Part Two – Unique aspects of managing after school programs

Excerpts from Part Four of ‘Mastering Your Role as a Nonprofit Manager in the 21st Century’.

” Oversight and joint management.

• There is an oversight role for the institution’s on-site managers. This is due to the agency’s after school program having an on-site (recipient of service) manager to whom the agency’s staff are accountable.

In the case of afterschool programs it’s either the principal or staff the principal identifies as the school liaison.

It is a Best Practice for the after school site manager to have professional relationships with all administrators, teachers and key staff and to have positive, engaged connections with after school site staff (agency, school). Ongoing regular communications that include a focus on problem identification and are solution oriented are a best practice example for this section.

The agency’s on site senior manager should work to maintain partnerships with all the school’s administrative staff. Since the same principals may not be at the site (replacement, retirement) each year.

New principals may not have experience with and an understanding of the nature and the afterschool program at that school. Without these other administrative relationships, the site manager becomes the primary advocate for the program’s ability to continue at the school.

Chain of Command. To be effective, managers need to have clear understanding of principal v. agency manager’s roles related to the after school program at the school, to minimize conflicting messages to agency and school staff.

This can be addressed in any partnership agreement/M.O.U. but it is the responsibility of the site managers to ensure clear, consistent communication and accountability issues are identified and addressed quickly. Any significant delay in responding to these types of concerns may negatively impact the agency’s ability to provide programs/services to the school site.

As an example, principals will usually have the authority to remove any program from their site. While the specific process will vary in different districts, the agency providing services to the school must understand that they have been invited and can be uninvited by the principal”.

After school site manager’s external partnerships.

I believe that critical thinking and thought leadership opportunities are present for managers of after school  programs.

One example of these partnerships is the contracting for activities for the three main components (academic, recreation and enrichment) of after school programs.

After school site managers have an the ability to engage the community as they shape the projects and activities that are provided through the after school program.

One big picture question for these managers is ‘ what is their vision for these connections and partnerships’?

Understanding your managment philosophy along with your vision can provide you with a foundation as you ‘work out the details’ and craft your approach.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on this…

The advent and impact of after school programs on the nonprofit sector

To put this topic in context I believe it would be helpful to understand the evolution of nonprofit organizations’ afterschool programs as part of Out of School Time (OST) initiatives.

Part one of a two part series.  aa3_pa_parents_want

The following are exerpts from my manuscript: Mission Driven Management. Mastering Your Role as a Nonprofit Manager in the 21st Century.                                                                      

What are the goals of out-of-school time programs?

Out-of-school time program goals and content can vary considerably, but generally most programs seek to engage youth and provide learning, enrichment, and leadership opportunities designed to support their academic success and overall development”. (United Way – Out of School Time Kit)


A bit of related history.

The earliest iteration of formal out of school time programs (circa early 1990’s) focused on latch key students and the need for some organized effort to provide them with a safe space between 3 – 6 PM. At the local level, school districts and their nonprofit partners had to address the unique concerns of the parents and the community surrounding each school site.


The evolution of the OST field.

OST programs made an important shift with the creation of a new federal government initiative: the 21st Century Community Learning Center legislation.

Impact of this funding/program shift on the nonprofit sector.

The evolution of the afterschool field has created a demand for new workers, an increased role for government (primarily school districts and city/county organizations that focus on education and social services) and a ‘cottage industry’ of training, consulting and evaluation organizations.

One of the results of this ‘cottage industry’ phenomenon included the creation of national organizations designed to look at the Big Picture. These government agencies and national organizations began to focus on quality control issues and the creation of standards for best practices (including certification and credential/certification efforts).


Workforce standards and the OST field.

School districts, county offices of education, city government (primarily social service agency funding nonprofit sector organizations) have to varying degrees begun to establish quality control standards, best practices and training projects for after school programs and staff.

 Based on past history I believe that the establishment of credentialing and certificate requirements for direct service after school staff will eventually become an requirement that agencies and managers will have to address.


Challenges for agencies providing after school programs.

After school agencies and programs are affected by the same economic model as the nonprofit sector (as a whole). In general, staff in the nonprofit sector are paid less than their counterparts in the public and for profit sector. In the after school field this economic reality is exacerbated by the staffing patterns established by many providers.

Given the fact that after school programs generally operate from (approximately) 3 – 6 PM, direct service staff positions are frequently part time. Often these part time positons do not include the benefits provided to full time staff. Part of the reason for this is that funders (especially the government actors) establish re-imbursement rates that don’t give after school agencies the capacity to provide benefits to these part time staff.


Management challenges.

For managers of after school programs the challenge of fully staffing their direct service positions is ever present. Due to the economic realities a majority of after school programs are understaffed and/or staff have other jobs to pay their bills. Even with the additional of ‘on call’ or ‘floater staff, managers of many programs struggle to keep their programs fully staffed throughout the year.

Effective planning (e.g. having on call staff available to cover gaps) is essential. However even with on call staff, managers often find themselves covering for absent staff. This `fact of life’ is universal and its impact on managers is problematic, since time spent covering direct service responsibilities is time away from their management responsibilities.

