IS IT EFFECTIVE TO BE EFFECTIVE AND THE ONE STATEMENT YOUR NONPROFIT SHOULD CONSIDER INTERNALLY
When you work with as many nonprofits as we do, you get to hear so many opinions on how organizations do things differently from each other. One topic that gets brought up a lot is in regard to virtual meetings with staff and board members.
At first we would hear from most that they LOVE having virtual meetings with people. It was so much more EFFECTIVE and you got the chance to just dive right into business without wasting time with useless chatter.
Then we started to notice a shift in conversation a year later, which we are sure you have heard before:
1) So and so does not seem engaged during the meetings
2) I miss seeing my people
We hear these comments so much that it makes us wonder if virtual meetings are truly "effective". Now we know what some of you are going to say:
1) They work for us . . . this is how we perfected it . . . blah blah blah
2) They are ok to do sometimes
3) It saves us time and money from driving in together to meet
Those points can be valid arguments. We are not here to debate how effective your virtual meetings are. It's your organization, thus you are the only one who can fairly score yourselves on how effective your virtual meetings are. By NO means are we suggesting that you should or should not have your staff and board meetings virtual. All we are suggesting is that you take the time to consider these thoughts:
- It does not matter how many times you go around a virtual room and ask everyone what their life updates are before starting the "meat" of your meeting. . . . nothing beats an in person hug or a handshake. Sorry, you can't argue that with us no matter how hard you may try. However the question is, how important is that for you and your people? It it is important and you notice that board and staff are missing that relational feel to your team, you might want to rethink your strategy. If this is not important to your group, then that's cool too ;-)
- Are people zoning out on your virtual meetings? Do they turn off their cameras often? When you ask questions do they stare at you blankly? If the answer is yes, then that is a problem. You want engaged board members and staff. It boggles our minds when people say to us that they are having a hard time engaging board members ever since they went virtual BUT it's easier on them, so they keep in virtual (Health issues for some withstanding of course).
You would be shocked to know how often we hear that. Just think about that statement for moment . . . our board is LESS engaged since we went virtual BUT it's easier for them to have it virtual. When you say it slowly in you head, it sounds crazy. You are willing to have a LESS effective board (or staff) meeting, thus EFFECTING your organization in the wrong direction, in an effort to make it easier on other people? Chances are your people love your organization more than you are giving them credit for and they would probably be more willing to meet back in person if you ask than you may think, even if they would RATHER keep it virtual (National nonprofits have a different reach of course).
If you have said this to yourself then you might need to rethink things. If this is not an issue with your organization, then no worries.
- Finally . . . regardless of how you feel about virtual meetings, no matter what, they ARE ok to do sometimes. They are more friendly than a phone call, they are great if you need to set something up quick, they are awesome if someone is out of town. We would be silly to suggest that there is not a place for virtual meetings. For those who perfected the model, then all the better. The bigger question might be, is your entire organization on the same page for when knowing when and how often to do virtual meetings.
Again, we are not judging how effective YOUR virtual meetings might be. If you believe that your meetings are effective then just ignore this entire post ;-)
HOWEVER, if the definition of "effective" to you means: 1) We just get down to business/Time management OR 2) it makes life easier for other people . . . all at the risk of your team missing the synergy of being around each other or being less engaged, then you might need to redefine what "effective" means to your organization.
Midwest Studies Group connects nonprofits to their communities, by providing feasibility studies, annual giving studies, RD planning, strategic planning, and capital campaign support. Learn more at www.midweststudiesgroup.com.