Ep11. What does an ideal partner selection process look like? With Chris & Rhys

Chris and Rhys, Head of Technology and Services at Hart Square, take us through each stage of the ideal partner selection process. From their experience of running and being a part of numerous partner selections, they share the key elements you should consider at each stage, to ensure you select the right technology partner for you.


Find out more

If you would like to find out more about the perfect partner selection, attend our free upcoming webinar ‘A guide to partner selection – Whose role is it anyway?‘.


Managing Hybrid Teams

Earlier this year, we released our podcast on Adapting to working from home, and now here we are 6 months later, in a time where hybrid and asynchronous working are the new phrases of the moment.  

Over the past 18 months, many non-profit organisations have proved they are able to successfully operate whilst all employees work in different locations. As much as organisations have proved this to themselves, it has also created a change in employee expectations on how they are able to complete their work. As many organisations start to return to their offices, employees are now feeling some tension between going back to the office, to potentially be more collaborative and to benefit from human interaction, and working from home where they’ve developed an effective way of working which better balances their life and personal needs. What seems to be the emerging solution is the introduction of hybrid working. 

But what can hybrid working mean for you, your team and your digital project? Here are some of the key considerations we have identified for you to be conscious of whilst carrying out a digital project in a hybrid environment.  

Provide your team with the tools they need to succeed

Just as with full remote working, hybrid working requires virtual collaboration tools, asynchronous messaging apps and video meeting platforms, as well as structured information sharing tools and protocols. There are many communications, document and project management tools available, and you are likely to already have them in place.  

You do though need to re-assess what works best in a hybrid context, especially in respect of hybrid meetings.  

It is worth investing time to further understand the capabilities of these tools to help support your team and your project and to ensure that all members of the project team have an equitable voice and opportunity to contribute, regardless of their location. 

Set collaboration and communication best practices and policies

Communication is vital for any project to remain on track and be successful. But as teams work in different locations and are likely to be ‘available online’ at different times, clear communication could be challenging in a hybrid model. It can actually be harder to communicate and collaborate consistently in a hybrid environment, where some team members are together and sharing in person than it is when everyone is remote.  

Therefore, it is important to set best practice guidelines and policies to keep the team communicating. For example, you can set a timeframe for when teams should be available for progress meetings and have a standardised best practice guidance for which mode of communication should be used for each occasion. Similarly, you need to establish protocols for how to bring remote team members up to speed with the informal communications which may be happening within the onsite members. 

Provide visibility of the workload

Online project management is critical for hybrid teams. It enables visibility for the whole team on workloads and priorities as well as shared task lists with up-to-date task statuses. This allows team members to check-in and see the status of the project, and demands on their time, at any time, from any location. This visibility of the project provides insights into project blockers as well as areas they can move forward if they are waiting for feedback on certain tasks. Pre-pandemic, many project teams would have a central room or office with information posted on walls and maintained physically, it was a really effective model to help drive projects forward, but you will need to find a way to re-create that when not everyone is onsite all of the time. 

Tune into burnout

As many of us found when working solely remotely, working hours can so easily bleed into personal time and vice versa. The blurred boundaries between work life and personal life can easily lead your employees to burnout. This can be heightened if remote team members are being compelled to support full office hours alongside the more flexible working pattern they adopted, successfully, during the full remote working phase. 

To mitigate the risk of burn out it is important to discuss options upfront, openly, equally and honestly, and to establish a culture of balance. There are lots of ways to promote healthy working and wellbeing at work, for example, establishing ‘quiet hours’ where teams refrain from scheduling meetings or holding activities, ensuring flexible working patterns are respected when planning tasks, communicating updates and/or scheduling meetings. This can be supported by training dedicated to health and wellbeing, which is offered to all of the team. 

New routines can yield better outcomes

It is important to note that although the move to remote working presented challenges for many organisations and individuals, it revealed a lot about how individuals work best. For some, the flexibility which hybrid working can provide through changing traditional routines and hours may yield better work outcomes. It allows individuals to potentially achieve an improved work-life balance which in turn leads to an increase in overall happiness and results in them performing better and becoming more productive. 

Just as the move to remote working taught us so much, it is no doubt we will be continuing to learn lots more about our organisation and team throughout the hybrid working era. What matters now is to be in front of the situation, to embrace the opportunities and to mitigate the risks. This can be achieved by taking positive action, developing working practices as a collective, and drawing on the advantages which each scenario (in-person and remote working) offer. 

Ep10. What should a 21st century non-profit look like? With Allen Reid

In this episode, we are joined by Allen Reid, Director of Client Projects at Hart Square. We discuss the importance of digital strategy and why it is really all about the people. We also discuss the importance of empowering your team as well as the digital innovations we are seeing emerge in the non-profit sector.

A round-up of Hart Square Training Programme

In 2021, our experts here at Hart Square delivered two series of the Hart Square Training Programme: How to deliver successful projects. We created the training programme exclusively for non-profit organisations, to contribute to building digital and change capability.

