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Staff Orientation is a Marathon, Not a Sprint


Winning Employee Orientation Focuses On Networking


In last week’s blog, I discussed the positive financial impact of providing the right kind of orientation and how “staff individuality” is now factoring into the equation. A brief orientation centered on learning the job needs to be replaced by an extended schedule for orientation heavily weighted on building relationships. So, how should you spend the time you have? Focus on:

  1. Quickly building a network of support for the new hire which raises commitment to the organization.
  2. Providing training required for the job which pays off by increases the employee’s confidence and job satisfaction
  3. Developing a personal relationship between the supervisor and new hire which encourages trust, support and understanding.

Supervisors should establish ways to help their staff develop a support system quickly. Of course it includes the team the staff will be working for, and other people, internally and externally, who can help staff succeed at their job. A handshake in the hall along with a two minute “elevator speech” isn’t what I’m talking about. Staff should quickly feel they belong, are needed and wanted, and a valuable addition to the team.

Adequate training is critical for building staff confidence and commitment. I have talked to numerous staff through my training sessions who have experienced being “thrown to the wolves” to “sink or swim.” Their language not mine. It is unrealistic to expect new hires to work independently after so little time. Instead of setting employees up for success, organizations are setting them up to fail and/or be caught doing wrong. With choice of employers, new hires who don’t feel they are being sufficiently trained and supported, leave quickly. Also, consider the risk of putting someone into a job that he isn’t skilled to do. The consequences lies with the organization and it is only be a matter of time before something tragic happens.

Finally, orientation is meant for initiating a personal relationship between the new hire and supervisor. Today, supervisors must take a personal interest in who their staff are, what their goals are (personally and professionally) and what can be done to support them to get what they want. During my career, this is one of the most significant changes that has occurred. Not so long ago, I was directing staff to “keep home at home, and work at work” and I wouldn’t consider investing time and money on staff who I knew weren’t in it for the long haul. Now, if you intend to improve your chances of keeping staff longer than six months, you most definitely need to to take a real interest in their personal and professional development.

Please join me for my FREE webinar on April 5th at 12:00 – 1:00 PM MST Called “Staff Orientation is a Marathon, Not a Sprint”


Staff Retention Starts On Day One Of Employment


Did you know staff orientation makes a significant difference in an employee’s length of service? Having been a nonprofit CEO, I am very aware of the financial impact and resulting constraints put on staff orientation. Unless there are outside resources to offset the cost AND a commitment to upfront time spent with new hires, each staff gets something like eight hours. Until practices change that lengthens both the amount of time spent and the period it takes, the vicious cycle illustrated below will continue.

ncgincA mixture of research demonstrates the impact of turnover within the first year of employment. For example, a 2013 study done on Employee Turnover by Equifax found that 40% of staff left their job voluntarily within the first six months of employment and a further 16% within the first 12 months. That means a possible 56% are leaving within the first year of employment. The Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey which was completed in 2015 by Nonprofit HR LLC. concludes that voluntary turnover continues to increase (16% in 2013 to 19% in 2014) and that direct service workers are the hardest to retain at 38%. So, unless we invest in staff from the beginning we are at risk of having to rehire within the year and our largest staff base (direct service) are the most difficult to keep and at the same time, to find.

Secondly, if we are going to impact retention through staff orientation, agencies must “get with the program” and adjust their focus to what the new staff needs. For example, a focus on staff individuality. In a 2013 article written by Forbes titled First Minutes Are Critical in New-Employee Orientation, a study was presented that measured the importance of encouraging individual identity during orientation (e.g. a welcoming speech on how the company allows for the expression of individuality, giving organizational sweatshirts with the person’s name embossed on it, a name badge, etc.) compared to focusing on why this company is the best place to work. Seven months later the researchers looked into whether the orientation changes affected how long the newcomers chose to stay with the agency.
Turnover in the control group (current agency practices) was 47.2% higher than that of the individual identity group. Additionally, the individual identity group cumulated higher customer service ratings.

Stay tuned next week for more on Staff Orientation

Please join me for my FREE webinar on April 5th at 12:00 – 1:00 PM MST Called “Staff Orientation is a Marathon, Not a Sprint”



When my husband asks “What did you accomplish in your meeting today?” What should I say?


How can you develop a behavior of taking more action? When I was an executive director, I would come home from a long day at work, and my husband would often ask what did I do that day? I would say I was in meetings most of the day, followed by, what did you accomplish at your meetings? I rarely had a good answer for him which soon had me dreading the questions.