Maintaining a fully staffed workforce is especially important in after school programs because they often require a specific student to staff ratio, which must be maintained on a daily basis.

It is my belief that the inclusion of certification/credentialing requirements for these part time staff will only add to the difficulty of organizations (and managers) to recruit and retain direct service staff.


Coming soon: Part two – Some unique aspects on managing after school programs

Transitioning to Management

This post includes excerpts from Part Two of my manuscript (working title: Mastering Your Role as a Manager in the 21st Century).

“There will be personal and professional issues that arise during the transition.

Strategies to address these issues include some of the following Key Concepts:

• Your vision of your role as a manager will provide you with a framework to address the intra/interpersonal dynamics at play during the transition period.

• The context of the situation will impact your management actions.

• Your personal/professional relationships will change.sink-or-swim-supporting-the-transition-to-new-manager-webinar-042414-9-638-e1560239628435.jpg

To assist you in making the transition to management here are some questions that can jump start the process.

1. What are factors in making an effective and satisfying transition?
2. What’s new?
3. What are the opportunities?
4. What are the challenges?
5. What are your concerns?



It may be an easier task for new managers to assess their need to build up their skill sets than to attend to the intra/interpersonal aspects of the transition.

This may be due in part to the fact that we often don’t know the emotional/ psychological impact of a situation until we experience it. Assessing our ‘emotional intelligence’ and our capacity to be introspective and reflective can be more difficult because it is a very subjective process.


Management role(s).

As a new manager there are a number of issues you’ll be addressing that weren’t part of your previous direct service responsibilities.

Managers will be responsible for oversight, supervision of staff and possibly programs, they will have administrative tasks (reporting, budget oversight, etc.) and often need to represent the agency in the community and with funders.

Since it is fairly common for folks to be promoted from within the agency, it is possible that you as a new manager will be supervising people who were formerly your peers. This section will explore the issues related to that situation.


Some elements of my management philosophy that are relevant to this section:

• Management is relational.

• Staff roles are interdependent; each one relies on the other to be successful.

• Every role in the organization is essential to its success.


Promoted from within: Managing staff who were your peers

Special focus in this section. If you are a new manager in your organization, and are now managing staff who were previously your peers/colleagues, there is an additional dynamic coming into play. To begin that exploration, there are some questions you can ask yourself:


• What will happen to your professional/personal relationships with these folks?

• What if any resistance may you encounter, how should you address the resistance?

• What might make you uncomfortable about your new professional relationships?


By asking yourself these questions you can begin to identify the types of issues you may face as a new manager.


A ‘best practice’ orientation for new managers. As the manager it is your job to work with the staff you have, rather than the staff you prefer.


What will happen to your professional/personal relationships with these folks?

Your relationships with your former peers will change. There are positive and negative elements to the changes that will occur. It is important to understand the why and how.

The ‘why’ is because as a manager you now have organizational authority, and the ability to impact on your former peers work life more directly than you did as their co-worker. There is now a ‘power dynamic’ present in all your interactions.


Power and Authority in the Workplace.

Given the presence of this power dynamic, one recommendation is for you to examine your views regarding power/authority in the workplace.

This is one issue that calls for you to do some thinking about how you feel about being in an organizational position of authority and subsequently how you ‘hold’ that power.

This is an intrapersonal issue, one that will more than likely continue to evolve. A related topic on management styles (how you implement your management tasks) will be covered later in Parts Two and Three.

However you are now at the beginning of understanding this in the context of your new position, so give yourself some space and explore it through self reflection and reading literature on the issue.

There are other elements of the power dynamic that are relevant (ex. as seen through a gender or racial perspective). In addition to addressing the different dimensions of this dynamic in our workplace, this issue is of particular importance to the nonprofit sector because the communities we serve often have firsthand experience with the same power dynamic.

It might be helpful to call on your personal/professional network to support your investigation.


One example on how to manage potential negative elements of the transition.

As the manager you have the ability to set the agenda for any discussions related to how you and the staff can work cooperatively to address any concerns that arise during the transition process. This ability provides you with great latitude to pick the process you think is appropriate to the situation.

Management ‘best practice’. Handling staffs’ criticism of you as manager.

I’ve experienced being criticized by staff I supervise and have developed a response that has worked for me.

Constructive criticism. When a circumstance arises where criticism (towards me) is being voiced, I share with staff my preferred approach to receiving criticism. My premise is that staff (including myself) has the right to describe what they may need from other team members in order to fully engage in the current discussion.

I mention that I’m open to hearing any criticism they may have if:

o The criticism is designed to be constructive.

o The criticism can be shared in a way that supports maintaining trust and openness.

o The criticism is framed so that it conforms to the ‘norms’ the staff and I have created to guide how the team will do its work.

This approach has allowed staff to express themselves and it re-enforces the guidelines for resolving potential conflict in a positive proactive manner. It is also aligned with my core beliefs (management philosophy) on team building.

I developed this response to being challenged by addressing my initial reactions to a situation where a staff person was being disruptive in a staff meeting. I began by reflecting on why I took the challenge personally.

