Creating a Culture of Development
Develop: advance, establish, flourish, expand, grow, progress.
When you think about the development role, those might be the idealistic synonyms that come to mind. However, more often than not, we think about development as bringing in money, knocking on doors, sales tactics, and not as a holistic concept with a heart for flourishing.
By instilling a culture of development throughout your entire organization, rather than just an isolated role, it begins to shift perspective. Your customer service experience, the way your staff talks about their job to their friends, and inter-office communication are just a few pieces which shape your culture and its development potential.
To challenge your mindset or to evaluate where your organization is at, consider these questions: How equipped is your staff to talk about the initiatives you are working on?
By keeping all staff informed, you speak value to them, and you build a core base of advocates to promote your work. Suddenly, your reach is expanded beyond just a designated development officer. Even a casual conversation with an entry-level staff member has the opportunity to open doors with new donors. On a larger scale, your organization develops a reputation based off how your employees speak of it. Evaluate how you are educating all your staff and including them in conversations about your mission and the heart of who you are.
What about when mistakes happen?
While we all want to plan for the best, the reality is at some point, we all drop the ball. Mistakes happen. Emails get stuck in the drafts folder. A check gets lost. Are you prepared to serve your donors well even in your less than glorious moments? Having a culture that works hard for the victories, but also serves just as passionately in the messy and the mundane moments will take intentional leadership to coach and model these attitudes.
How do people describe your leaders?
Creating culture is not an overnight change, and it can even require painful shifts on occasion. To start reviewing where your organization is, consider how outsiders view and describe your leadership. Accessible? Authority? Servant? Caring? Leader, but without connection to their people? What your leaders live out at the top sets the standard for the organization, and it is also the most visible piece to those outside. These questions are just the start of the journey towards inspiring a development culture, so keep in mind that this truly is a process. It will take time, continued evaluation and course corrections. However, each authentic change is another piece to establish how you flourish, progress, grow, advance, and establish.
Looking for more practical details? Join our webinar on January 16 to learn how leadership can set a culture.