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Steal This: Take Them Out for Coffee

by Jennifer Hutchins

“Thanks for meeting with me,” I said to one of MANP’s newer staff members. “No, thank you!” she replied. “In all of the nonprofits I’ve worked, no one has ever taken me out for coffee!”

From the desk of Jennifer Hutchins, MANP Executive Director

Of course, she was referring to senior directors—not direct supervisors or coworkers. At first, I was surprised but, then again, who am I kidding? Who has the time to chat with every single employee when we are already wearing dozens of hats and saving the world by Labor Day?

I started scheduling informal, mid-year “check-ins” with staff a few months ago to get a sense of how people were adapting to new colleagues and to me, in particular, the new boss. In my prior economic development work, I’d learned that happier employees are more productive and like to stick around, so managing the team became a top priority early on. Indeed, it’s a job seeker’s market out there, so recruitment and retention of good staff is a top priority for many organizational leaders.

But, without the lure of the cushy paycheck, how the heck are we supposed to compete? It’s not going to be easy, but Maine’s nonprofits benefit from having other attributes younger workers value. Attributes that we need to promote and nurture proactively. “Millennials want to do meaningful work, take on leadership roles, engage in professional development and maintain a work-life balance. They thrive in a culture of innovation and collaboration. By keeping these generational values in mind, nonprofits can better attract and retain talent from this age group,” reported the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016. When I heard this at a June conference in D.C. put on by our friends at the National Council of Nonprofits, I was reminded once again how important it is to keep our staff motivated and engaged and to establish an organizational brand that appeals to younger workers.

In this light, investing time in a 30-minute chai/latte break seems like a no-brainer.

One thought on “Steal This: Take Them Out for Coffee

Steve Mortimer says:

Terrific advice, Jen! I learned this when I was in my first managerial position, and it has paid off over the years in high staff morale & productivity, low turnover, and greater “customer” satisfaction. Recognition for work well done, having a voice in decision-making, and being respected have been important to human beings for a very long time, and the better we get at it, the higher our expectations. Continuous improvement!

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