My meetings were often lots of talks and no action. Does this sound familiar? We falsely assume (again and again) that after decisions get made, goals set, and solutions identified, someone would pick up the ball and run with it. Wrong!

Action must follow!

Spend time developing an action plan that includes: Who? Does What? When? Identify the person responsible, the tasks to be done, and the date it must be finished. Action plans provide clear communication to all team members as well as accountability for getting their activities done.

There are lots of online tools to help you to get to the right solutions, such as Mind Tools ( where problem-solving is a category, time management, and decision-making are just a few of the several options to help you take action. Communication is critical at this point for ensuring the project stays on track or requires adjustment or a change in direction. Last, and of equal importance for quality improvement is an evaluation. Evaluate the outcome of the implementation, and the process you undertook.

Identify what went well and what areas you could’ve changed or done differently. Make sure to take notes, especially if you anticipate repeating the activities at a future time. To get things done, you need to take action. Things seldom happen on their own. The only person that can get it done is yourself.
You should now have a clear overview of the 10 Steps of Problem-Solving from my last two blogs. To get the guide in its entirety, plus more great insights for success, plan to attend my webinar “If Crying Doesn’t Help Solve Problems, What Does?” Wednesday, March 1st at 12-1 PM MST.


Teams Need Problem-Solvers, Not Just Problem-Finders


Last week I shared that spending time clearly defining a problem before brainstorming solutions is necessary.  


The problem could be more complicated than you think or it can be a symptom instead of the underlying concern.

Once you’ve invested this time upfront,  the next steps can happen quickly.  It starts with brainstorming solutions.  You know brainstorming;  the tool that gets people thinking quickly from the creative part of their brain.  However, honoring the rules of brainstorming; no right or wrong answers, anything goes, quantity over quality and NO evaluating is essential for getting to the best solutions.   I suggest you, or someone from your team act as the facilitator of this process.  Stand up, snag a flipchart or whiteboard – something everyone can see instead of a piece of paper.  Grab a pen, write the problem at the top of the page and tell your team to “Go for it and throw out as main possible solutions as you can in 5 – 7 minutes.”   Then hold the staff accountable for NOT breaking the rules even if it means you interrupt and redirect them back to the task.  Then move on.   

The steps of problem-solving are evaluating and integrating ideas and making a decision on solutions.   Notice I said solutions with an “s.”   Your team needs to pick their top 2-3 results.  Why?  What if one doesn’t work out? What if two could be implemented at once to save time?  The best three answers are likely the best opportunities for success.  Keep these agreed upon solutions close . . . just in case.  

However,  there is more work to do.    Come back next week and discover the final three steps.

Click below to register for my FREE webinar on March 1st when I bring it all together through the 10 Step Guide to Problem-solving.  


Anyone who has ever had a problem should attend so tell your friends, co-workers, and bosses.  

Until we meet again, remember success is yours

Karin Naslund


Why Can’t I Get it Right the First Time?


Believe it or not, there is a process for successful problem-solving which I found useful in my years as a CEO of a non-profit organization and then a consultant to the nonprofit industry. I want to share it with you because it guarantees a better outcome. What would you rather have?

1. The one answer that everyone jumps at after 15 minutes of discussion that never works or,

2. A clear problem that generates at least three sound possibilities to implement. What’s the difference?

Here’s a hint by Thomas Edison, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about the solution.”

What did he mean?

Too often we jump to solutions – looking for the “magic bullet”– before we have defined the problem which results in weak solutions. The five important questions below will help you and your team to name the problem correctly.

1. How do we know a problem exists?

It seems to be a fundamental question, right? It creates the opportunity to identify what the problem looks like and who’s involved in it. It cuts through superficial communication and gets to the heart of the problem.

Karin’s Tip: At this time ask “Does everyone agree a problem exists?” The information provided in this answer brings clarity to circumstances surrounding the problem.

2. Do we have one problem or more than one problem?

We often try and simplify an issue that is quite complicated. In doing so, we can’t possibly begin to come up with solutions that are going to solve all of the individual components of the problem. It won’t happen through one discussion. Ask this question to add certainty to what you are addressing.

Karin’s Tip: Go back to lessons from early days in school and get comfortable asking the 5 W questions: What, When, Where, How and Why?.

