We All Need a Confidant at Work
Recently, I was driving to dinner with a client when she remarked, "You know, Jeff, I wouldn't be able to survive without Mary helping me with my caseload. She knows my donors, she knows me and, without her, I wouldn't be as effective. I really value her knowledge and her help."
I thought to myself, "how refreshing to hear this." Here is a successful manager of a whole host of major gifts officers (MGOs) with her own caseload to boot, and here she is telling me that without Mary she could not be effective. Mary happens to work in donor relations and helps this particular nonprofit's MGOs with stewarding their donors, giving them ideas to create a better relationship with the MGOs' donors.
Yes, I realize having someone in Mary's position would be an absolute luxury for you. But, as I talked with my client more, what I was really hearing was how important it was to have someone help her in her work, who really knows and understands her work style and how beneficial it is to have someone to bounce ideas off of.
What has happened here is that these two have bonded and formed a great working relationship, which has greatly benefited the other.
I find this rare in our industry. Quite frankly, major gifts officers often tend to be solo players. Some of that is just the way the job is configured, with a dose of competition built in.
While it is rare, Richard and I have found some of the best MGOs and managers are ones who collaborate, who go out of their way to seek counsel and have real confidants at work.
I remember years ago reading in a management book about traits of effective people in their work. One of the questions asked, which I thought was odd at first, was, "Do you have a best friend at work?" What the authors were getting at is do you have someone at work with whom you can share who you really are? It was found that people who do have a "best friend" or confidant at work tend to be more successful and happier than those who don't.
So, ask yourself that question. Do you have someone who knows you? Do you have someone you can be vulnerable with? Do you have someone who can help you figure out a problem at work, can strategize with you, who "gets" who you are?
Now, one caution here. I'm not talking about having someone that you gossip with or conspire with against another. That is not healthy for either of you. Nor does it do any good for the organization or the leadership of that organization.
No, what I'm talking about is someone who makes you better. Just like my client who acknowledged that without Mary's help, she would not be as good in her work.
If you are a manager or someone who has influence in guiding the culture of your workplace, you have the ability to nurture an environment that fosters these types of relationships.
Look, there is a lot of pressure on you to perform. It's very competitive out there. Extend your hands, bring someone in and allow yourself to share that pressure with someone else, where both of you ultimately benefit.
You'll be much happier in your work.
If you like baseball, tennis, golf, Gregorian chant, jazz, rock, good wine and deep conversation, then you’ll like to hang out with Jeff.
If you are passionate about fundraising, Jeff will inspire you to be a true “broker of love” for your donors, helping you bring together a donor’s desire to change the world and the world’s greatest needs. Jeff believes that if nonprofits truly want to grow and obtain more net revenue for their mission, it will come through creating, building and successfully managing major-gift programs. The Connections blog will give you inspiration and practical advice to help you succeed. Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit fundraising experience and is senior partner of the Veritus Group.