I'm nearly 3 months into my new job and am enjoying it, for the most part. I answer to an executive director and a board of directors. Today, the incoming chair of the board sent me this message, without copying my boss:
"is there anything that the board could do for you that would make your job easier?
are you feeling good about this position? the other staff good to work with?"
I'm not sure how to respond to this, especially since he didn't copy my supervisor on the message. Technically, I report to the executive director first, then the board, so I'm worried about circumventing the chain of command. During my time in this position I have noticed some real issues, most of which stem directly from my supervisor, with whom I have a great relationship but she tends to rub people the wrong way. I know another board member is about to lodge a complaint about her, so I'm wondering if this message isn't really more about fishing for details than anything else. Most of the organizational challenges stem directly from my boss, who is a great person but not a great administrator.
How do I respond? I don't want to put my concerns or suggestions in writing, since that could make its way back to my supervisor. But at the same time I feel like this organization could use a bit of administrative insight.
What she said.
If you want to respond and discuss the issues I would respond asking for a meeting.
If you don't want to get involved I would just say something basically stating that you just started and don't have an opinion yet.
This sounds like normal follow-up with new hires. We do something simiar at the 3 month mark and we don't include the manager on the email either.
My advice - I would tread lightly on this. If you have concerns they should be addressed with your manager first. I would hate to receive a complaint/concern that wasn't addressed with the manager first. If you have more general feedback or input that doesn't directly involve your manager I would respond with that. Or, if you have feedback on the recruiting/hiring/onboarding process you went though, I would also include that.
Keep in mind, any feedback you give, whether in writing or in-person, will get back to your manager.
First off I am the Executive Director at a small non-profit, all staff members report to me, I report to the board of directors. I'll be honest it seems strange to me that you report to both the ED and the board. I've been at my agency 2 years and we did have a situation where a long standing staff member went to the board with an issue and they immediately brought it to me, in my case the board allowing that to happen created a really strange situation that resulted in the long standing staffer leaving. It was really a simple issue but sometimes boards especially at non-profits don't grasp the idea of a chain of a command and it creates an awkward situation for all parties.
In your case I would tread very lightly, I am assuming since you refer to a board & an ED that this is most likely a non-profit organization. I've been in this sector long enough to have had ED's who frankly had poor people skills as far as the administrative staff yet they excelled at raising money which ultimately is a big thing. Many a board will overlook a lousy ED if that person has the ability to bring in money which basically makes it a lousy situation for the folks who report to the ED. Two ED's I had over the years come to mind in just typing this, one was borderline abusive to the staff yet when it came to raising money and grants she had the Midas touch.
Anyway I would probably not write anything down, but talk to the person. Reason I say this is my own staffer sent an email to the board which they promptly sent to me and again it was awkward. Sometimes board members because they are often not involved in all day to day actions have no idea what their simple actions mean. I will be honest though and say it also seems strange that another board member would tell you they are about to lodge a complaint against the ED who is actually your supervisor, that is rather unprofessional IMO.
Thanks for your replies, everyone. I'm going to set up a lunch date with this board member.
Shayinme, you had the right ideas. This organization has a unique background: it is a state nonprofit but not a 501(c)3. They have a few nonprofit fiscal agents that they work under in order to get grants. We give 10% of every grant to our fiscal agents in return for their financial services. Part of my job is helping them transition to becoming a 501(c)3 so we can stop using fiscal agents. The group has received 1.8 million in grants over the past 2 years but it was a highly collaborative process, not something that the ED can necessarily take credit for. They keep her around because she is extremely well known and has good personal relationships with a few board members. And we have a pretty weak board with lots of turnover, so I don't think they want to bother with dealing with her. I have a feeling that they are waiting for her to retire in a couple of years.
There's a few things I'd like to talk to someone about, like how my boss does not understand the laws and provisions associated with contracted staff and is opening the org. to liability through her actions toward contractors. And how she is having me do things like cultivate new board members and individual donors, which is actually her job. But I really don't want to rock the boat.