3. Are we solving the problem or symptoms of the problem?

As a professional mediator and negotiator, I help people work through their issues which have turned into conflict. Underlying conflict is a problem that needs to be resolved. However, participants would rather talk about what they see or experience a change in their communication with one another (a symptom) because it is easier than having a tough conversation about what is driving the change.

Karin’s Tip: What you see isn’t always what you get. Don’t let other push forward before you know what you are addressing.

4. Who is impacted by the problem?

Who is directly affected by what is going on and how? Working in the world of non-profit means working with people who count on us (clients & families) and the stakeholders who support them. By defining who is involved, we can find solutions that will be accepted by all concerned.

Karin’s Tip: Consider all things surrounding the problem like; What is this problem costing us in time, reputation, damaged relationships, etc.

5. Now it’s time to define the problem!

When you have asked these question (and more), you are ready to state the problem in one – two sentences that have everybody understand and agreeing up its meaning. Now you can quickly and easily find the best solutions.

Karin’s Final Tip: Spend about 60% of the time you have to solve a problem on defining the problem by asking many, many questions. Think of yourself a private detective seeking information. BE CURIOUS.

Wondering what happens next? Join me next week to find out.

Check back to my website next Tuesday and sign up for my FREE webinar “If Crying Doesn’t Help Solve Problems, What Does? The 10 steps of successful problem-solving”.


Changing of the Guard in Nonprofit Leadership

Reciprocity between leaders

As we see a “changing of the guard” in nonprofit leadership, developing meaningful relationships with colleagues is important once again. Last week I worked with a regional group of executive directors that has a mix of long term and new leaders. Like the attached article indicates, new leaders are expecting support and exchange of information to be forthcoming without any investment of time and relationship. However, long-term leaders are looking for reciprocity – a give and take. They are reluctant to share what they worked years to get right with people they hardly know. Furthermore, they know important learning happens through the development of material, policy and procedure. Therefore, these long-term leaders would rather mentor new leaders through the process than hand over work already done.

Forbes article ( identifies five ways to identify when reciprocity is missing and you need to refocus if the relationship is to be sustained:

1. Don’t make excuses, just get it done.
Ongoing excuses for not doing the work will have a negative impact on the relationship. As Nike says Just Do It!

2. Who is responsible?
Have you ever been in a business relationship where there is excitement to begin with and then it wanes due to a loss of interest? I have. Through the course of my consulting career, I have worked with others on “projects” – basically an attempt to be collaborative and build on our individual strengths. In one instance we even purchased really nice portfolios and had a logo and theme for the training we would do. We pooled our resources and material and developed a five-day leadership training course. We did it exactly . . . once. The organization found it really great, so what happened? We each had our own business which took priority, so neither one of us assumed responsibility for “getting the program out there”. In the end, we parted ways. So, plan for the next step and who is responsible for getting it done.

3. Unequal resources and ability to contribute.
This exists when the organizations and/or individuals have different levels of capacity to contribute. For example, one organization is larger and has more resources or the leader is more skilled and competent in the job.

4. Collaboration requires give and take.
Organizations are expected to collaborate, but it’s much harder than you think. There must be a willingness to work for the benefit of both interests. This means letting go of your own agenda and how the work gets done to building a direction and process that is beneficial to everyone involved.

5. Appreciate your partners
It’s easy to lose site of the work being done by others especially when you’re busy. At these times, one side may feel like they are being taken for granted and begin distancing themselves from the relationship.

So remember it’s hard work building and maintaining relationships. Think carefully about your ability to give it what it needs to succeed because the alternative is not good.

The 10 Golden Rules of Effective Management

Reciprocity between leaders

The attached article provides a synopsis on great management practises. Not surprisingly, communication, consistency, recognition, and role modeling are important. I want to focus on Set the goal of working as a team.

I encourage frontline team leaders to have a “terms of reference” developed with their team that includes a purpose, goals, roles, expectations for communication (e.g. what happens when we disagree with one another?), reporting lines, and resources (e.g. budget, tools, education, etc.). Why? It provides teams with a shared direction and acceptable ways of working effectively together. A vision should be more than words on paper; it should inspire and motivate. Talk about the best possible outcome for clients because of the work you do. Then get it down on paper and review it as new people join. Make it a living document.

Power Pose

I show this video in Level 2 Great Supervision – Nurturing Collaborative Teams. We spend our first morning talking about communication and this video fits perfectly with being assertive. I also love that she suggests we share it with people who need it most!. Enjoy . . .
Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are | Amy Cuddy | TED Talks

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