We’re lining up on the runway, getting ready for Christmas take-off. You can feel the building stress in the crazy driving on the roads. We’re dealing with end of year celebrations, school and club events, present buying and holiday planning. That’s on top of nurturing our corporate partners and making sure they’re primed for the next ask.
In busy times we try to multi-task, but that’s a misnomer according to author Johann Hari. Our brains can’t actually do multiple things at once. Instead they perform lightning-fast micro switches between one task and another. But the brainpower needed to constantly switch drains our energy and we end up more tired and less effective at all of them.
Resilience is important for corporate partnership executives. It takes a lot of effort and lead time to win and develop a corporate partner. Here are some ways to keep you motivated and resilient along the journey:
Encourage your current corporate partners to share stories with you about what’s working for them and the impact of your partnership. Even better, get them to present to the team or your leadership and offer their insights. It’s not about gathering testimonials or case studies, although they’re valuable; you’re validating the effort that you and your colleagues have invested in the partnership. Ovarian Cancer Australia’s partner Wynstan recounted how they shared the charity’s information about cancer symptoms with their customer base. One customer instantly recognised their own health problems and was able to get to a doctor early enough for treatment. Sharing stories of the life saved or the life transformed will give you the motivation to persist with the partnership process.
Celebrating the small wins
It’s great to get a final yes to a big proposal, but they don’t happen every week. Instead, consider micro-wins along the way. That could be getting a meeting with a new prospect, the request for a proposal or making a pitch to their leadership team. I often create To Do Lists with lots of small items just for the satisfaction of ticking them off. The small steps are easier to achieve than a big, scary goal. The small things stack up and you’re on the journey to success without beating yourself up about it. Hosting 30 people for Christmas dinner is a big ask, so just get started by ordering the turkey.
Ask for help
The scarcity mindset in non-profits is so entrenched it seems almost heretical to say you need help. You can feel like Oliver Twist asking for more. But taking on every responsibility by yourself is a recipe for burnout not resilience. Make sure you are clear with your colleagues, your team and your leadership when you need their help. Partnerships are an ensemble act, not a solo performance. Build resilience by strengthening the allies around you. Otherwise you’ll be the one shopping on Christmas Eve and resenting the others who are kicking back with drinks and mince pies.
Lead for resilience
If you’re a leader, now is not a good time to introduce additional tasks for your team. Target setting should have been done months ago. Asking partnership managers to make more cold calls in the hope of random donations to beef up your Christmas appeal isn’t strategic or realistic. It’s like wandering into the kitchen when your partner is arm deep in stuffing the turkey and casually asking if she’s got any wrapping paper. If you want resilient teams, and to avoid being on the wrong end of a turkey baster, then make sure you’re continually checking in on what they need, where you can help and how you can remove barriers to their success.
We know that partnership executives are some of the most creative, courageous and innovative people on the planet. But you can’t do it all by yourself, so don’t give others the impression that you can or should. Resilience is a muscle that can be strengthened with some inspiration, self-care and well-timed support. Your partnerships will be more successful as a result.