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Have you ever worked for a big corporation?

Did you feel burned out on that lifestyle?

What were some contributing factors, if so?

Want me to take a guess?

I just read a blog post by Pamela Slim from Escape from Cubicle Nation, “An open letter to CXOs all over the world”.

Here are the salient points from her (extremely well written) blog post.

1. Don’t spend millions of dollars to try and change your culture. Corporate culture is a natural thing that cannot be manufactured.

2. Stop running your company like the mafia. “If you help your employees grow and develop in their career even if they plan to leave the company, you will create an extremely loyal workforce.”

3. Spend a moment walking around the halls of your company and look at your employees.

4. Teach people how to get rich like you.

5. Don’t ask for your employees’ input if you are not going to listen to it.

6. Don’t train people until you know what problem you are solving.

7. Ditch the PowerPoint when you have town hall meetings.

8. Focus on the work people do, not how or when they do it.

9. Watch the burnout.

10. Forbid people to work while they are on vacation.

She says in the article, in so many words, “Fire the assholes, and company culture will change.”

I have known bosses like the ones she described, people who did not know or care how the company was really doing. Jobs where how late you stayed meant you were working hard, not the amount you actually got accomplished before 12pm. Jobs where all employees had salary freezes for 9 years, and the cost of living increase in pay was eaten by the CEO. Jobs where we all got together and to make a strategic plan, and over and over again, the plan would be completely ignored.

And best of all? These jobs were at small nonprofits. Yep. Nonprofits are no safer than big corporations for the little guy.

So, if you’re considering a career change, and think that nonprofits will bring you that warm fuzzy feeling instead of a big corporation’s cold efficiency, don’t assume anything.

What would you like to do to change the nonprofit system?

If I were you, I would start to bring back some accountability among our leaders by becoming one of them.

Start by going to sit on a board of a small nonprofit. Look at the system that is in place. Are there checks and balances? Start digging. Start noticing the signs of nonprofit mismanagement. They are remarkably similar to business mis-management.

How much turnover has there been in the last year? The last five years? If there has been a lot of turnover, who is responsible for it?

Start asking questions. Innocent questions. “Why are we doing it this way?”

“What’s another way we could do this?” “Why can’t this person make a mistake?”

“Why am I getting paid a salary when salaries are supposed to be reserved for managers, and I’m not managing anyone, and I’m expected to work all of this overtime for free?”

“How do we celebrate what’s working?”

“How do we celebrate mistakes and encourage people to make more of them?”

“How do we deal with conflict here?”

“Is the employee handbook followed, or is it really more of a guideline?”

“Are our policies and procedures protecting or harming our workers?”

“If we have at-will employment, and are not protecting our workers, why do we expect them to do a good job for us?”

If it’s not safe for you to ask these questions where you currently work, have you ever thought about forming a union?

A union could protect you from being discriminated against, help you get cost-of-living pay increases, and more. And if you are fired for trying to form a union, the union will fight for you, and win, because that is actually illegal.

What do you think? Do you recognize some of this typical corporate mis-management within your own nonprofit?

Sound off, I’m listening!

If you’re feeling fed up and ready to do something, check out these posts:
How do I start a union?
Bullying Bosses can cause Employee Suicide
Is your nonprofit promoting a culture of destitution?