Fundraiser, How Is Your Relationship With Your Supervisor?
In his article "What Are the Factors Affecting Job Satisfaction?" Brian Hill of Demand Media suggests that five factors are at play in your job satisfaction — one of those being your relationship with your supervisor. I for one believe that supervisors in a fundraising context have an impossible job.
They must create grand game plans, implement strategic plans, educate internal and external constituencies, and identify priority needs for philanthropy. Also, they need to motivate and direct staffs that are hopefully on the same page as their supervisors.
Daily sand shifting leads the supervisor into a variety of productive and unproductive fundraising and administrative tasks. Many individuals cannot balance their responsibilities and play to their perceived strengths. Supervising is complex and unpredictable. There is always tension between time spent asking for money and managing fundraising staff.
Fundraising professionals who seek to work effectively with a supervisor must understand the strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and personal management style of the supervisor. Subordinates need to think in terms of counterbalancing. This means you must evaluate yourself and seek to understand your abilities.
Constantly question how your strengths can play to your supervisor's weaknesses. Most importantly, you must focus your energies on developing a comprehensive fundraising program. There is no substitute for your total immersion in the fundraising process.
Through a consistent, high level of performance, you gain the confidence of your supervisor over time. Provide "best of class" models, and keep relationships professional, not personal. Help the supervisor stay financially focused while providing suggestions to keep the administrative machine running smoothly.
Seek and succeed in obtaining and performing additional responsibilities outside of your job description without complaining. Volunteer, and assume tasks you know the supervisor doesn't like to handle. Obtain the management philosophy of your supervisor, and strive to motivate him or her through your interpretation of this philosophy. You must respect your supervisor and have empathy for the stresses of his or her position.
The ultimate goal for you is to make your supervisor look good while seeking the praise and confidence of your boss's boss for your performance. If this is secured in a positive, nonthreatening way, the confidence in you by your superior will soar, and you will be on your way to becoming a supervisor, too!
The bottom line is you affect the long-term relationship with your supervisor by your actions and reactions. Make the relationship with your supervisor a positive one.
It is all about how you view the food chain!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, IN plus Adjunct Professor for Olivet Nazarene University. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.