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专栏 - 向Anne提问

商界精英如何在非营利机构吃得开

Anne Fisher 2014年03月27日

Anne Fisher为《财富》杂志《向Anne提问》的专栏作者,这个职场专栏始于1996年,帮助读者适应经济的兴衰起落、行业转换,以及工作中面临的各种困惑。
非营利机构的确需要商业人士的技能,但个人要想从商界转战非营利性事业,这种转变往往并不顺利。需要做好多方面的准备,才能实现平稳过渡。

亲爱的安妮:我最早投身金融行业,是在30年前位于中东地区的一家医疗公益组织,后来进入私营行业。现在,我在一家大公司做到了资深高管的位置。在这家公司,我的职业生涯已经达到最高点了,而且我快要六十岁了,正是该考虑“退休”的时候(虽然我并不想停止工作)。当地一家慈善机构的总裁即将退休,我们曾在另外一家非营利机构的董事会上见过面,他一直希望我能在他退休之后接替他,这是一个很有吸引人的想法。

    但让我犹豫不决的是,首先,我知道,非营利机构的董事会成员与非营利机构的日常运营完全是两回事。我不确定自己是否合适这个职务。其次,上一次我在非营利机构全职工作已经是很久以前的事情了。我敢肯定,现在的情况肯定发生了巨大的变化。如何顺利完成这种转变,您和您的读者有什么建议?——J.J.

亲爱的J.J.:首先是好消息:经过五年左右的艰苦等待,许多非营利机构已经开始从经济衰退的影响中恢复过来。咨询公司Nonprofit HR最新的调查发现,约有45%的非营利机构计划在今年创造新的工作岗位,仅有7%计划裁员——而在2009年,约有22%的非营利机构裁员。调查显示,在招聘新高管的非营利机构中,约40%希望从商业领域物色经验丰富的管理者。

    猎头公司Salveson Stetson Group的非营利业务负责人约翰•萨尔凡森说:“非营利机构高级职位的传统候选人往往是某个具体领域专家,例如,他们在运营孤独症基金会方面可能有丰富的专门经验,但现在,这种专业人才可能无法符合要求。政府削减了资助,对私人捐助的争夺愈加激烈,所以商业技能变得更加重要。非营利机构必须‘更聪明地开展工作’,要像经营性公司那样思考问题。”

    即便如此,正如你所怀疑的那样,将自己的商业技能应用到非营利机构可能依然是一个非常困难的过程。萨尔凡森建议,任何人在打算进入非营利机构之前,都应该考虑下面三个因素:

    1. 利益相关者。他说:“最大的不同是你需要考虑的利益相关者的数量。在非营利机构中,利益相关者要远远多于公司。所有人都认为,自己的意见同样重要,必须得到重视。”

    例如,公益医院的负责人,必须让当地政府、联邦政府、医院理事会、社区、患者、患者家属、医生、护士、其他员工和志愿者满意——所有人对于任何决定都可能出现强烈冲突的观点。萨尔凡森说:“承认每个人的重要性,然后协调他们的利益,会让运营一家非营利机构变得非常复杂。”作为董事,你对此或许已经有所体会,但作为负责人,你要做好面对瓶颈的准备。

    2. 文化。萨尔凡森经常建议求职者们,改变在公司中的观念,准备好接受“更注重协作的决策过程”。原因之一是,“工作人员的工资往往低于市场水平,因为他们对机构正在从事的事业充满热情。甚至有大批志愿者根本是在无偿服务。”所以,萨尔凡森认为,与你目前的下属形成鲜明对比的是,“非营利机构的工作人员不一定要听从你的指示。”所以,管理者最好多花些工夫,让所有人支持你和你的计划。

    除此之外,萨尔凡森说:“许多职业非营利机构员工对于从公司中外聘的管理者有一种先入为主的看法。他们认为,你习惯了不受限制的财政资源,你总是把利润摆在优先于人的位置。”所以,你要“放缓脚步,与所有人进行交流,少说多听,”以此来赢得他们的尊重。

    3. 董事会。你或许已经注意到,非营利机构的董事会在公司的眼中更像是“激进主义者”。他们会,或者是经常试图深度参与到机构的运营,经常高谈阔论,甚至监视(更不用说事后审查了)你的一举一动。此外,过去几年,非营利机构董事会的角色一直在不断变化,包括更多资金募集的职责,“但这些通常并不是最初跟他们约定的职责。”萨尔凡森表示:“所以,你的工作中非常微妙的一部分,可能是让这些人体面的退出,寻找愿意从事开发工作的人来代替。”

