A number of years ago, I decided that it was in my best interest to develop a personal statement of management philosophy that would speak to my ideas about managing other people and workloads in the non-profit work environment. My statement – written as a bulleted list that was intended to be telling about my actions as a manager yet somewhat humorous at the same time – was aptly titled Frank’s Guidelines. A single-page, typed document, Frank’s Guidelines has been taken along on interviews and for several years it was tacked on a bulletin board in my office.
Frank’s Guidelines has been around for quite some time now, occasionally tweaked here and there but substantively the same today as when I first put it together . As I write this, I struggle to remember just how old Frank’s Guidelines is. Suffice to say, I do remember taking it to a job interview in 2001 (I got the job) and it is likely a few years older than that. Nevertheless, here is Frank’s Guidelines – and hence, the springboard and title for my blog space:
- Our customers must come first
Plain and simple. If you can’t get behind the mission, customers, or cause of the organization, there is probably no point in going any further.
- Meet or exceed the basic requirements or regulations
I have high expectations of myself and I push myself to perform above the “baseline”. I also value this quality when I find it in others.
- Mistakes are OK as long as they don’t compromise the first two
Everyone makes mistakes. In the majority of cases, the sky does not fall when someone makes a mistake. Get over it, learn from mistakes, and keep moving forward as long as mistakes are not so egregious that they compromise the first two bullets.
- I’ll go anywhere or try anything at least once (and as long as it is not illegal)
Essentially, this is creative problem solving and “thinking outside the box”. I am willing to try new solutions to old problems and to take an occasional calculated risk as long as it does not compromise policy, ethics or the law.
I like surprises on my birthday but not in the organization. Please do not surprise me with a project that is due today or a fiscal issue that was imminent weeks ago. I also work hard to keep you from being unnecessarily surprised.
- Look for the positive in every person and situation
I accentuate the positive, especially in the people who work with me. Everyone wants to be acknowledged or recognized. When I reinforce the positive behavior of others, I have already increased the likelihood that they are motivated to continue to perform positively.
- Do an honest and clean job
I work with an “open book” mentality such that anyone can stop by to have a look and there is nothing to be embarrassed by later. No hidden agendas. I do my expected job everyday to the best of my ability and go home at the end of the day.
- Maintain constructive relationships and the self-esteem of others
This is really about burning bridges. The non-profit community operates on relationship building and partnerships. Once you put a negative out there, it is very difficult – if not impossible – to take it back and typically you reap what you sow.
- Help other staff to develop professionally
Part of my job as a manager of people is to ensure that they have the resources and tools they need (within reason) to develop professionally. A thriving, capable and efficient staff that is able to problem solve on their feet sustains an organization.
- You take the monkey with you
The monkey is a problem. It is OK to come to me with your complaints or problems; however, I hope that in your next breath there will be a suggestion or an idea to resolve that problem. I allow staff to wrestle with their problems in a supportive environment. Again, other staff need to develop professionally.
- No whining
Ditto the previous bullet.
As a strong advocate of team building and the team process, it would be hypocritical of me not to support the team decision or to override the team decision. Let’s try it!
- I don’t claim to know everything
If I think that I know everything, there is really nowhere left to go, is there? There is always so much more to learn, see, and do. If I don’t know enough about a particular subject or issue, I will tell you that.
- Be enthusiastic
Similar to the first bullet, I am excited about the organization, mission, customers and people I work with! I want my enthusiasm to be contagious!
- Take the initiative to make things better
Whether I am streamlining a financial report for the Board of Directors, changing the toner in the copy machine, or taking the garbage out, I initiate making a situation better. As the old adage goes, if you see something that needs doing…
- Represent us well in the community
I recognize that every time that I step out of the door, I am shaping an image of how the community sees the organization. I always want it to be a positive one!
Last – but certainly not least – I have a sense of humor and I like to use humor appropriately in the workplace. More important, I am not afraid to laugh at myself!