29 tips for being a horrible supervisor that everyone hates

cat-1599158_1280Hi everyone. Last week, I wrote about the importance of firing people faster. Some employees are not effective, and sometimes they’re downright toxic, and we need to let them go. However, often it’s not the employee who is incompetent or toxic, but their supervisors. So, to bring balance, this week, I am writing about horrible bosses. I asked the NWB Facebook community to send in horror stories. I got nearly 200 comments, which I’ve artisanally curated and quoted below. Due to being thrown-up on by a six-month-old baby among other fatherly adventures, I couldn’t include everyone’s input. We may have to make this into a series (like the nonprofit children’s books series, but less hilarious and more horrifying).

Get some coffee and some aspirins ready; this may be a little painful. Continue reading

Why we hold on to bad employees, and why we need to fire people faster

game-animals-334334_1280Hi everyone. This post a little tough for me to write. Because, I love the people in our sector, 93% of whom are amazing, dedicated, wonderful individuals. Getting a chance to work with you every day is one of the biggest reasons I love doing what I do. Knowing you are out there makes it easier for me to get out of bed each day, put on deodorant, wet down my cowlicks, eat a handful of Fudgee-Os, and tackle injustice (not always in that order).

This post, however, as you can tell by the title, deals with challenging staff situations; specifically, why we hold on to people who are ineffective or even harmful to our organizations, what that does to our team and mission, and what we need to do about it. I am not an HR expert, and recommend you go to people who are (Ask a Manager is one great resource). So take my words with a swig of Pepto. But having been an ED for a while now, and being in various venting sessions with colleagues, whom I’m quoting in this post, I’ve been noticing some patterns. Continue reading

17 irritating jargon phrases, and awesome new sayings we should use instead

bunny-1567479_960_720Hi everyone. Since the last few posts have been somewhat serious—boo!—this one is going to be a little lighter. A few months ago, I wrote 21 irritating jargon phrases and what we should replace them with. Well, we barely peeled the butternut on annoying cliches. So, based on readers’ requests, here are 17 more, and the awesome new sayings we should replace them with. Thanks to my colleagues for your contributions. Continue reading

9 traits of the kind of leaders we need in this time and place

flower-108685_1280Hi everyone, this post may be a little more serious than usual. Last week, Seattle lost one of our community leaders, legendary activist Bob Santos. “Uncle Bob” was one of the Gang of Four, also known as the Four Amigos, a group of racially diverse friends who hung out, sang karaoke, and fought injustice. The other three Amigos were Bernie Whitebear, Roberto Maestas, and Larry Gossett. They realized that they, and their diverse ethnic communities, were much stronger together, a philosophy that carried them through countless successful sit-ins, rallies, and other forms of protests in their fights around gentrification, poverty, funding inequity, fishing rights, and other issues. The friendship between these men—who are Black, Native, Latino, and Asian—and their activism, made Seattle better and continue to inspire countless people, including me.

The Four Amigos are a significant inspiration for the founding of my organization, Rainier Valley Corps, which has a mission of ensuring the nonprofit sector has a strong bench of leaders of color. We are building the next generation of 100 Amigos and Amigas. If a Gang of Four diverse leaders bonded by deep friendship can do so much for a community, imagine how much a Gang of 100 social justice leaders can do. This vision is what guides RVC, along with the question, “What kind of leaders do we need in this time and place?”

Continue reading

Requiring formal education as a default is an inequitable hiring practice we need to end

barn-owl-1208035_960_720Recently, I’ve been seeing more and more job postings list the salary range. This is awesome. As awesome as the Netflix series “Stranger Things,” which I binge-watched in three days in lieu of sleeping. As I mentioned, not listing salary is inequitable, punishing women and people of color and wasting everyone’s time; and the corollary practice of asking for salary history is as evil and gross as the monster in “Stranger Things” and also must be destroyed.

But now, we also need to focus on another pervasive and inequitable hiring practice: our default of requiring a formal degree for practically every job in our sector. If you look at job postings, you’ll likely see language like “Bachelor’s degree in related field required” or “Bachelor’s required, Master’s preferred.” Even for entry-level positions. This mention of a formal degree in job postings is so ingrained in all of us that it is seen as normal, and we don’t even stop to think about it. It’s kind of like having a veggie platter at a party; it doesn’t matter how many people will actually eat the celery sticks and raw cauliflower florets—basically three people—we must have the giant veggie platter!

If we want to create a just society, we have to be more thoughtful of our hiring practices, because this formal education requirement hurts real people and perpetuates the inequity that all of us are fighting against. Here are a few reasons why: Continue reading