Bad News is Good News

I planned that my first newsletter for 2021 would start on a strong positive note. But the events of the last few weeks, capped by the US Capitol incursion, make it challenging to put a bright face on the new year picture.

But those who know me, and whom I’ve worked with over the years, know that I live by a core belief: Bad news is good news… if you do something about it. There will always be problems. Embracing bad news is an opportunity to address those problems before they spiral out of control.

Let’s make the decision now about how we’re going to turn the corner past the bad news of 2020, and renew ourselves and our organizations. Many of us missed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years with family and close friends in 2020. We don’t want to miss them again this year. Everyone wants 2021 to be a better year. You will find many allies who can share your goals for a successful and renewed new year.

It’s a fact of planning that the situation is rarely ideal. The key is to establish momentum.

Planning during a crisis means facing uncertainty. A great starting point for a new plan is the old plan. You probably didn’t reach all of your goals amid the pandemic disruption, with its impact on new and emerging services. But they’re a starting point, giving you a chance to look at what worked and what failed, and to revisit the issues that must be incorporated into your 2021 planning.

Try not to set your aim too high. Look for practical, actionable solutions. You don’t have all the answers: reach within your organization and ask everyone to contribute to the 2021 planning process. Listen to and engage with your key constituents and stakeholders to provide feedback.  Get them to engage in the search for answers, impact what you can, and move beyond lamenting the shortcomings that the world is facing.

As a leader you must be accountable to everyone who is part of the organization—your staff, board, donors and volunteers. Where there is accountability there is trust.

As I talked about last month, when managing during a crisis it’s important to validate your employee concerns by discussing the paradoxes we all face. See where they are on the Bridges Model—Endings, Exploration or New Beginnings. Let them see that you understand the tensions and stress that they face. By painting a path that acknowledges their stress but offers optimism and confidence, you can inspire employees to attack new realities with energy and enthusiasm.

Here’s my challenge for you in January, 2021:

  • What are the three toughest problems that your organization expects to face in the next 6 months?
  • Write them down.
  • Then decide and map out how you’re going to turn bad news into good news, to do something positive about every one of them!

Here’s to moving forward with renewed momentum in 2021,

Jim Morgan

P.S. Have you had a chance to read Applied Wisdom for the Nonprofit Sector yet? It takes less than an hour and can offer you, your colleagues and even family members, some useful practices to embrace during the coming year. Get your copy here!

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