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by Jamie Bearse   |   April 5, 2019

Three Secrets to ZERO’s Organizational Health

It was the busiest time of the year but there I was wearing a blonde wig and wielding a hammer. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and at ZERO, we hosted 25 run/walks over a 40-day stretch. Despite our grueling schedule, we found time to dress up as superheroes during staff meeting. And I was Thor.

That’s when I knew we’d hit all our goals toward helping men and families fight prostate cancer. I was surrounded by a team of stunning colleagues incredibly focused on making impact for patients but able to have a little fun in the face of hectic days and the sobering seriousness of prostate cancer.

That’s just a small example of what has kept ZERO among The Nonprofit Times’ “50 Best NonProfits to Work for” for the last six years. This year’s rankings are out and ZERO has made the top 10 for the last three years. It’s not just a terrific place to work, our impact in the prostate cancer space is unparalleled. Charity Navigator, a watchdog group measuring nonprofit impact, gives ZERO a four-out-of-four-star rating; as 84 cents of every dollar goes right to programs.

Showing the love to patients and families is in our DNA. Most of us have had families affected by cancer in one way or another. We’ve also had some terrible jobs and learned there’s a better way to run a business. Feeling empowered is a fundamental human need. It enables us to overcome life’s challenges and elevates our role in making the world a better place. At ZERO, we created a culture where everyone feels ZERO’s success in helping patients is dependent on each one of us and our roles. We strive to recruit and retain a stunning colleague in every position that makes everyone around them want to be a better person.

When you have an organization where everyone commits to self-reflection toward being the best teammate possible, something amazing happens – you’ve got colleagues who trust one another to have a high-level of responsibility for your shared success. And teammates who take on high levels of responsibility, earn high levels of freedom to take the time they need to recharge; finding invigorated purpose.

Here are three things that have helped put ZERO in the Top 50 Nonprofits to Work for while being continually recognized as excellent stewards of our resources that you can bring your organization or company:

1. Put people before ones and zeroes. Too many leaders brush off the importance of empowering the people around them to create a healthy organization. They believe themselves too smart or too busy to bother with it. Take the time to understand how your teammates think and process and match their strengths with the tasks most important to the organization. Take Away: When you fall down in life and pull yourself back up again, be the hand that reaches out and lifts the next person up and say, “Let me show you the way.”

2. Meeting Centrality. There’s an amazing firm called The Table Group and they talk about avoiding meeting stew where we throw analysis, metrics, tactics, strategy, brainstorming, and everything else into the same meeting. At ZERO, we commit to daily check-in meetings to share information, tactical meetings to rally around what’s most important, and staff meetings designed specifically to inspire. Take Away: When you step into a meeting, have one thing that’s more important than anything else and have everyone report off of that.

3. Stop PTO and Junk the Reviews. Stop tracking people’s time off and waiting until the end of the year review to give feedback. Instead, inspire your team to be their best and to achieve work-life balance. Set a standard of behavior and achieve alignment on your values. Take away: You’ll retain high-performing team players who take personal responsibility for putting the organization in the best position to succeed.