Conflict – Does it Happen in Non-Profits?

conflictDoes Conflict Happen in Non-Profits?

It does just as in any other business.  But . . . it’s supposed to be a group of people doing good in the community – shouldn’t they all get along?

People are people – no matter what they’re doing for whom or what.

Expect Conflict

Everyone thinks they’re right.  Everyone is right to some extent.  But how can you combine all the “rights” into something that everyone can agree upon?

Respect and communication.  If people respect one another, they are halfway to compromising and collaborating.  Everyone must be willing to give a little and take a little – everyone – not just the bullies imposing their will on others.

Have a Formula

Create a formula to deal with all kinds of conflicts BEFORE they happen. One of the easiest ways to come to an agreement is by forging three possible solutions as a group and voting on them anonymously – not a show of hands.  Anonymous voting takes the pressure away to “please someone else” and gives everyone the opportunity to vote according to what they think is the best solution, not what someone else insists upon.

The two keys here:

  1. Forge solutions together – take ideas from everyone and blend the ideas.  If the board members try to vote on one or the other persons’ ideas, conflict will definitely start brewing.  Bullies are everywhere – and they will impose their will one way or another.  Don’t let that happen.
  2. Vote anonymously – have 3 solutions, forged by the board together, and vote anonymously.  Set up a simple system. The system can be as simple as a box and everyone makes a X (not in favor) or Check mark (in favor) on small pieces of paper and each person places their choice in the box for each solution, one at a time.  The box is opened in front of everyone – majority wins.  For example, if you have 3 Xs and 7 checks for solution one, then 1 X and 9 checks for solution two and finally, 2 Xs and 8 checks for solution three, then solution two is what the board works on.

The board members should always focus on why they are on the Board – to help someone or something – not to sit in endless meetings spinning their wheels or wallowing in conflict.  If some people can’t accept the group’s decisions, then they must find another board to serve on.

The more pleasant and satisfying the board work can be, the easier it will be to attract great new board members.

Lorraine Arams
On Contract Only



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