Coming in new to a managerial job can be daunting, but starting out in an area that is virgin territory for nonprofits or that has serious long-range problems can be especially intimidating.
In the book “Tapping Philanthropy for Development” edited by Lorna Michael Butler and Della E. McMillan, Butler, Dorothy Masinde and Robert Mazur offer insight on the challenges faced by a newly hired manager for the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL) program, a public-private partnership meant to address the root causes of rural poverty in Uganda.
They wrote that experience has shown that a newly hired manager is likely to face the following six problems during the first year of program implementation:
- Getting to know the principle partners and their expectations for the partnership.
- Developing new networks to develop resources for the program. The most valuable program collaborators usually emerged through personal networks.
- Linking the program to the lead partner and funders. Out of necessity, the manager might be the key individual to bring partners together.
- Protecting the program’s core mission from well-intended but potentially incompatible new projects. These new projects can entail logistical and resource requirements not factored in the original plans.
- Opening the partners’ eyes to new opportunities and constraints that could impact the program. This can include finding people who are better qualified than the original personnel.
- Backstopping program management without directing. This can very much be a trial-and-error process.