Is your nonprofit team facing communication breakdowns, trust issues, or struggling to work cohesively? You’re not alone. Many nonprofit teams encounter these challenges, hindering their effectiveness and impact.

Which of these is most challenging for your nonprofit teams?

  • Lack of Team Cohesion
  • Ineffective Communication
  • Lack of Trust and/or Psychological Safety
  • Something Else (Please let us know in the comments!)

I recently posed this question informally on LinkedIn. Can you guess the most common answer? It was a tie between Lack of Team Cohesion and Lack of Trust / Psychological Safety.

Are you surprised? I’m not either!

Common Challenges in Nonprofit Teams

As a consultant, one of the most frequent requests I receive is to facilitate a workshop, such as a DiSC Workshop, to help improve internal communication for a nonprofit team. After probing deeper to understand what drives these requests, I often hear stories about:

  • Communication breakdowns among team members
  • Gossip and talking behind backs
  • Recent staffing or organizational changes disrupting communication
  • Poor understanding of roles and responsibilities

When we get into the workshop and start discussions, here are some common revelations:

  1. Understanding Communication Styles: Team members discover that their communication styles and behaviors may contribute more than they thought to the internal communication challenges.
  2. Uncovering Underlying Issues: Ineffective communication often stems from a lack of team cohesion.
  3. Highlighting Safety Concerns: Many team members feel unsafe speaking up or offering/receiving feedback.

Reflecting on Your Team’s Communication

Have you noticed any of these issues within your own team? Consider these questions:

  • If someone makes a mistake on the team, are they likely to feel it would be held against them?
  • Are members of the team reluctant to bring up problems or tough issues?
  • Do people on the team ever reject others for being or thinking differently?
  • Do team members feel safe taking risks or trying new things?
  • How easy is it for team members to ask others for help?
  • Would anyone on the team deliberately act in a way that undermines another team member’s efforts?
  • Do team members feel their unique skills and talents are valued and utilized?
  • How high would the team score itself on the level of trust among team members?
  • Are team members able to engage in conflict and resolve disagreements?
  • How well do team members fulfill their commitments to the rest of the team?
  • Would team members say that there is good accountability among the group?
  • Is the team achieving the goals and results it has set for itself and for the organization?

My Challenge to YOU…

As you read through these questions, consider how your team might answer if they were completely honest with you. 

Now, imagine how they would respond if their most trusted non-work friend asked them these same questions. 

Would they answer the same way? If not, how different would the answers be?

Let’s Improve Together

I work with nonprofit teams that want to feel safe speaking up and being themselves. They know that if they felt safer and had more trust in their teammates, they could do more amazing work together.

And they know they need help getting there. 

If your team wants to be more cohesive, let’s schedule a call to discuss how I can help. 

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