Leader of a Nonprofit Organization Can Find Research Paper

Pages: 8 (2538 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Leadership

¶ … leader of a nonprofit organization can find ways to continually motivate and challenge his/her employees and volunteers while maintaining high morale

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The 2000s are perhaps the most difficult times for a leader of a non-profit organization. The integrity and performance of nonprofit organizations in the united Sates have become increasingly under attack, often due to burnout on the part of the employees, and there are urgent calls to hold nonprofit organizations more accountable for their behavior and performance (Young, Banier, & Bailey, 1996). For these and other reasons, a leader of a nonprofit organization (NPO) is in an unenviable position. Whilst accountable to investors, the NPO has to attract incumbents for low paying sums, and interest its people to stay. The leader of such an organization has to, simultaneously, maintain control over his or her own emotional turmoil whilst guiding dependents through the predictably fluctuating situations of the organization's career. Multiple studies and research have been conducted on suggestions of how a for-profit organization can motivate its employees; very little has been done on recommendations for a NPO organization, and yet a NPO organization must have it all the more challenging. More so, as Alatristia and Arrowsmith (2004) pointed out, lessons from how a NPO organization manages to motivate its subordinates can be expanded to a for profit organization. This is the objective to this essay: to categorize the variety of extrinsic and intrinsic rewards that can motivate volunteers, before assessing the evidence and formulating a conclusion. The essay draws on a variety of organizations that have been studied, incorporates two on-site interviews, and quotes research that has employed meta-analysis investigation of more than 91 organizations in order to reach its conclusion.

Challenges that Non-profit Organizations Face

Research Paper on Leader of a Nonprofit Organization Can Find Assignment

NPOs have to maintain the interest of their workers to stay and produce consistently effective performance despite the relatively low pay, job insecurity, and poor career development. These difficulties are compounded for managers by other factors such as small organizational size, over-reliance on already belabored staff, a high concentration of female, part-time and temporary employment, and a reliance on unpaid overtime labor (Alatrista & Arrowsmith, 2004). Labor turnover in the NPO sector is, consequently, high and rising (ibid.).

Using the framework of Perry, Mesch, and Paarlberg (2006), I will analyze four elements that have been suggested to contribute to employee motivation whilst incorporating other research into this analysis

1. Financial incentives

In its most optimistic light, monetary incentives is seen as being moderately effective. In its most pessimistic aspects, reviews on public sector services (as opposed to financial incentives implemented in for profit incentives) generally suggest that pay-for-performance (pfp) systems and merit pay have generally been unsuccessful, contribute little to initiating or maintaining employee motivation, and effect little in terms of performance (Brandl & Guttl, 2007). Research is divided as to financial effectiveness (Perry, Mesch, & Paarlberg, 2006), but does indicate that even when effective it is mostly so when it is combined with feedback and social recognition. At the same time, researchers, over and again, emphasize that these findings should be treated skeptically, particularly since they have largely been conducted on college students and/or on organizations where confounding characteristics -- such as possible inadequate funding for merit pay and dysfunctional organization and managerial characteristics -- may have distorted the conclusions. Group incentive systems have consistently been found to be effective, but these again have not been well tested in the public sector setting, and their conditions of effectuality are unclear. Apparently, effectiveness depends on the characteristics of the reward, the organization, the team, and the individual team members. Ultimately, then, it seems as though the individual is part of the team since he is attracted to some of its intrinsic elements. Volunteers are usually attracted to the organization in the first place since it provides them with some social or emotional or perhaps informative asset and support (Govekar, 2004). Extrinsic motivators, in such a case, would not only discourage the volunteer but also very probably repel him. Indeed, studies found that people who volunteer experience higher levels of interest in an organization than those who don't, and that this pertained more significantly in terms of those who donate their time rather than in terms of those who donated money; the former felt more dedicated and emotionally involved in the organization than the latter category did (Govekar, 2004).

