Professional Development

Do You Need a Coach or Consultant?

By | Professional Development | No Comments

Business coaching, personal coaching, or consulting—what is the difference among these professional services and what does your organization really need? Many nonprofit organizations do not have the budget to hire consultants or coaches, but if you are looking for one—either personally or professionally—it’s important to understand the difference in how each service works, and what the expectations should be for working with each.

Coaching and Consulting Defined

Coaching is a process in which a coach—business, personal, etc. —helps an individual set and reach their goals. The coach offers guidance and support along the way, often with weekly meetings or other check-in sessions to ensure the person being coached is on track to achieve their goals. The coach will help the individual develop self-awareness, identify areas for improvement, and create action plans. The focus is on the individual’s personal growth and development.

Consulting is a process in which an expert in a particular field offers advice and guidance to an individual or organization. The consultant’s goal is to provide insights, resources, and expertise to help the individual or organization reach their goals. The focus is on the organization’s operations, strategies, and processes, rather than the individual’s personal growth and development.

Difference in Approach and Expectations

Coaches and consultants also differ in their approach. Coaches typically work one to one with clients, serving as both cheerleader and guide to achieving personal goals. Consultants, on the other hand, work at an organizational level, approaching business problems from the viewpoint of an expert in a particular business discipline such as accounting, finance, marketing, or management.

Given these differing approaches, the expectations should also be different whether you are working with a coach or a consultant. A coach will help an individual move past personal roadblocks, whereas a consultant should help an organization rethink and revisit processes, procedures, systems, and approaches that are hindering them as a while from achieving their objectives.

Coaching Differs from Therapy

Given the highly personal work that coaches offer, why shouldn’t people consult a therapist instead of a coach to help them overcome personal problems? Coaches approach problem-solving differently than therapists. Therapists are attuned to underlying patterns of behavior and maladaptation that may lead to psychological problems. Coaches do not deal with psychological problems. Instead, they focus on helping people make better choices, enforce positive steps, and offer guidance to overcome problems.

Expert Consultants Save Your Organization Time and Money

An expert business consultant can save your organization a great deal of time and money. Given their expertise, they can help you steer your organization towards the right systems, processes, tools, and resources to improve efficiency and ability to deliver on your mission.

For example, your organization’s systems, including accounting systems, grant management, and donor management systems, can save countless hours of manual data entry into spreadsheets. They can improve your ability to track and manage funds. And they can provide better support for all aspects of your organization so that you can implement, manage, and monitor programs effectively.

The right business consultant knows their domain so well that they can help you avoid many of the pitfalls that similar organizations face. Welter Consulting offers a variety of consulting services including software solutions and technology, accounting, audit preparation, systems review, process improvement/documentation, internal controls, and many other accounting/business management services that save your organization time and money and allows you the flexible consulting you need.

Sign up for our Complimentary Systems Review and Start Your Year Off Right

It’s accrual world. Your accounting system should not be cruel. Take advantage of this opportunity to have a Systems Review and start the new year off right. 

Included in this complimentary service is a written review identifying your current systems and technology and a list of opportunities to improve these systems and help you get the most out of your accounting software.

If you are tired of manual and redundant processes, it’s time to SIGN UP for our Systems Review Now!

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact us for more information.

Four Characteristics of a Successful Finance Leader

By | Accounting, Professional Development | No Comments
people standing and cheering behind another person in an office

What type of leader are you? Do you thrive on interactions with others, exchanging ideas, brainstorming, and working in groups? Or perhaps you are more on the visionary side, sharing stories, examples, and ideas to motivate and inspire your team.

These are just two examples of characteristics or traits of successful finance leaders. Not every leader possesses all these traits; most have a dominant working style, and perhaps a secondary style. No one style is better or worse than another, either. Some leadership styles fit in better with a particular organization’s culture than other styles, but that doesn’t necessarily make them better (or worse).

Each person’s personality is shaped by both innate characteristics and their life histories and experiences. We bring these attributes to our roles as finance leaders and managers. See which one of these four characteristics best describes your leadership style and learn how you can leverage your strengths for the betterment of the entire organization.

Leadership Style 1: The Connected Influencer

This is the leader who uses their connections within the organization—with the CEO, the CMO, and other leaders—to influence and shape the trajectory of their organization. They thrive on teamwork, but more so on using their position to create positive, lasting changes.

Leadership Style 2: The Authentic Disruptor

This is the leader who isn’t satisfied with the status quo. They are constantly asking, “Why?” Why do we do things this way and not another? These questions lead to lasting, positive changes in the organization. They are often viewed by the CEO as innovative and future-focused, someone who can be trusted to lead and manage change.

