In this case, both groups were effectively delivering the promised services but because of their size, it was thought a combined group would reduce overhead costs; the savings could be spent on increasing the types and extent of program services. ESCOT produced three products to assist CADR in making its choice. First, we provided a checklist of items to be considered. Once assured that program services would not suffer, the Board of Directors was principally concerned with the financial impact of the combination. ESCOT consultants prepared an annual budget for the combined group which showed there was sufficient money available to fund the new organization. Finally, ESCOT produced a cash flow analysis that showed the combination could take place without needing to borrow money or to use up significant amounts of cash on hand. This was an important finding as most new initiatives raise ongoing costs long before they raise revenues. With these assurances, the Board of Directors moved ahead with the combined organization.
Now having a new, larger and different organization, the Executive Director, Peter Glassman asked ESCOT to propose an organization structure to integrate the two organizations. The ESCOT consultants reviewed all available policy guidelines, interviewed the principal staff members of CADR and proposed a structure and assignment of duties to maximize the effectiveness of the new group. As part of this effort, we also designed an employee performance appraisal system; every staff member was being asked to perform new duties and some would be in a strange environment. An appraisal system would help in the transition, insuring that communications were open and expectations clearly understood by both employee and supervisor. ESCOT consultants have many years of experience in developing these systems in all types of organizations. The consultants were able to deliver a customized appraisal system to the new CADR organization quickly and inexpensively. Mr. Glassman was enthusiastic about the resulting system: "This system will be an important management element in our new organization", he said.
Case Study 2
In recent years, Strategic Planning has gained increasing importance as a tool in the management of organizations of every kind. It is used both to evaluate present operations and to chart a course for the years ahead taking into account the particular circumstances of the organization at the time. Last year Richard Miller, Board Chair of the Empire State Performing Arts Center, commonly called The Egg, asked ESCOT for assistance in developing a Strategic Plan for that organization. Two assigned consultants worked with the Board and the Executive Director, Peter Lesser, to complete this project.
The process initiated by the ESCOT consultants was designed to insure both the quality of the Plan and the commitment of the Board members to it. They began by interviewing Board members to determine their concerns and to identify major issues that needed to be addressed. Since they discovered no serious differences or sources of conflict at this stage they moved immediately to the next step. They convened a day-long Strategic Planning retreat at an off-site setting and, using the insights gained through the interviews, guided the Board through the work of developing the Plan. The consultants designed the meeting to assist the Board in arriving at a consensus about the various aspects of the plan and to insure the participation of all the members in decisions about what should be included.
The group was first asked to review and refine the mission of the organization and their vision for the future. They then examined current objectives and developed a revised statement that responded to present needs. They next took a critical look at current strategies and analyzed the internal environment for organizational strengths and weaknesses. They then examined the external environment to determine opportunities for particular program initiatives and looked for any threats to the organization that needed to be addressed. With this analysis as a base, they developed strategies to employ to carry out the mission and vision and identified actions needed to implement them. A further step involved identifying ways to evaluate these action steps.
Following the retreat, the Executive Director, with the assistance of the consultants, prepared a draft Strategic Plan, which incorporated the agreements reached at the retreat, and distributed it for comment before preparation of the final document. At the end, the Performing Arts Center had achieved a road map to guide its efforts during the next four to five years.
Case Study 3
Board Development, as we have offered it here at ESCOT, is designed to address any issues that need attending in order for a Board to work more coherently and effectively. Our consultants gather data through interviews with Board members and, using this information, plan a retreat. At the retreat, the consultants help the Board to achieve consensus on the resolution of identified issues and to work better together as a team. Their role is to help the group address its concerns. They do not make substantive recommendations during the process or at its conclusion.
Late last year, Images Cinema in Williamstown, Massachusetts, contacted ESCOT. After discussion with the Executive Director and Board officers, all agreed that a board development effort was in order. The two consultants assigned traveled to Williamstown and spent a day interviewing small groups of Board members. As a result of these interviews, they proposed a retreat for Board members to review organization's mission, and renew their commitment to it; explore the roles of the Executive Director and President and, also the members' role in building a successful organization; improve their general operations; and explore the need for a formal strategic plan.
These objectives were designed to address the issues of this particular organization. Each organization has its own issues and therefore it's own set of objectives.
At the retreat, under the guidance of the consultants, the board, in small and total group configurations, worked through a process that dealt with each of these objectives. After some initial exercises to increase comfort levels and trust in the group, they reviewed the organization mission and made appropriate changes. They then had an exchange with the Executive Director on mutual expectations and discussed desired characteristics of the President looking toward the selection of the next incumbent. In the afternoon they discussed how the Board functioned as a group and decided on a number of improvements. One of the consultants gave a presentation on strategic planning but the group decided to postpone starting such an effort until a new president was in place.
Decisions were captured on chart paper as they were made. The Board members felt that this had been a well-spent and productive day and that they were better prepared at the end to move forward.
Case Study 4
Management coaching is an emerging technique to help develop mangers more quickly and efficiently. This technique is often used in large organizations to improve the performance of key staff; these groups have the capacity to select the best of their executives to help guide other managers address new issues or improve their organization skills. Using mentors in this way is an effective means of developing skills without requiring new managers "to attend the school of hard knocks."
Smaller organizations can benefit from these techniques, too although they may be more difficult to apply due to the limited staff available to act as guides to more junior staff. Unfortunately, the process may be most important at times of staff reductionssuch as many organizations are facing now; duty assignments are shifting and there often limited written procedures to guide newly assigned staff. Senior managers can make a significant contribution to the long term safety of their organization by systematically setting out to assist, to coach, to guide their best subordinates in learning to be more competent managers.
The demands on the top management of non-profit organizations and local governments often cause them to face new challenges where their experience may be limited: where are they to turn for coaching help? ESCOT offers consulting services to assist these directors. For example, we assisted the president of the board of directors of a new non-profit group establish policies and procedures for his group, organize and assign functions to individuals and provided advise on soliciting funds and acquiring new members. Prior to each meeting, the president advised us on the key topics he wanted to discuss and we were able to bring our most experienced consultants to bear on the issue at hand.
In another situation, we worked with an executive director seeking advice on how to make his organization more effective and efficient on a broad range of issues. We established a one-year term contract where we agreed to provide assistance on any issue facing the organization. Some of the issues could be handled in a single meeting; others required a data gathering analysis routine where a team had to be assembled to investigate the problem.
In both examples, we were "on call" to address management problems as they arose and to help resolve them on a timely basisNOW!-- as managers must do every day. We are able to bring the diversity of experience that comes from having access to twenty-five consultants to "coach" the manager on the line.
If your interested in management coaching for you organization, you might try, ACTION COACHING by Dotlich and Cairo to get an overview of the process. It's an easy read, but maybe promises too much. Or you could call us.