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Finding the Right Fit: Are You Working at a Place Where You Can Thrive?

Not all grant professionals are alike. Not all work environments are alike either. To find the best fit, learn your own style and understand organizational models.

I had just moved to a new city with my husband. He had a job. I did not. So I was job-hunting. I had spent most of my career in higher education and taught a course on the nonprofit sector. I had overseen an alumni magazine and other publications. When a small nonprofit hired me as Director of Development and Public Relations, I was eager to take on this new one-person-development-shop role. I was passionate about the mission and enjoyed my work colleagues. What could be better?

I discovered that having the skills to succeed is not the same as having a good fit. I'm an introvert. They did most of their fundraising through special events, not grants. I'm a words person, but I spent hours struggling with numbers and spreadsheets to manually track all donations. I learned the hard way about organizational fit.

Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

How can you find your genius and develop it?

Step 1: Know your personality type.

Many tools can help you identify your personality type. Indeed, organizations often use these tools to build a diverse team and put the right people in the right places. But you don't have to wait for your employer to take the lead. In today's world you can check out many tools online. Among the most popular are Myers Briggs Type Inventory, Disc Behavioral Styles, Strength Finder, and Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument.

Step 2: Identify the organizational culture where you work.

In Organizational Culture and Leadership (Wiley, 2010), Edgar Schein says culture consists of “shared patterns of thought, belief, feelings and values that result from shared experience and common learning” (p. 73). The leadership's style shapes the organization's culture. To discern it, you might ask questions such as:

  • Is the emphasis on people, efficiency, innovation or competition? (http://topnonprofits,com/culture-politics)
  • What are the “rules of the game”? How are they communicated, especially to newcomers?
  • Does the culture support the mission and goals? Do people walk the talk?

Step 3. Understand your organization's structure.

Diane Chinn says the structure “defines an organization through its framework… [It is] driven by the organization's goals and serves as the context in which processes operate and business is done” ( Examples of structures include a traditional, top-down hierarchy or bureaucratic structure; a matrix, where employees have multiple bosses and reporting lines; or a flatarchy, which removes organizational layers to open up lines of communication and collaboration.

Step 4. Determine how you and your organization align.

Think about which organizational culture is the best fit for where you are in your career and in life. Should you adapt or move on? A people-oriented culture emphasizes mentoring, building teamwork and consensus, and ensuring both employees and customers are happy. To increase fit, weave stories of people into numbers-heavy reports and find ways to invest in your colleagues' growth. If the culture's emphasis is on innovation and risk-taking, let your creativity soar and include suggestions or solutions in your reports. If competition is the name of the game, break large goals into smaller ones and incorporate incentives for reaching them. If you can't make it work for you, consider making a change. Find your genius!

What are you doing to maximize the fit between you and your organization?

Robyn Gibboney, PhD, GPC, is Director of Grants at Cincinnati Museum Center, a multi-museum complex in the historic Cincinnati Union Terminal building. She previously spent more than 30 years in higher education, with roles ranging from faculty member to administrator to grant professional.

GPC Competencies: 02. Organizational Development; 07. Professionalism


By: Linda Hennes
On: 07/24/2019 17:16:24
Genius article! Thank you!

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