Looking for advice on how to best go about proposing positive organizational/cultural change at a newly joined nonprofit that’s growing fast. Book recs welcomed!

Hey all. I was offered a gig at a nonprofit I've been volunteering with for years. So obviously it's an organization that I like, and the people are great (some of the nicest I've met). I knew from the beginning that the position was sort of fluid, and there'd be growing pains as it's the first time they're ever hiring full-time positions, so I'm understanding of the challenges. At the same time I need to sort of start getting some expectations under control and promoting what I see as positive org/cultural changes for the org & those we serve.

For example yesterday was Juneteenth (observed) and everyone was working and I was the only one to say "hey wait a sec, if we're observing this holiday why are we working and having meetings…" Luckily when I brought that up it was met with an "oh yeah, that's a good point" and an option for people to reschedule meetings (IMO it should've been a mandatory cancellation, but baby steps).

The root seems to be that the organization has historically been run by well-meaning volunteers who are very close to the ED & cause, but these people have been putting in 70, 80, 90 hour weeks for the last 5-6 years or so. Part of my job, as I understand it, is to help with operations and the hiring of these new positions, and so we need to make it an attractive work culture. I'm just a little stressed about being the new guy coming in and advocating for less work – you all know the deal, being seen in the nonprofit world as the one who doesn't care, won't go above and beyond, doesn't want to work b/c you advocate for a 5pm cutoff time or only 40 hours.

Ok so here's an example. In the job description, it says that there are programs that operate on weekends and evenings, so "some" flexibility in scheduling is required. That's totally fine. However yesterday I had a meeting scheduled at 4:30 – 6 and at that meeting it was decided that there would be weekly, regularly scheduled meetings for this group on Mondays at 6pm to 7pm. Nobody blinked. Never in a million years would this have happened at any of my other nonprofits gigs. Maybe I'm overreacting, but I think that regularly scheduled work group meetings for 6pm on a Monday is a bit over the top. And again, going to be hard to recruit talent with schedules like that.

It really stems from the ED who is a great lady but probably works something like 100+ hours in a week. She knows she works too much (we've talked about it one on one), and doesn't want that for employees (says only can work 40 hours in job description) but I also get the impression it's kind of like, people are working more than that. Examples/standards get set from the top.

Anyway, would love to hear some advice for how to go about having constructive conversations about things like this. I'm used to working for more "polished" nonprofits I guess you'd say, where policies etc. are already in place and you kind of knew from day 1 what to expect. I also feel slightly stupid to be honest, because I had some conversations with the director before taking the job, and was worried about things like this, but took the job anyway. Luckily it's something I care about and would like to help make better for everyone involved, and luckily she's very open to hearing my thoughts and ideas.

The rest of the org are some of the nicest people as well, I really enjoy being around them. But someone, in my opinion, has to keep them from working themselves to death for the good of the org. And there are several other positions to hire for this summer, and if you were to tell those people that there'd be regularly scheduled meetings on Monday evenings, or that the ED will be texting you at 9pm on weeknights or on weekends regarding work, it's gonna be a hard sell.

Thanks for any advice – I'm sure there are some good books on this as well, any recommendations? Cheers.

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