Monday, June 18, 2007

This Past Week A Group of Grant Writers Networked Among Themselves, Saved Each Other Some Grief, AND Received An Apology!

I belong to a non profit professonals' list serve. This week I watched an interesting discussion thread. Even this very morning, as I write, there is still traffic being generated from one post, posted last week.

In the post that started the discussion, an international and well known non profit agency advertised a grant writers position that they are hiring for at a local office.

The job offer email provided all of the usual information: who and where the non profit agency is located, what scope of work that the position is responsible for, the mission statement of the organization, what their employment policy is, when the deadline for submitting resumes and writing samples is, how to submit your application, and what the hiring process will be.

Mostly, people are posting questions relevant to the non profit world, posting events, posting networking opportunities, posting job offers, and the like on this group list serve.

But, after this particular large and well known organization posted their grant writer position, a local professional grant writer shared with the list serve that she had applied for and interviewed for the same job a few years ago and had a poor experience. She wanted the local community to know that she was qualified for the position, yet treated unprofessionally, and was never even notified as to whether she received the job or not. What a colleague! She gave us all the 'heads up'.

What really intrigued me was that many other professional grant writers in the region responded to her, continuing the discussion thread. They mostly thought that it was very brave of her to be forthright with the local professional grant writing community; to be willing to share her bad experience. Many professionals felt informed on a level that only inter-colleague networking can provide. Actually, the grant writer who shared her negative experience wasn't risking anything, as she was not unprofessional or slanderous in her post. She was likely never going to work for this organization, now, and probably has all of the work she needs. Why not share what happened with others, so that they can at least know what happened to another grant writer seeking the same job?

Perhaps the best thing about the whole thread was that a staff member of the organization in question's local office responded. Here's what she wrote,

"With your permission, I've passed your feedback on to the director of our department. She shares your belief that our predecessors' handling of the hiring process three years ago was regrettably unprofessional and discourteous to you, and offers you her apologies. I will also be speaking with our current human resources department to make sure that things are running more smoothly in responding to applicants. We hope to interest in the position, and being welcoming and thorough is essential in that process!"

This staff member, unlike the previous manager, was responsive, grateful, wanting to right the situation, and this person's negative experience was noted to avoid it happening again. This is how you handle, respond, and mitigate negative public relations. And, this is how they will hire, and continue to hire, great candidates in the future. This staffer's staved off good applicants' fears about applying.

To quote a June 17th response to this thread:
"Organizations of all stripes – radical, conservative, faith-based, large, small – behave sometimes in ways that are not aligned with their stated values and mission. So why do we hold back from dealing with these challenges? Perhaps it’s because the risks of making change don’t seem worth it, personally, organizationally, and for the sake of the community. Perhaps we will talk ourselves into being satisfied with less. I am a part of the sector to make the community fundamentally more humane and caring. But making deep and lasting change seems a whole lot more complicated than waiving a slogan or being righteously indignant. I have to be willing to make relationships with people who don’t think like me and I have to willing to risk not knowing what to do. "

I agree. Well said.

The author of this response suggests, "...a great book about adaptive leadership – it’s called “Leadership on the Line,” by Ron Heifetz and Martin Linsky. Heifetz and Linsky elaborate about the pragmatic and tactical considerations of helping their organizations and the people in them come to terms with changes in behavior, belief and values. They talk with great candor about the very real dangers of working in alignment with your values and life purpose, while not being made road kill by the intrinsic conservative forces of organizations. I recommend it to everyone."

Grant writers, and everyone who values the excellent work that they do for our communities, as I've said before here, do well to share information in and among themselves. Grant writers networking amongst themselves changed a bad local situation, in this case.

[Read my post explaining why grant writers should network at: ]

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