2. Job Design

As seen with Camus' analogy of Sisyphus, employees need to know what they are working for and they need to have this mission clearly articulated to them. This might be the most important motivator, since as Victor Frankl says individuals crave meaning in life. If subordinates have chosen team involvement despite low or even non-existent compensation, the labor obviously then gives that something that a replacement cannot. It is, therefore, important to demonstrate that their efforts are being rewarded, and to delineate to them where they are standing. Indeed Hackman and Oldham's (1980) job characteristics model posits that jobs rich in task significance stimulate certain psychological states such as a sense of meaningfulness of work which in turn increases the likelihood of optimism and 'extraordinary' performance.

Both of my interviewees were big on communication. Laura Way CEO of Green Hill Center for NC Art explained that: "My leadership style is that of a realist: I do not believe in sugarcoating the bare facts for my team. They needs and deserve to know the truth about what is going on with our organization at all times." Whilst J.M. Jardina, CEO of Healthserve Medical Clinics reiterated that her methods of support and directions were "Communication, communication, communication… [I] reassure the team that we're going to be o.k. with actions, not just with words."

"Job redesign," as Perry, Mesch, and Paarlberg (2006) state, " has been found to reduce turnover and absenteeism as well as increase job satisfaction, organizational commitment, productivity, and work quality" (p.4). Whether however, job design influences affective outcomes more than it does actual performance is uncertain, although performance is more difficult to measure, and it seems plausible that positive affect would correlate with positive performance since there is a casual chain between psychological states and job outcome.

3. Participation

Job participation entails "joint decision making or influence sharing between employees and managers" (Doucouliagos in Perry, Mesch, and Paarlberg, 2006). Review by Perry et al. (2006), however, demonstrates that whilst participation may have positive effects on affective attachment to organization, it has only a small positive effect on performance. On the other hand, employees who perceive themselves to be more in control at work are "more satisfied, more motivated, and more committed to the organization." Aside from employee participation being of technical value to organizational goals, it also provides a perk in that it may have a stronger impact on employee satisfaction in that they perceive themselves as being heard and as having a stake in organizational running. As Locke and Schweiger (1979; quoted by Perry et al. (2006)) however note: numerous contextual features -- such as organization size, task complexity, quality of existing working relationships, and leadership skills -- influence the association between performance and participation. Clarity regarding value of participation has therefore not been conclusively reached. What is unquestionable however is that clear communication between all teams is a prerequisite. Jardina, herself, relies heavily on participations. As she noted "I am open to all ideas that will improve our practice. The ideas do not have to come from me. In fact, most of them should come from the team."

The carrot of a volunteer position is autonomy. For this autonomy to remain, the volunteer needs to feel respected and condoned. Communication can maintain this. On the other hand, the leader's power must be evident and felt (although not in a threatening manner). Murray, Bradshaw and Wolpin's (1992) study found that power is an important whilst largely neglected factor in the assessment of effectiveness of NPO governance.

4. Goal setting

Goal-setting theory posits that challenging and well-specified goals placed in incrementally difficult yet reachable states will improve the actions of employees. Nevertheless, taking into account that many of the participants have arbitrarily chosen to affiliate themselves with the organization might imply that goal setting might not only limit their enthusiasm, but also actually, unnecessarily, irk them. Goal setting is most effective when employees are committed to their goals; receive incentives (monetary or otherwise), and feedback regarding their performance. However, goal setting and implementation itself depends on the characteristics of the individuals for success; individuals with a high level of self-efficacy might arbitrarily select goals of their own accord and show greater diligence in pursuing them. Ultimately, therefore, as Perry et al. (2006) conclude, "research suggests that the relationships between goal setting and measures of performance are moderated by many contextual factors, including task structure and employee characteristics" (p.26).

Both of my interviewees were big on goals. Laura Way insisted that "I am always looking for results from my staff. I always challenge them to defend issues objectively, ask themselves… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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