People Are The Hardest Part Right Now

Hard. Difficult. Challenging. Exhausting. Overwhelming.

Nope. I am not talking about the pandemic.

These are the adjectives I am hearing over and over from nonprofit leaders describing what it is like to manage their teams right now.

Managing people through the pandemic, the call for an end to systemic racism, and a contentious presidential election is by far the biggest stress for nonprofit executives. By far.

Yes, even bigger than financial stress for most.

Daily, I am in conversations with managers who have a team member (or two or 10) who are simply checked out—unable to really do the work that needs to get done.

My advice:

  1. Be patient. Everyone is juggling more than they ever thought they could, and some are learning that they can’t.
  2. Remind employees why they are so valuable and ask what you can do to help them so they can continue to bring that value to the team. Be willing to accommodate him or her as much as you can, perhaps offering specific accommodations or teamwide solutions. For example, I recently learned of a local organization who is offering recharge days, asking all employees not to work on the third Friday of the month.
  3. Set a timetable for them to truly get back in the game and put it in writing. Make it a goal to bring his or her full value back to the team.
  4. Continue to check-in at least weekly with your team members. Focus first on them as a person and then them as employee. There will not be a one-time solution.

I am an optimist by my nature, but deep down I know Hard. Difficult. Challenging. Exhausting. Overwhelming. are the management adjectives of our time and they are here to stay.

So, let me cycle back to number 1: Be patient with your team and with yourself. Remember that steps 1-4 apply to you, too. If you don’t have your own support network, your safe place where you can vent, you need one. For some, you have found that in monthly video conversations with the Armstrong McGuire team. If you would like to join a future conversation, let me know.


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