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DAVID B. ZENOFF'S BLOG

Business Consultant’s Biggest Challenge Was Not in the Boardroom

The Whitefish Bay Patch profiles David B. Zenoff’s extraordinary transformation from the son of a single, working mom to becoming the head of a management consultant company working with 90-plus companies in 31 countries…

Read all about it!

whitefishbaypatch

Note:this article contains an error.David was not a single dad. He was raised by a single,working mom.

What For-Profit Business Managers Can Learn From Not-for-Profit Organizations

In thousands of not-for-profit organizations across the country, hundreds of thousands of Americans work millions of hours for FREE as volunteers. And, hundreds of thousands of highly capable individuals work for not-for-profit organizations as professional staff at less than handsome compensation levels when compared to the world of business. Contrast that with the thousands (perhaps millions) of businesses where studies show that only about 25 percent of their employees are truly ENGAGED in their work and with their employers. Low employee engagement is strongly associated with lower overall organization performance and success.

How can it be that businesses that tend to compensate their employees with more money than do not-for profit-organizations, often have such relatively low employee satisfaction and engagement? What can these business leaders and managers learn from the not-for-profits?

For most of us who have volunteered our time and wit and contributed our other resources to not-for-profits,we know that it is largely THE CAUSE of the not-for-profit organization that inspires us, as does
those organizations’ DEDICATION TO SERVING their causes. Our “compensation” as volunteers and modestly paid professional staff is largely psychic satisfaction, where both our hearts and our heads are
deeply touched.

Organizations which are associated with CAUSES that are about people or circumstances that are EXTERNAL to the organization (e.g., homeless youth; individuals who don’t know how to safely and effectively invest their life savings; rivers that are polluted) and organizations that DEDICATE THEMSELVES TO THESE CAUSES (house the homeless; provide high integrity and high quality investment counsel and services; clean the rivers) are the first two elements in what I call “organization’s souls”.

The “souls” I have found in some not-for-profits and businesses are core ideals and philosophies in these organizations, that energize and propel successive waves of employees to high levels of achievement  and engagement and lead to successful trajectories for those organizations, over long periods of time.

In The Soul of the Organization (APress, 2012 and available through Amazon.com), I examine the elements of “soul” in five not-for-profit organizations (Stanford and Notre Dame Universities, Sisters of Mercy, Larkin Street Youth Services, and San Francisco International Airport) and six businesses (Williams-Sonoma Inc., Barclays Global Investors, Wells Fargo Bank, Merrill Lynch Private Client Group, Dodge & Cox, and Levi Strauss & Company). The stories of each of these organizations demonstrate how their strong “souls” and core values and “reasons for being” have contributed to long-time success and continuing strong employee engagement.

What organizations do you know of with “souls”? Join the conversation on Facebook.

Keeping Organizations Healthy

Organizations of any kind, like humans, are “alive” and  dynamic and therefore require nourishment and occasional visits to doctors to thrive. “Nourishment” for an organization can include:

  • A clear sense of what is important (ie.,what it is seeking to achieve and why), how it is going after its goals (normally termed “strategy”), what it has to work with to be successful (its know-how, resources, reputation, and momentum), acceptable “rules of engagement” for employees vis a vis their colleagues, their work, and the organization’s customers.
  • Deliberate caring toward the employees that is oriented to what’s important to them (including: meaningful work, respect from bosses and other employees, reasonable discretion to do their jobs, recognition for achievement and effort, fair compensation, awareness of what is going on in the organization as it seeks to achieve its goals, the means to communicate their ideas and responses to organizational life, fair compensation, and prospects for further advancement).

“Doctor Visits” by an organization can include assessments of how the organization is functioning and how the employees are faring(learned from various organizational assessment studies and surveys); as well as occasional “renewals” of the organization’s spirit, structure, behavior norms, priorities, processes and procedures—that involve employees at all levels in discussions about those topics and what could be better.

Of course, the elements of “nourishment” and “doctor visits” need to be done within the constraints of economic reality.

In both nourishment and doctor visits,  it is vital that employees’ heads and hearts are appealed to. In that spirit, the chances to strengthen employee engagement and build overall organization performance will be greatly enhanced.

To learn more about improving any organization’s health, read my new book The Soul of the Organization which provides a framework and many illustrations on this topic.

 

Whitefish Bay Alum Zenoff Interviewed About “Soul of the Organization”

Read all about it! I’m an alumnus of Whitefish Bay High School and they recently interviewed me about my new book. Check it out…

Whitefish Bay High School Milwaukee Wisconsin

 

Listen In: Zara Larsen Interviews David Zenoff about “The Soul of the Organization”

Join Dr. Zara Larsen and David Zenoff as they discuss his new book in a December 22nd interview on her FM talk radio show “Circles of Change: Conversations on Change Leadership and Career Fulfillment”:

Listen Now

 

About Dr. Zara Larsen

Dr. Zara Larsen

Dr. Zara F. Larsen is President of The Larsen Group: Architects of Change, a private consulting firm dedicated to helping others unleash potential through transformational change.  She is committed to repositioning organizations for breakthrough performance via individuals playing to their natural giftedness and motivated abilities. Zara’s passion lies in upending the status quo for sustainable system change, not just capturing point opportunities or resolving point issues – doing so with speed and process discipline. Involved in a diverse set of client projects ranging from strategic talent acquisition campaigns to merger integrations, Zara also serves as an executive and career transition coach leveraging SIMA technology, the System for Identifying Motivated Abilities.  She is the host of Tucson’s live FM talk radio show “Circles of Change: Conversations on Change Leadership and Career Fulfillment”, which is simultaneously web streamed at www.1041thetruth.com every Saturday 9-11:00 a.m. PST (12:00-2:00 est)