvard Business Review stated unmotivated workers can bring down an organization, especially a nonprofit, so managers have to keep their teams happy. One simple way leaders can do this is doing something that will drive an employee to succeed. Staff members know their managers have their best interest at heart and often respond to what the source calls a theoretical "kick in the pants." 


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We first started using First Nonprofit’s Unemployment Savings Program when we were a small startup nonprofit.  We didn’t have an HR department and needed expertise in the event that an unemployment claim was made.  We knew we were eligible to be a reimbursing employer, but weren’t sure how to navigate that process.  They made it easy to set things up, plan for, and then manage claims when they came at a very reasonable cost. The amount of time and stress they’ve saved us dealing with all this has been worth way more than the cost.  We’ve now grown to a large nonprofit and do have an HR department but have no plans to stop using their services.  I highly recommend them to every nonprofit I come into contact with!


Throughout our membership in the Unemployment Savings Program, First Nonprofit understood our demands, community dynamics, and the importance of seamless services; that allowed us to serve our constituents better.

Prevent Blindness America, Chicago, IL

Because INCS advocates for the operating conditions that allow charter public schools to provide high quality public education, partnering with First Nonprofit was an easy decision. First Nonprofit’s unemployment programs provide our member schools two operating elements crucial to their ability to provide high quality public education: savings and budget certainty. Capable, committed teachers are the key to student success. By participating in the unemployment insurance savings plan, charter public schools gain peace of mind and are able to invest more money in their teachers.

Illinois Network of Charter Schools, Chicago, IL

It has been our sincere pleasure to maintain a strong, vibrant business partnership with First Nonprofit. We greatly admire their strong industry knowledge, technical expertise, constant professionalism, knowledgeable and dedicated staff. They are always extremely responsive, personable and provide us with the necessary guidance and recommendations on a numerous variety of employment scenarios.

Thresholds, Chicago, IL

NYCON members who use First Nonprofit’s programs enjoy enduring savings and improved efficiency. Our association knows that success, because from the beginning, we achieved the same great benefits. Great savings, seamless technology, and responsive service. NYCON highly recommends First Nonprofit’s remarkable unemployment solutions.

New York Council of Nonprofits, Albany, NY

Visually Impaired Preschool Services has been a client of First Non-Profit since it was first offered as a benefit of VisionServe Alliance. We completed a thorough evaluation of cash savings to our agency before taking advantage of this wonderful benefit and it has been a very wise decision. Our experience with the processes from accounting to claims have been professional, expeditious and easy.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY

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Neurologic Music Therapy Services of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ

First Nonprofit has been easy to work with and makes the administrative process easier and smoother. We enjoy working with you.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY