Thursday, 31 July 2014

Suggestion Box Week 1

I am so incredibly lucky to have two really great students working with me this summer. They are both hard workers, super productive and really nice and really funny girls. There is a lot of laughing in our office, they keep me entertained. 
Over the years, I have had a few great supervisors and a lot of not great supervisors. I am taking what I learned from all my supervisors- the good and the bad- and applying it to my own role as supervisor. I want the students to have a great experience and enjoy their time working for our organization. I also want them to feel valued, appreciated and heard. The students are aware of this.

Last week, they, jokingly, asked if they could have a suggestion box when they could anonymously leave suggestion on how I can do my job better. Of course, I agreed and told them that we will read the suggestions at our weekly team meeting. 
Here are this weeks suggestions:
Drip. Drip. Drip. How's the water shut off? The day of our meeting, the City turned our water off due to construction. 
More espresso beans. Someone gave me chocolate covered espresso beans as a thank you gift and I left them for the students.
Don't crush dreams. This is actually something that was said jokingly and with laughter. And I'm the one who wrote it down and put it in the suggestion box.  

Keep a list of funny things that are said in the office.  The students say hilarious things on an hourly basis (ex Student 1 to Student 2: I feel like we're complete opposites. Everything I like, you don't. Everything you like, I've never heard of). Plus, after the summer I can read the list and remember how funny they were. 

Bowling party. No idea why this was suggested, but we are now going bowling after work in August. 

Co-worker should be the supervisor because she brings cupcakes and folds brochures. A co-worker brought in the most amazing cupcakes for the office one day. I only bring Timbits and store bought cookies. Plus she helped them fold brochures while I was in a meeting.

Love the way we have to fold the suggestions to submit. Suggestions are written on the back of a post it note and folded so the sticky part attached to the other end. With everyone submitting suggestions the same way, it helps them stay anonymous.

Paper beside the suggestion box to help with anonymity. Everyone was writing on different kinds of paper, which would help me figure out who suggested what. If we use the same paper, it helps conceal the identity of the suggestion maker. I put a pad of yellow post it notes beside the suggestion box to address this.

Espresso beans. Yup, suggest twice. They REALLY want more espresso beans.

More opportunities for "gold stars". I give out stickers to people who earn them...from doing a good job with a task to surviving a rough morning. There are no set 'rules' for earning stickers but they would like more stickers.

Respond efficiently and effectively in a timely manner. I often have over 100 unread emails- it's a combination of reading select emails from the day before and people just emailing me a lot. It does take me a couple of days to respond to stuff. I'm sure this was a semi-serious suggestion, but the students are in my office and usually say "I'm emailing you a draft of a poster, can you look at it and let me know what you think?" so I look at it and give them verbal feedback. It's not like I'm ignoring them.

Co-workers in our office, but not on our team, were surprised (as was I) that no one suggested I clean my desk/workspace, which is a disaster. Both students love to organize and have been counting down the days until I was on vacation so that they can organize my desk, workspace (the floor around my desk), my filing cabinets and my business cards.

The suggestion box was a really fun activity and a great way to start our meeting.I can't wait to see what suggestions they have next week!!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Wind You Up And Take You Downtown

Even though today is Wednesday, this is really my Friday- last day of work before being off for a few days. While I'm looking forward to having sometime off- work has been nothing but hectic recently- I have so much I need to do before I leave for almost a week. I have the feeling that a lot of it won't get done. Usually, I would work late to make sure it gets done, but I am having dinner with friends tonight!! I'm really looking forward to it; I haven't seen most of these girls in about a year. Plus, it's the perfect way to kick off my vacation.

Another perfect way to kick off a vacation? A little Luke Bryan!!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Hey, It's Ok!

Airing My Dirty Laundry

To be disappointed that I won't be able to see a friend, and one of my favourite people, tonight. 

That I have not been as consistent with blogging as I have been in the past. Summer will do that to you.

To be missing the Prince of Wales Stakes tonight. The Prince of Wales is the second "jewel" in the Canadian triple crown for horse racing. This year they moved it from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday night.

That I have mixed feelings about my upcoming vacation. Happy to have the time off, but my family-that I love dearly- will be around for most it, which means it will not be relaxing.

To be spending a lot of with friends recently. Last week I went out twice for dinner and once for lunch breakfast and coffee. This week, so far, I have dinner on Wednesday with friends and seeing two friends individually on Friday.

Friday, 25 July 2014

So, You Want To Work For A Non-Profit...Part Deux

I have worked for a non-profit (NPO) for about 5 years and get asked all the time what it's like. I'm happy to share my experience and try and give a balanced answer- sharing both the pros and cons- but also pointing out that everyone's experience is different and that not all NPO's are run the same.
Thanks to contract work, I've had the opportunity to work for 3 different NPO's. There were the aspects of the job I loved and aspects of the job I didn't love so much- or at all.
Last week I shared 6 things about working for an NPO that I had never told anyone. So, this week, I thought I'd share 6 of my favourite things about working for an NPO.
1. Work doesn't always seem like work. In the past month, "work" has included going to the park, museum and butterfly conservatory (scouting event site locations); shopping (thank you gifts for speakers, event guests and auction items); going out for lunch with people (building relationships) and reading magazines (creating a prospect list of people we can ask to donate auction items to our event). On of my favourite work experiences was when I worked on a commercial.
2. You get invited to a lot of places. Some of the invites make sense, like when I was invited to LeaderCast, and some are 'really? that counts as work?' invites I get invited to Strawberry Socials, spa grand openings, concerts, theatre performances (including opening nights), horse races, casino bus trips and tv stations. I don't go to everything I'm invited too, but I do get a lot of fun invites.
3. Event leftovers. This is probably one of the best parts of my job. Whenever I have an event for work, the caterer sends me home with the leftover food. I can usually get three or four meals out of the leftovers and the food is usually pretty good.
4. Free stuff. It's mostly pens, notebooks and post it notes. But, I've also gotten energy drinks, magazines, mugs, DVDs, gloves, food vouchers, hand sanitizer, Bailey's, books, chocolate...a variety of stuff. People give me stuff as a thank you for working with them or free samples so I can see what they offer and use their company in the future.
5. Summer Students. People have mixed ideas on summer students. I personally like them. It's kind of fun (and stressful) finding the right fit for our organization. If you hire the right student, it can be a really great experience. They bring different skills and ideas to the table, assisting with different aspects of the job. I try to make the experience a fun, memorable and educational opportunity for the students I work with. I like to provide them with cupcakes, road trips to site venues, stickers and a suggestion box where they can provide feedback on how I can do my job better- like to provide more flavours of cupcakes. There are lots of laughs while being productive.
6. Feedback. This is hands down the most rewarding and best part of my job. I am in charge of fundraising, which means I am responsible for bringing money so we can offer our programs and services to our clients (no pressure there). When I hear clients say how much they gain from our services, how they don't feel so alone, how they don't know what they would have done without us, how we have made the process easier on them...this makes everything that I do and have to put up with, worth it. I know the work I am doing, all of my sacrifices, headaches, frustrations and even the fun stuff as listed above, is making a difference in someone's life.
Like everything NPO's offer good and bad. Every experience is different. Within the same organization I have had the best experience of my life and the worst experience of my life. It is all about who you interact with and work with. It also has to do with your personality and how invest you are in your organization. I'm ok with being underpaid because the feedback from our clients more than makes up for it.
I repeatedly say that you have to really love what you do to work for an NPO, and I stand by that statement. Like all jobs, there are a number of pros and cons, and the industry isn't for everyone.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to my magazine reading at the park...kidding. We went to the park on Wednesday.