Friday, February 11, 2011

How NOT to Treat Your Grant Project Partners

I don't know about you, but I can learn just as much - sometimes more - from a bad example as I can from a good example.  I was in a grant partnership meeting this week and I witnessed a whole bunch of examples of how not to treat your grant project partners, so I thought I'd share some of those with you.

1. Don't throw one of your partners under the bus for your own political agenda. I'm speaking figuratively, of course.  I assume none of you would actually throw anyone under a bus. In a partnership setting, you need to remember that the value of your relationships with your community partners will extend far beyond the issue at hand.  It might seem expedient to make one of your partners look bad now so you can gain something, but in the long run, it's never a good idea and it almost always comes back to haunt you.  Besides, it's just not very nice.

2. Don't reprimand your staff in front of your partners. Any good manager knows that reprimanding staff in public is a lousy idea, but it can be particularly harmful in a partnership meeting.  If you don't have confidence in your staff, why should your partners? Maybe your grant partners are much more comfortable working with your staff than with you. In that case, reprimanding your staff in front of them will make them defensive. Again, it's just not very nice.

3. Don't spring big decisions on your partners at the last minute. Just like you need time to carefully consider important decisions before you make them, so do your grant partners. Don't show up at the meeting with a bunch of new and important information and expect a decision immediately.

4. Don't jump to conclusions. In a complex collaborative project, there are many interests.  Some of those are complementary and some are competing.  Unless you have been part of every conversation about a particular topic, don't assume you know everything that's going on.  You probably don't.  It's especially important not to jump to conclusions if you haven't been present for all of the regular partnership meetings.

5. Don't insist that the group re-discuss issues from last meeting because you didn't show up to the last meeting. If you are unable to make it to a meeting, you are responsible for getting the information and bringing yourself up to speed on things.  That may mean contacting your partners in-between meetings.  If you know that is an item on the agenda that is important to you, you should have a representative present who can speak to it on your behalf.

Building and nuturing partnerships is a complex task.  Months, even years, worth of work and trust can be shattered in an afternoon if you are careless about how you treat people.  Think of the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would like to be rteated and you will rarely go wrong.

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About Creative Resources & Research

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Woodland, CA, United States
Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.