Take some fantastic, well-intentioned charitable objectives.
Add a complex organisation.
Drive growth through mergers & takeovers so you have people from different cultures working hard to merge their mindsets, cultures and ways of working.
Adopt a resourcing strategy which relies on, and aims to deliver, the best possible recruits from each of the third, private and public sectors. Who bring utterly different perspectives to work relationships, attitudes and ways of working. A real positive but also, at times, a real challenge for any manager (and let’s not forget that people are often promoted early into management in the sector).
Along the way attract amazing people who have a sense of ownership of said charitable objectives, who believe you when you talk about engagement being a priority, who are brimming with ideas which they want to see brought to life.
Tell people they can be involved but layer on a need for focus, to stop doing too many things, to drive for achievement of strategic goals.
Mix in a level of passion.
Then get something wrong in the employment relationship – either a silly mistake by a manager or un-met ambition or saying No to something which is important in the mind of the individual but not in the charity – which is now so large it simply has to run commercially and on corporate lines.
And what happens?
The tone around the dispute becomes fierce and the strength of feeling is ratcheted up. A disagreement which may well be more easily resolved in the corporate sector becomes a point of principle in a not-for-profit.
I have seen this on many occasions in the organisational dynamics of major charities. The sense of ‘deal broken’, of ‘you should be better than this for you are a charity’, is palpable.
And it leads to a propensity for really complex employee relations and some disputes which are hard to resolve amicably….harder than they should be, harder than elsewhere.
There’s an irony to this and it’s a clear ‘other side of the coin’ at times for charity leaders.
I see this from where I am sitting. Do you?