Leadership Style 3: The Curious Storyteller

The curious storyteller is a leader who connects the dots among various points of information in an organization to grasp and shape the big-picture store. This is the leader who sees the forest for the trees and who rarely gets lost in the details. Instead, they can juggle multiple points of view and sources of information to deeply understand whatever problems need to be solved.

Leadership Style 4: The Value Creator

The Value Creator takes a logical, rational approach to leadership. This is the leader who prefers facts and figures, and who can understand the big-picture consequences of the data presented in a report. The Value Creator focuses on KPIs, metrics, and measurements, and can quantify the value they bring to organization whether they’re addressing the board of directors or a group of employees.

Maximize Your Leadership Style

As you can see, each leadership style is unique. Leveraging the unique strengths of each role is one way to make the most of your personal leadership style.

The Connected Influencer, for example, thrives on making and maintaining connections. This leader benefits from participating in peer groups, attending conferences, and networking to make new connections. By making new connections, such a leader can bring fresh ideas into an organization and develop a support network whenever they need it.

For moribund or staid organizations, the Disruptor may be the one to bring the fresh winds of change into the building. A nonprofit with a venerable history, but set in its ways, may find itself shaken to the core by a disruptor’s leadership style, but in the end, it’s like spring cleaning—unpleasant while it’s underway but the outcome is welcome. Disruptors may wish to look for positions that enable them to ask the right questions to make changes. Organizations that are happy with the status quo probably aren’t for you; ones that are willing to ask and answer important questions will love your leadership traits.

The Curious Storyteller can also be a change agent, but they can also support organizations in crisis by helping them see beyond the immediate situation and into the future. Their unique gift of connecting the dots for people and weaving it into a compelling story can give hope to an organization that is struggling or motivate teams to move beyond the present and into the exciting future.

Lastly, the Value Creator often works best when paired with a visionary CEO or others in the leadership team who need grounding. Because you bring value through careful, clear, and logical analysis, you can offset the more “big picture” thinking of the Visionary. Finding a Visionary you work well with is the key to using your strengths to your advantage.

Are There More Than Four Leadership Styles?

People are like diamonds—they have many facets. Yes, there are more than four leadership styles, and they can be characterized quite differently depending on where they originate.

If you’re curious about leadership styles, it’s a fun area of personal growth to explore. Each management school groups leadership traits differently, and the intersection of personal characteristics (such as those analyzed by a Myers-Briggs, Enneagram or DISC assessment) along with management style theories can help you understand the nature of your personality and how your strengths and weaknesses can be used to benefit your organization and those around you.

About Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

7 Tips to Become a Better Virtual Communicator

By | Corporate Culture, Nonprofit, Professional Development, Technology | No Comments

According to The Washington CPA, 70% of managers say they are more open to a flexible working model now than they were before the start of the pandemic. If any good came from the last two years of turmoil, it is that companies are now recognizing that employees can be as productive and responsive when working from home as they can when reporting to an office.

Given that the world isn’t likely to return to pre-pandemic work norms, it makes sense to focus on improving communication skills in a remote working environment.

Barriers to Effective Virtual Communication

There are several barriers that must be overcome when communicating virtually with team members. Virtual communications differ from in-person communication in several ways.

When people converse in person, they rely on body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice to convey deeper meaning than words alone can convey. Virtual communication removes these added layers of information-sharing and puts the emphasis on written words alone. Even with videoconferencing, some nuances are lost, and not all work can be shared effectively during video conferences.

Best Practices

The skills you’ve come to rely on for effective in-person communication differ from those needed for effective virtual communication. Here, we share several tips to help you become a better virtual communicator.

