Patience, Communication, and Transition

In my first four weeks at the American Civil War Museum, I’ve realized that a lot of the inefficiencies that surface on a day to day basis point back to some of the organizational culture I touched on in my first post. Because of the museum’s size, each department is only comprised of a few people, so productivity largely depends on the personality, schedule, and workflow of each individual. For example, the Creative Services Manager has been on vacation the past week, so the new membership pamphlets relevant to my work are simply not complete. Even something as simple as a lack of materials can slow down the week’s work immensely. The administrator was unexpectedly out for a few hours while the new Grant Writer was setting up, so he simply had to wait out those hours before he could start working. In a monthly update meeting last week, our junior board expressed that their recent events hadn’t been as successful because they hadn’t received much guidance from the museum. This individualized style of workflow can be incredibly effective when we all work in tandem, but without appropriate communication, it often seems like nothing gets done.

 

As we continue without a Membership Manager, I’ve also found that all of the files I need (beyond the binder full of basic guides) are lost to my former supervisor’s haphazard organization. With the end of the fiscal year approaching, it’s been extremely difficult to accurately create and organize the necessary financial reports. Frankly, it seems like no one has taken the time to organize the files until Carter and I began interning. However, even with our help in organizing the development office’s files, office renovations have drawn what would normally be two days of work into a full week. Last week, I suggested that the museum adopt a more universal and accessible organizational calendar. It seems that we may need a more concrete cross-departmental set of deadlines and productive communication. While I understand that the museum’s size can limit the workflow to the two or three people in each department, it can still be frustrating when we cannot reach concrete deadlines across departments. For now, all I can offer is my time and patience in organizing the Membership Manager’s files and guides so that whoever takes up the position can more easily transition. Though the summer often seems to move slower, I would hope that our department meeting this week will result in more concrete, measurable projects and deadlines. As each department tries to succeed in tandem with the others, I will try and keep things on track as my supervisor’s position remains empty so that other departments may also meet their goals, despite the myriad of setbacks we’ve encountered. My hope is that other departments can understand the interdependence we all require to keep things running smoothly, and that the development office may require a bit more patience in the meantime.

One thought on “Patience, Communication, and Transition

  • August 1, 2019 at 11:05 am
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    It sounds like the size of the organization definitely creates challenges and I can imagine that it is frustrating for you (and others). Good to hear that you are comfortable making recommendations to your colleagues and/or supervisor about things that may enhance communication, etc.; that suggests that despite the challenges, the environment is pretty healthy. Knowing you were interested in non-profits, I think that this is giving you a sense of the challenges that many of them face; limited resources (human and physical), which impact productivity and many of the key functions (e.g. fundraising) necessary to keep the organization afloat.

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