I recently met with a woman who was newly hired as a fundraiser for a small non-profit. She has been on job for just under a year and is frustrated with the lack of success she’s had thus far.
I listened to the various things she has tried and to what degree they’d worked. I asked a lot of questions about her process and her day to day schedule. Her answers came out as excuses as to why she couldn’t make faster progress. She told me about the many directions the organization drags her in and how many hats she has to wear during the day. In other words she was already shutting down any notion I might have as to how trying something new or scheduling herself in a different way might help her even before I’d suggested anything!
I tried to offer a few suggestions of things that have worked for a friend of mine who is in the same position as she at a very similar organization. She told me why each would not work in a place like hers. I offered a couple of new directions that had worked for us at The Cooley’s Anemia Foundation but none of those would work with her board, her boss, her budget, her community etc. I even offered to set up a meeting between her and my fundraising friend who has been at it for 40 years but she thought that she’d be wasting his time because her place was not in a position to do the things he might suggest.
When I left there, my stomach was in knots. I’m not good at fielding complaints without resolution. It frustrates the hell out of me. It isn’t that I need to have an answer to every issue, but I need to feel like the person is at least seeking an answer. What I saw there was someone who will wallow in their own mess, make no progress at all, blame the organization and eventually get fired and blame that on her organization.
I complain. I absolutely do. We all do from time to time. Sometimes complaining is just venting and people don’t want answers; I get that. But in a business setting complaining about not achieving your objectives without being open to anything new is stupid and a guaranteed path to failure.
2015 Motto: “Life is choice. Your very next moment can be different if you choose it to be”