In the Office: Building Your Dream Team
Do you yearn to work in a development office where professional staff members are considered among the best in their field; where the entire staff works as a team to exceed program goals year after year; where no silos exist and everyone gets along famously; and where it’s rewarding and fun to go to work every day?
Of course you do. Who doesn’t? To make this ideal scenario a reality, you have to start with the team you already have in place.
A team is defined as a group of people working together toward a common goal where members share responsibility for the successful outcomes of the whole program, not just their individual contributions. If you’ve been successful in building a dream team in your development shop, you no doubt have a higher-performing fundraising program than those who are still dreaming of building such a team.
Development dream teams are formed by dynamic leaders who use a participatory form of management where interdependence is evident among empowered staff members who work in harmony as a single unit. The staff is aligned with a common purpose about the mission, vision and goals of the nonprofit organization and its philanthropy program. They embrace the core values of the team and equally share responsibility for the important function the development office plays within the organization.
There is a climate of trust where challenges and conflicts are considered healthy, and staff offer creative solutions to problems big and small, while recognizing and respecting differences in each other. The team is future focused, seeing change as an opportunity for growth, and members are focused more on results than on tasks. They ask questions and get clarification when needed in order to effectively carry out their individual commitments. They make the best use of the creative talents of other members of the team. They have fun in their work; they are flexible; they respect and value the partnership created by the team; and they’re always striving for “win-win” outcomes. Does this sound too good to be true?
Considering the following questions can help you assess your development team’s strengths and weaknesses, and get you started on your way to forming your own dream team.
1. Is there a collective sense of why the team exists, and is everyone fully invested in accomplishing the mission and goals?
2. Does the staff fully embrace the fundraising strategy and plan, with each team member knowing what needs to be done next, by whom and by when?
3. Is each team member independently able to perform his or her role while appropriately reaching out for advice from more experienced members when needed?
4. Are the lines of authority and decision-making clearly understood?
5. Is conflict dealt with openly and considered important to decision-making and personal growth?
6. Do team members feel their unique personalities are appreciated and well utilized?
7. Are group norms for working together set and seen as standards for everyone in the group?
8. Do staff members find team meetings efficient and productive, and look forward to this time together?
9. Do staff members know when the team has achieved successes, and do they share equally in the victories?
10. Are there sufficient opportunities for feedback and advancement of skills, and are they taken advantage of by team members?
Dream teams are results oriented, always looking to improve the team’s potential. Building a dream team is a continuous process that’s focused on clear and consistent goals. The way of life in the development office reflects concern for each team member’s needs and ambitions, and recognizes the unique contribution each individual can make.
Betty Ann Copley Harris is president of Copley Harris Co. and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.