It’s not easy to always think/respond objectively, some things will affect you on a personal level. I needed to understand why it made me defensive and how I could be more proactive and learn whatever the lesson of this situation taught me about myself.

I realized several things.

1. You don’t have to react to criticism (or any disruptive actions) in the moment. It may be a ‘one off’ situation. If it’s not, it will happen again. If you take the time to reflect on the situation (your core values on this issue can be a guide for you) you can decide how to respond the next time it happens. This will give you time to have a thoughtful response and potentially defuse the situation.

2. If the situation occurs in a staff meeting the other staff will be paying attention to your response. It will provide them with some insight into your management style.

Even if it doesn’t happen in a public setting, the word will get out to other staff, so be mindful that your ‘audience’ is not just the staff who engaged in problematic behavior.

3. You are the team lead and can set the agenda for any staff meeting. This includes setting the tone for how staff are expected to interact with each other (and you).


What if any resistance may you encounter, how should you address
the resistance?

Change can be hard, especially if it includes personal/professional relationships. Everyone responds differently. The key is to understand the implications of the change and its impact on the individual(s)”.


I’d be interested to hear any thoughts you may have (when you were a new manager) on this post.

Does the content from these excerpts raise any questions?

How have you navigated your transition?

Do you have any ‘lessons learned’ you care to share?








Mission Driven Management: The Role of the Nonprofit Manager in the 21st Century


One goal of this blog is to engage people in topics related to our work in the nonprofit sector that we don’t often have the time (or energy) to explore; and to share your thoughts, questions and comments. Hopefully we can make some positive connections and learn from each other’s experiences and ideas!

This inaugural blog will introduce Third Sector Solutions’ concept of Transformational Management.

The concept of transformative management is outgrowth of my belief in the role of the organizations of the Nonprofit Sector to be agents of change for the communities they serve; and that management staff are key contributors to the success of their organization’s vision and mission.


To begin exploring this topic I’m including excerpts from my manuscript (working title: Mission Driven Management: The Role of the Nonprofit Manager in the 21st Century – Transformational Management in Action)

“A bit of related history: The social change movements of the 1960’s  (civil rights, anti- War, the Women’s movement, the LBGT community, and the Farmworkers, to name a few) had a tremendous influence on the re-imagining of the nonprofit sector, which changed significantly with important financial support and organizational development assistance by the Johnson Administration’s Great Society initiatives. A prime example of this is the Community Action Programs/CAP, founded by the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act to fight poverty by empowering the poor as part of the War on Poverty.

Many of the nonprofit organizations that were created during this time of mass movements advocating social change continued the work of these social action movements at the local community level.

Nonprofit agencies’ social change missions have evolved to provide a wide range of services to a broad spectrum of people and have become significant contributors to the economy of their communities


Managers as agents of change.

Managers play a key role in supporting the agency’s mission and the organizational culture of the teams they supervise. Third Sector Solutions version of transformational management activities recognizes that ‘manager as agent of change’ can take many forms.

These include, but are not limited to: focusing on individual efforts to engage in social action, working with the teams they supervise to support staff initiatives in these areas, working with their organization to promote an activist role in addressing the quality of life issues that are part of the agency’s mission and engaging the broader community (through collaborations) to support social action activities.

Another reason for including this ‘manager as agent of social change’ focus is the recognition that a desire to have a positive impact on their communities and be part of an organization that has a social change mission is one of the reasons people work in the nonprofit sector.

The reality is the daily work of managers often becomes all encompassing, and the capacity of managers to also stay connected to their vision is muted. The tasks of supervising staff and program operations, budgeting, reporting, administering grants and contracts is labor intensive, and may leave little time and energy  for staff to support their ‘vision’ of what it is to be a manager who believes in being an agent of change”.


So the question is: How to attend to all these tasks and stay connection to your vision?

This blog is designed to begin a conversation and encourage people to share their challenges and how they found opportunities in their work to maintain their social change vision.

Each person will have their own strategy for accomplishing this. One approach I took was to identify what my vision of management included, and the recognition that I needed to understand my management philosophy.

Management Philosophy. This blog defines a management philosophy as a set of beliefs that will continue to evolve throughout your management career. It will create a foundation for your ‘best practices’ and can guide your development of your management skills.

Vision – one component of management philosophy.  In the context of developing your management philosophy, vision includes the manager’s ‘Big Picture’ perspective of their role in the organization. Creating this type of vision can provide you with a road map to achieve your personal/professional goals.

Developing your vision of management will provide you with an opportunity to explore how your core values (personal and professional) can align with and support your work. Your core values can provide you with some clarity on what to do in a situation when you may be conflicted about what action to take or decision to make.

It has been my experience that a developing a management philosophy is a work in progress, and it will evolve over time. New situations will emerge that will challenge some of the theories we have utilized to guide us. We need to be flexible and adapt to these new circumstances.

Best Practices. It is the establishment of professional standards of excellence, It is aligned with your values and vision and it continues to evolve as circumstances change.


Any comments, questions or different approaches to maintaining your change agent mission are welcomed.