When It’s Time for Change, Don’t Start with the Staff

When a nonprofit struggles it’s usually not because the staff are weak. It’s more likely the result of inadequate leadership and poor planning. Most employees are just as savvy as any management consultant in seeing what the problems are. Sometimes they are far better at identifying the people problems and steps in a process that are slowing things down or creating friction. In most cases, they just haven’t been in a position to make changes.

Populating an organization with new people who have no sense of an organization’s history and capabilities takes too much time and wastes a lot of knowledge gathered at great cost. While you often have to change the top leadership when it lacks the skills to manage a transition, it’s not helpful to replace a lot of employees lower in the organization. They need direction and leadership, but they have useful knowledge that takes new people a long time to learn.

  • Are you able to identify some causes of your organization’s current struggles?
  • Which of those challenges are related to staff, and which to leadership?