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We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve turned to a friend  to ask for relationship advice and have been offered a pearl of wisdom like: “never go to bed angry”; “forgive and forget”; or “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.

Similarly, over the years I’ve received some great career advice like: “do good work and the money will come”; “never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself”; and “it’s business – not personal”.

what advice would I offer to assist people from the commercial and not-for-profit (NFP) sector to build productive relationships when, fundamentally, the two groups are often coming from completely different mindsets (ie “for-profit” vs NFP).

Each time, in whichever life space, the advise has seemed relevant and I’ve been happy to receive it – if not always act on it!

As Kylea Tink & Associates gets up and running then, I have found myself frequently discussing what advice I would offer to assist people from the commercial and not-for-profit (NFP) sector to build productive relationships when, fundamentally, the two groups are often coming from completely different mindsets (ie “for-profit” vs NFP).

After all, how many commercial entities worry the ratio between their production and marketing spends will ever be scrutinised by their customers? I’m not certain, but I’m guessing a bottle of water costs a lot less to make than is spent on advertising it. On the flip side NFPs often dread a call from a newspaper challenging them on their spend ratios.

Similarly, I’d suggest NFPs rarely worry about being challenged on their intention to add something positive to a community. While those taking people’s savings and turning them into shareholder profit need to be well rehearsed on their response.

how many commercial entities worry the ratio between their production and marketing spends will ever be scrutinised by their customers? I’m not certain, but I’m guessing a bottle of water costs a lot less to make than is spent on advertising it.

While fundamentally Kylea Tink and Associates is all about helping organisations navigate this divide, realising we can’t be everywhere at once, we wanted to offer at few suggestions on how a conversations between for-profit and NFP can be framed to help achieve faster results

Firstly, know you are not speaking the same language because you weren’t necessarily raised the same way:

Many of the people involved in the NFP space are there because they are drawn by their hearts. They may never have worked in a big corporate environment nor will they. They haven’t “grown up” in an environment where efficiencies are about exponential year on year growth. They often measure their success not by achieving an ultimate outcome (ie all homeless housed) but rather by measuring the “amount of good” they are doing. This can be hard to get your head around when you are coming from a commercial enterprise.

Secondly, just because you have come from a successful commercial background doesn’t necessarily mean you will be successful in a NFP environment.

 Government is about pragmatism – statistics, fact and politics; Commercial is about profit – rewards for owner, staff and customer; and NFP is about heart – it’s high on emotional intelligence as it taps a different part of people’s psyche to get them engaged.

Having now had experience across all three sectors (Government, Commercial and NFP) I think I can say with some perspective that success in one doesn’t necessarily translate into success in another.

This is because in my experience each sector is driven by a different fundamental philosophy.  Government is about pragmatism – statistics, fact and politics; Commercial is about profit – rewards for owner, staff and customer; and NFP is about heart – it has to be high on emotional intelligence as it taps a different part of people’s psyche to get them engaged.

Given this finding the right person for the role you have and the organisation you are trying to create is absolutely key to success for any of the sectors.

Finally, I’ve come to believe the answer is not in just “shipping in” people from the commercial sector to get a faster result  – rather it’s about  supporting the NFP sector to build its own capacity through training, mentoring and support. 

 I actually stopped learning in the truest sense of word in that I didn’t have any outside training/ education. Rather my learning came from trial and error on the job and in this context, once I had exhausted everything I had been previously been taught, I literally exhausted myself.

For me this is a particularly personal observation as I was one of those commercial types who landed in the NFP sector. I’d never wanted to work for a NFP as I had often found them “clunky” ie slow to deliver results.

However when someone I admired from afar passed away I thought it was right to help and what was initially a three-month stint turned into  six years doing some incredible work with an amazing group of people.

Drawing on my most recent experience at that time though (ie global consultancy for over 10 years), the team I built were mostly people from the “real” business world. My thinking was bring that expertise in and leverage it.

Looking back, while there is little doubt that approach helped us shape up quickly and get some great results, I think I also missed a trick as, rather than stopping and looking at what I might have been taught about life in an NFP from others that had chosen that career, I dived in.

What I now realise then is that during that time I actually stopped learning in the truest sense of word in that I didn’t have any outside training/ education. Rather my learning came from trial and error on the job and in this context, once I had exhausted everything I had been previously been taught, I literally exhausted myself.

I now also know that wasn’t necessary – there are developmental scholarships for those working in the NFP sector so my advice: ensure you feed your own intellect at the same pace as you are feeding your organisation, or at the very least, tap into resources outside your own organisation to stay connected to the latest thinking.

On that last note, know that the team at Kylea Tink & Associates is here if you feel you would like some help navigating your relationships. After all, that is why myself and the amazing team of people I am now working with again, have chosen to go this route.

Now there’s a great relationship opportunity worth pursuing!

Kylea

Kylea Tink & Associates

Contact us at: kylea@ktassociates.net.au; sam@ktassociates.net.au; elise@ktassociates.net.au

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