I’ve been thinking about how one’s perspective heavily influences his or her opinions, decisions, and actions. Just ask a Chicago Cubs fan about the White Sox, or a Yankee fan about the Red Sox. Now baseball may not be a matter of life and death (OK, I stand corrected), but incomplete, incorrect, or out-dated perspectives can be a big problem when your job as a nonprofit leader is to insure your organization is addressing the key needs of your clients.
How certain are you today that your organization is effectively helping your clients with what they need the most…today? Are you certain your organization is addressing the needs of your current clients, or are you working with long-standing assumptions of their needs? Is it possible your organization has become “locked in” on to what you think they need, what your team feels would be best for them? Does your old perspective get in the way of positively impacting your clients right now?
When was the last time you double-checked your perspective on these important questions?
- What do you do to insure you are staying close to your clients and that your offerings are exactly what they need?
- When was the last time you conducted an analysis of your clients’ situation, how it had changed over time, and what new ways you could help them?
- What is the best way to find out?
- What makes your client tick
- What is getting in their way of succeeding
- How well your firm is serving them
- What other services would help them
- What inhibits them the most when dealing with your organization
The best way to insulate your organization from this problem is to challenge your assumptions periodically and look at things from your client’s perspective.
There are several simple (and brutally honest) ways to find out if you are effectively helping clients and they cost little or nothing to try. Here are a few we used effectively:
- Ask them. Leaders should build in opportunities for short, personal visits with clients to ask them these questions. You will learn a lot.
- Ask those in direct contact with your clients. Employees and volunteers who speak with your clients are apt to know a lot about them. It is their job, isn’t it?
- Ask your business and community partners who also serve these clients. In my prior life, insuring design professionals, that meant visiting with defense attorneys and our agents. I learned a lot that way…not all of it pretty, but all of it helpful.