  1. Use technology to enhance communication: Most companies choose one project management system, one instant messenger system, and add email and videoconferencing to the mix. These four basic technologies cover most day-to-day needs. It doesn’t really matter which ones you choose, as long as you use them consistently.
  2. Set expectations and boundaries around technology use: Establish response timelines and share them via written documentation. For example, you may request that during the business week, all instant messenger communications and emails are answered within 24 hours or that the project management system is updated by a certain day of the week. Share these expectations and hold team members accountable for following through.
  3. Select specific channels for different types of communication: Instant messenger tools such as Slack and Skype are great for quick responses, but unsuitable for longer discussions. Learn when to use specific types of communications. Some good rules of thumb are:
    • Quick questions or updates: instant messenger channels
    • Project updates or information sharing: project management channels
    • Formal communication, reports, or updates: email
    • Brainstorming, team meetings, large briefings: video conferencing or conference calls
  4. Provide frequent feedback: Another important element to virtual communication is frequent, regular contact with team members. Providing regular feedback on project updates, messages, and initiatives is vital for effective virtual communication.
  5. Close communication loops: Don’t leave anyone wondering what’s going on. Along with frequent feedback, “close the loop” by ensuring you alert others when a task is complete, a project is finished, or a customer situation has been addressed.
  6. Write in a short, succinct, and direct manner: Since so much of virtual communication is conducted via typed or written words, it must be impactful. Avoid extraneous thoughts, off-topic asides, and trying to convey emotions via writing. Humor and sarcasm may be suitable for your personal communication but added to a business communication can seriously twist a message, often to the point where it can be misconstrued. Use shorter sentences, plenty of bullet points, and other written communication techniques to ensure shared understanding.
  7. Keep everyone informed: A good rule of thumb is to over-communicate rather than under-communicate. Include anyone who may need the information in an email as a Cc line, or forward information to team members who may need it.

As the world continues to embrace flexible work arrangements, more workers will demand the ability to work remotely. This is especially true as the so-called “great resignation” shows no sign of abatement. Offering virtual work options, flexible work arrangements, and telecommuting options allows you to hire outside of your immediate geography and find excellent candidates. But, in order to make it work, you and everyone else at your organization must improve your virtual communications. Become a whiz at that, and you’ll be set up for a strong future.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Update Your Nonprofit’s Career Development Programs

By | Nonprofit, Professional Development | No Comments

Career development? What career development program?

If that was your response to this article’s headline, you’re not alone. Many organizations have set career development programs on the back burner or never got them off the ground in light of the many challenges they’ve had to overcome during the past 18 months.

Career development programs are vital for attracting and retaining top talent. According to one report, 94% of employees say that career development programs are “very important” and a good reason for staying with a company. And, if you want to attract and retain younger talent to your nonprofit, 87% of millennials rank career development programs as very important to their decision to join and organization.

For those nonprofits who haven’t launched a career development program or who set it aside to cope with the challenges brought about by the pandemic, now is the time to rethink your organization’s training programs with an eye to keeping them going no matter what challenges the new year brings.

What Makes a Good Career Development Program?

Good career development programs share certain characteristics:

  1. Caters to all levels of the organization: Career development isn’t just for newcomers to the nonprofit world or those just entering the workplace. It’s for everyone. Good career development programs include specific programs for leaders, too.
  2. Involves virtual training: The new world of work means including your virtual team in training and development opportunities. Technology connects workers to your organization and can connect them to training and development opportunities. Seek out hybrid or virtual models that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
  3. Offers mentorships: One of the best ways to enhance career knowledge and skills is to partner with an experienced person in the profession. Mentorship programs provide an excellent opportunity for networking, skill development, and career growth.
  4. Focus on what employees want to learn: It’s not enough to offer professional development programs in matters that the organization believes employees should learn. Find out what your team wants and needs to advance their career development and find the right programs to suit them.
  5. Don’t forget fun too: All work and no play make Jack a dull boy, and it makes for a boring workplace. Career development programs should also include time for socializing and networking so that people feel connected to the organization, their teams, and their coworkers.

Focus on Virtual Career Development

Virtual career development opportunities must focus on overcoming the barriers to communication among virtual employees. This can be done through video calls, phone calls, instant messaging, and other technology that aids communication.

One thing to bear in mind when creating and launching virtual career development programs: frequent communication is very important to effectively include everyone on the team. Schedule weekly touch-base calls and consider partnering your virtual team members with experienced employees who can help them grow into their jobs.

Personal, one-to-one time is essential for virtual workers. Many refrain from asking questions in group chats or calls. Having time just with their mentor or manager to ask questions, even if it’s only 15 minutes a week, can help them ask what’s on their minds. These quick touch-base calls can take the place of visits in a physical office space where teammates often drop by an office or desk just to chat and can make people feel better connected to their team members.

Short, Frequent Connections Are Best

Career development isn’t “once and done.” It’s better to provide short, frequent programs than long, occasional ones, especially if using videoconferencing technology. People can become fatigued from too many video conferences. Keeping connections short, focused, and frequent helps keep professional development top of mind, rather than a chore.

When your organization prioritizes career development as part of its approach to personnel management, you can create a desirable workplace with better connections and teamwork. Not only will your employees be happier, but your organization will thrive, with more engaged and connected employees.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.