by pam ashlund
PART I - NONPROFIT EYE BURNOUT SERIES
Why did you start working for a nonprofit? Me? In a nutshell, I joined because I found no meaning in helping someone else make money. After college I suffered a few very empty years. I worked for a property management company, and I was miserable.
I couldn't figure out how to inject meaning into my life and I figured either I start selling somebody else's shit, or I went to work helping people. It seemed like a basic "either-or" "good or evil" question. I choose the good.
But since I work in finance and management...I didn't immediately find meaning. When I did it wasn't because I was helping people (or helping the people who help people). It was because I found my passion. I LOVE teaching, coaching and mentoring (i.e managing a team and supervision). I LOVE figuring things out; automating meaningless tasks, producing fantastic and useful data, designing reports that solve problems (i.e. data mining, report writing). I LOVE driving a process past the barriers of bureaucracy, past inertia, past politics...to ACTION.
I found out that I'm a do-er. The only hitch I ran into was internal. I am driven by approval. Yes, maybe we all are...but. I found out that the things I excel at, that I really LOVE, are not really understood by too many. I exist on a quiet plane, rarely "met" by other minds. Sometimes someone catches a glimpse of my talents and when they are impressed, I just beam.
Accounting, Management and other Administrative tasks are pretty much thankless jobs. A sense of noble superiority doesn't really satisfy. And nobody is going to nominate you citizen of the year no matter how your work shines. And in nonprofits there is no such thing as a performance bonus. They are often disallowed by funding sources; or worst still, looked upon as some sort of moral lapse.
Now how is a nonprofit going to retain a talent when there is no carrot? The answer:
- it doesn't even get the talent to begin with; or
- if it does (often by getting the young and eager), it doesn't keep them.
Do I sound burnt out? I don't feel that way. I feel passionate. I feel committed. I feel resolved to be an agent of change. I feel like challenging myself. I feel like changing the world.
Technorati Tags: Job Security, Nonprofit, Retain Employees, Burnout, , Leadership, Accountability, Performance