Yes, I admit it! I love New Year’s Resolutions…at least for the first few weeks. I’m always looking for the simple habit that will transform my life, or the time-management hack that will get me so much time, I’ll get tired of having so much free time in Grant Management!
Sound impossible? You are probably right. If it seems too good to be true it probably is, but there is strength in developing healthy HABITS-whether for yourself or your organization when it comes to grant management.
Charles Duhigg in his landmark book “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” wrote about habits as a loop consisting of a trigger, a routine, and a reward. He showed how changing habits can as simple as changing the routine that lies between the cue that triggers the behavior and the reward that we tells us to continue with the habit.
In that spirit, I have put together this list of seven ways to make grant management better in 2017 and yes, I am committed to changing my routine to solidify them as habits.
How about you?
1) Talk with More Grant Writers
Last year I spoke at the Grant Professional Association national conference in Atlanta. I was surprised how many grant writers also end up managing grants. I had mostly viewed the path of grant writing as separate from that of grant managers. And in my pre-conceptions, grant writers have been left out of many of the strategic conversations around how to use the changes in 2 CFR Part 200 to their advantage in the budget phase of the application process.
What changes in the proposal process could promote collaboration between grant writers and grant managers to improve and simplify the post-award tasks?
2) Talk with More Organizational Leaders
As I train and speak across the country, I am still amazed by the number of senior staff at organizations that don’t realize that they are now on the front lines to federal agencies in a whole new way. Whether we are talking about the new certification of costs that must be authorized by a level of management that can legally bind the organization, or implementation of the integrity assessment that could put an organization on the fed’s “naughty” list for five years, things have changed! I am committed to doing more to educate organizational leaders about areas that grant managers need help and support.
How could you incorporate a briefing or training of senior staff about the new responsibilities in the Uniform Guidance that would fit into their existing routines or staff meetings?
3) Quit Reinventing the Wheel
If I needed a spreadsheet, I would not start out by writing a program to create rows and columns. Likewise, I use the standard reporting format provided by the federal government to report on the budget vs. actual costs for various awards rather than creating a new format each time. Yet, for some reason when it comes to training, policies and procedures, and other educational materials, our normal routine is to open PowerPoint or Word and start creating things from scratch. Often times the trigger in this habit is the need for a corrective action plan due to audit findings or the desire to train new employees about something like our travel policy. In 2017, my new habit will include creating and sharing standard templates for common challenges we all face, like what makes a compliant Standards of Conduct policy or a presentation on how to use per diem in a travel policy.
What things are you preparing from scratch that you could quit inventing the wheel and use templates to get it done faster and more effectively?
4) More Networking Through Social Media
I am going to let you in on a little secret…I’m an introvert. Now that wouldn’t be so surprising when you think of me as a CPA, but as a speaker, trainer and presenter, being an introvert is not what most people think of with these skills. So when I needed to expand my network, the introvert in me rebelled. “But I don’t want to learn LinkedIn and you can’t make me tweet!” I knew my introvert aversion to the “social” part of social media was going to keep me from effectively building the network I wanted as a grant advocate. So I had to insert a new routine into the middle of another habit called “Morning Coffee” and soon my routine of growing my network through new social media channels was part of my regular routine with a minimum of resistance. And this year, I am expanding my Twitter presence to connect with even more grant professionals.
What one new social media tool could you add in the midst of an existing habit to grow your network?
5) Read the Terms and Conditions of the Awards
Grant writing and grant management are full of routines like submitting applications, preparing reports by specific deadlines, and reviewing costs and budget numbers. But one routine that is often overlooked is reading the terms and conditions of your awards. Now sometimes you have an awesome legal departments to do this, but too often, communication between the various stakeholders in grant management rely on others to tell them if there is something they need to know about the “T’s and C’s” of the award. Be proactive. Get educated. Insert a quick read of what you signed up for when you first get the Notice of Award (NOA) so you can understand ALL your requirements.
How will you get a copy of the award terms and conditions when the Notice of Award is received? Who can you ask to show you where the information lives?
6) Let Go of the Past
One of Lucy’s laws that I share in our Grant Management Boot Camp seminars is that nothing good comes retaining grant records that your aren’t required to keep. When someone finds records from ten years ago they aren’t looking because they want to give you a good conduct medal. So ensure you know what records need to be kept and for how long. Then let go of the past and get rid of the records you aren’t required to keep. Are you feeling lighter already?
Brainstorm on building a routine for record retention of paper and digital records that includes periodic destruction of records that now longer need to be retained. Make sure to include a reward for following this new routine. (Doughnuts anyone?)
7) Expand your opportunities
Multiple streams of income was a concept popularized by Robert Allen back over a decade ago. And whether you are talking about your career opportunities or funding sources, having your “eggs in one basket” is always a risky proposition.
I worked with an organization that only had one funding source. You can imagine the consequences when they lost their grant due to very public issues with senior management. The disruptions to the organization’s mission, let alone the lives of the program and support staff were devastating.
How could you build a routine to expand your opportunities such as adding ten minutes of research to your lunch hour? What other funding sources could support your organizational mission? What other skills would make you more valuable to your current or future positions?
Ready to Improve Your Grant Management?
How about you?
Would you like to be a better grant manager?
We have another grant management training seminar coming soon.
Click here to get all the details!
Hope to see you there!
Lucy Morgan CPA, MBA
CEO, Compliance Warrior
Author of “Decoding Grant Management-The Ultimate Success Guide to the Federal Grant Regulations in 2 CFR Part 200” The 2nd Edition is now available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle versions.