Minga Foundation Ups Productivity by Raising Awareness of Personal Motivators
We were pleased and honored to have been invited to help a new and growing NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) called the Minga Foundation that is deeply involved in gathering and distributing resources to communities in less-developed countries to improve their abilities to help themselves (“Helping a person learn how to fish to feed his or her community” is a paraphrase of a common way to understand their mission.)
Here is a brief summary of their challenge, our involvement, and the results they gained with our help.
The board of the Minga Foundation had called a Board of Directors retreat to work out their next strategic plan.
The retreat participants needed to make the most of their limited time together, and were looking for methods that could accelerate the group’s acclimation process, and find ways to better utilize the diverse talents inherent in this group of highly successful people.
Who is Minga?
The Minga Foundation is a non-profit organization that partners with individuals and community-based organizations in underserved communities to improve socioeconomic conditions and health equity.
Their main projects currently:
- A water project in Uganda
- An education initiative in Malawi
- Health programs in Ecuador
Through collaborative and respectful partnerships, Minga works to build capacity, create and strengthen networks, and provide resources based on locally-identified needs. Their goal is to empower those seeking a healthier future for their communities.
Seeking a tool to improve Minga Board collaboration
A board member, Jessica Nadolski, had experienced the team engagement techniques of Bovo-Tighe in another setting. She suggested that running a team profile might winkle out some of the interpersonal issues and help get the group onto the same page more quickly, aligning their evident passion for the mission more closely and making their time together more efficient and productive.
What the Minga Board did
They chose to use a team profiling assessment process to define communication preferences and each board member’s personal motivators:
- Before the retreat, each member of the team completed a 20-minute online assessment that identified skill competencies, communication preferences and internal motivators.
- A 45-minute telephone debrief of the results was scheduled with each team member.
- A team profile was compiled to present the diverse styles and motivators contained in the group.
“During our annual retreat, we reviewed some summaries that I put together based on our team profile, personal profiles, and all of the notes and perspectives from you and Kris,” reported Jessica. “That information was extremely valuable.”
It is important for any team that comes together (or gets thrown together) to quickly understand each team member’s behavior style and their motivations for participating. For this group, understanding motivations was the critical element to helping them move forward more quickly.
“We had a great time reviewing and discussing the results…after a long day of planning. As we discussed the results, we laughed, shared perspectives, acknowledged where we connect and disconnect, and became more aware of what motivates us and why we are a part of this team.”
Greater awareness of what drives each team member allows every team member to relate better, and couch ideas and issues in terms that resonate with each person. That ability to communicate effectively speeds their ability to forge productive working relationships and better accomplish their goals.
This may seem less critical with a non-profit board. After all, non-profits are quite good at clarifying and pursuing their mission; you would assume that the board members would already have a clue about what motivates his or her fellow board members to put their passion into this particular cause.
People are people, however, regardless of the circumstances. Even when the mission is clearly defined, people will struggle to work effectively with particular co-workers because their behavior styles clash and their underlying motivations for adopting the mission are not aligned.
“As we talked about some ways that we can bridge where we naturally differ from others, we began discussing opportunities to better leverage the interests and strengths of each team member. As the bottom-line person…I see this as a huge opportunity to become more aligned and efficient and achieve better results as an organization. The great news is – others also saw this as an opportunity to streamline our organizational duties so we can have more time to focus on helping more people live healthier lives.”
The drag on a team’s productivity does not spring from the group having a diverse mix of motivations and behavior styles. Rather, the drags on productivity arise from a lack of understanding about how clashing styles and conflicting motivations are causing the misalignment and disengagement.
Every team benefits from having a mix of styles, and diversity in talent and motivation. That mix makes a team highly productive if it is managed well.
For the Minga Foundation board, simply going through the assessment exercise opened people’s eyes about how different they each were, and what a range of motivations underlay each person’s involvement.
As Jessica noted, this awareness opened the door almost instantly to:
- Forging better working relationships
- More clearly communicating opinions in ways to which their fellow board members could easily relate
- Assigning tasks that fit each person’s skills and motivations best for fulfilling the plan they created together.
Specific Achievements Cited
- Changed the structure of Minga’s organization to allow more flexibility for people to work on different teams and projects that motivate and interest them. The previous structure separated people functionally and did not leave much time or space for working in the areas where each had the most interest and could add the most value to the team.
- Made the decision to take on additional board members in 2014, and will begin that process with the understanding of the type of behavioral styles and skills Minga would like to add to the team.
“In the end, we all agreed that our Bovo-Tighe exercise was such a valuable and rewarding experience. Every board member wanted to share their thanks and appreciation for your help – our experience with you and the Bovo-Tighe team was the buzz of the whole retreat!”
We at Bovo-Tighe look forward to following and supporting the Minga board members as they work to fully leverage their passion and their diverse talents to achieve their mission more quickly and more broadly!