    萨尔凡森建议,在从事任何高管职位之前,尤其是机构领导者,你应该尽可能了解这家机构的董事会。他说:“他们也应该对你有所了解,确保你们能够基本达成共识。就算你考虑的是首席财务官的职位,也应该与董事会财务委员会的负责人见见面吧。如果他或她没有兴趣见你,那就没有留下了的必要。”

    另外一点:就像衡量一家经营性公司的职位一样,萨尔凡森建议:“要进行尽职调查。研究公司的财务状况,包括他们的融资方式,他们的主要资金来源是否稳定等。总之,必须睁大眼睛。”祝你好运。

    反馈:你是否曾在公司和非营利机构之间进行过工作转换?你认为两者之间最大的不同是什么?欢迎评论。(财富中文网)

    译者:刘进龙/汪皓

    Dear Annie: I started my career in finance about 30 years ago at a medical nonprofit in the Midwest, and then moved to the private sector. Now, I'm in senior management at a big company. I've gone about as far as I can go here, and I'm in my late 50s, so I'm thinking about "retirement" (although I don't really want to stop working). The current president of a local charity, who I met on a different nonprofit board, has been talking to me about taking his place when he retires soon, and it's an appealing idea.

    My only reservations are, first, I'm aware that nonprofit board membership is a very different animal from running the organization day to day, and I wonder whether I'm cut out for this. And second, the last time I worked full-time for a nonprofit was so long ago that I'm sure a lot has changed in the meantime. What can you and your readers advise me about making this move as frictionless as possible? -- Just Jack

    Dear J.J.: First, the good news: After a rocky five years or so, many nonprofits are starting to bounce back from the recession. About 45% of them plan to create new jobs this year, according to a new survey by consultants Nonprofit HR, while only 7% plan to cut staff -- down from 22% who laid people off in 2009. Among nonprofits hiring new senior executives, the survey says, about 40% are looking for seasoned managers from the business world.

    "Traditional candidates for nonprofit senior jobs were often subject-matter experts in the field -- people with extensive special-education experience to run an autism foundation, for example -- but they don't necessarily fit the bill anymore," says John Salveson, a principal and head of the nonprofit practice at executive recruiters Salveson Stetson Group. "Governments have cut funding, and competition for private donations has gotten more intense, so business skills matter more now. Nonprofits are having to 'work smarter' and think more like for-profit companies."

    Even so, applying your business know-how to a nonprofit may, as you suspect, prove tricky. Salveson suggests that anyone mulling such a move consider these three factors:

    1. Stakeholders. "The biggest difference is the number of stakeholders you have to consider," he says. "There are more of them in nonprofits than in business, and they all believe their opinions are equally important and must be heard."

    The head of a nonprofit hospital, for example, has to satisfy local government, the federal government, the hospital board, the community, patients, patients' families, doctors, nurses, other employees, and volunteers -- all of whom may have strong and conflicting views on any decision. "Recognizing that they all matter, and then reconciling their various interests, can make running a nonprofit very complicated," Salveson notes. As a nonprofit board member, you've probably already gotten a taste of this, but as president, be ready for the buck to stop with you.

    2. Culture. Salveson often advises candidates to get ready for "a much more collaborative decision-making process" than is generally found in business. One reason is that "staffers are usually paid below-market wages, because they're passionate about what the organization is doing, and you often have large numbers of volunteers who aren't getting paid at all." So, in marked contrast to the people who work for you now, Salveson says, "they really don't have to listen to you." It may well take some extra effort to get everybody behind you and your plans.

    On top of that, "many career nonprofit employees have stereotyped ideas about managers who come in from the business world," Salveson says. "They think you're used to unlimited financial resources, and that you always put profits before people." So you will likely need to win their respect, Salveson says, by "slowing down a little and having conversations where you do most of the listening."

    3. The board. Nonprofit boards of directors, as you may already have noticed, tend toward the type that a corporation would consider "activist." They are, or often try to be, deeply involved, quite vocal, and watching (not to say second-guessing) your every move. Moreover, their role has changed in the past several years to include much more fundraising than in the past, "which is often not at all what they signed on for," Salveson notes. "So a delicate part of your job may be giving those people a graceful exit, and finding replacements who are ready and willing to do development work."

    Before you take on any executive role, but especially the top job, Salveson urges you to get to know the board as well as you can. "They should want to know you, too, and make sure you're roughly on the same page," he says. "Even if you're considering, say, a chief financial officer position, you certainly should meet the head of the board's finance committee -- and, if he or she isn't interested in meeting with you, run away."

    One more thing: Just as you would if you were weighing a job with a for-profit, Salveson says, "Do your due diligence. Study the organization's finances, including how they're funded, and how stable their main sources of funding are. You need to go in with your eyes wide open." Good luck.

    Talkback: Have you made a move between the corporate and nonprofit worlds? What are the biggest differences you've seen? Leave a comment below.

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