Discover the impact of the Hart Square Training Programme in the infographic below.

Are you looking to deliver a successful digital project in your organisation? Attend our free upcoming webinars to hear from experts from across the sector as well as get guidance from the Hart Square Team. Discover all upcoming events

10 characteristics of a successful non-profit leader

The past 18 months have challenged everyone, especially non-profit leaders. Many have not only bought their organisation through the pandemic but also lead them through successful digital projects. But what qualities enable these successful leaders to achieve these feats?

Here are ten characteristics of highly effective non-profit leaders.

  1.  Adaptability

    • We talk a lot about the accelerated pace of change being driven by the digital age and exacerbated by the pandemic. As a leader, you need to maintain strategic objectives but be adaptable to circumstances when it comes to tactics
  2. Capable of navigating uncertainty

    • The pandemic reminds us that we can be at the mercy of unprecedented events; leaders negotiating a pathway through it for their non-profit have to be able to plan in a world of uncertainty, recognising that elements are beyond their control and ensuring they have contingencies and mitigations to offset unforeseen disruptions.
  3. Adept at building relationships

    • No one can claim ownership of a successful non-profit strategy, it takes an array of skills and experience. The physical distribution of workforces caused by the pandemic has enabled us to prove that we can build relationships and collaborate remotely, but more to the point that we need to collaborate. No successful leader is an island.
  4. Decisiveness

    • Timely decision-making is crucial to being successful, and there’s a delicate balance to find since the decisions you make will have consequences. The line to find is such that you don’t take too long to make decisions or you’ll miss opportunities, but you have to be confident in them.
  5. Flexibility

    • Aligned with the point about being decisive, you also have to find the balance with being flexible. Don’t shy away from changing your mind, that’s a sign of being adaptive and flexible, but you can’t change your decisions too often or you’ll appear indecisive and create uncertainty.
  6. Boldness

    • It’s not a time for the feint-hearted to deliver leadership, whether you’re driving change or resisting it you need to be committed and show the courage of your convictions. Sitting on the fence and waiting for the storm to pass just won’t cut it now.
  7. Engaging/charismatic

    • Being the voice of a non-profit means being able to share your passion in a concise and engaging way, with multiple audiences and demographics.
  8. Connected

    • Your non-profit’s ethos and success is driven by its cause; your employees, funders, donors, members are part of your world because they want to be associated with it so keep it at the heart of everything you do and connect your initiatives to the impact they have on your cause
  9. Understanding the need for Trust

    • Trust is another area that cuts both ways for a successful non-profit leader. It’s vital that you are trustworthy, that you cultivate people’s trust, that you live up to that trust in your actions, and that you reward people’s trust in you by being transparent and consistent.
    • Equally, you need to trust those around you; they’re there with you because they share the cause (see above) and because they choose to be there. That of itself tells you that they believe that you have shared objectives and that they can contribute, they have a role to play. If you lay claim to leading them then your responsibility is to understand where that trust is coming from and to harness that goodwill.
  10. Being open to influence, and critique

    • Don’t be too precious about your ideas holding sway, you want to encourage input from the experience all around you, and you need to be open to adopt or adapt suggestions where appropriate, then recognise and praise the source.
    • Similarly when you’re challenged or critiqued the mark of a true leader is to accept and embrace the challenge, to use it as an opportunity to make your case (respectful of the challenge) or to acknowledge the value of the different perspective and to negotiate a new approach or decision or direction in its light.

Five top tips for Project Sponsors

At Hart Square, we work with many different Project Sponsors, each with their own character, vision and leadership style that draws on their organisation’s values and structure.

The Sponsor plays a key role in the project’s lifecycle – they are the ultimate decision-maker, the project champion, and, as they may remind you, the one whose head rests on the block if the project fails.

With great power, comes great responsibility, but one would also argue that great learning comes too. What qualities do successful Project Sponsors share?
No matter the size of your project or organisation, here are some top tips for successful project sponsorship.

  1. Keeping the big picture
    As Project Sponsor you need to be able to cut through project ‘noise’ to make pragmatic decisions for the whole project.
    Avoid being pulled in the weeds of day to day project delivery – that’s why you have your Project Team. You need to retain your perspective so you can track overall progress, gauge when the project is excelling or stalling, and be ready to inject focus and momentum as the project demands.
  2. Trust your Project Team
    Empowering staff within a clear and agreed remit is essential to a proactive, engaged Project Team. Actively listen to their recommendations and create an environment which welcomes constructive challenges and recognises individual strengths and expertise.
    Consider how your Project Team refer to themselves within the project, are we in it together or is there a disconnect?
  3. Making clear what success means to you
    Is it hitting a certain deadline? Or is it not spending one penny over budget?
    Of course, we want projects to satisfy all elements of the cost, time, and quality trinity, but knowing your success statement and being upfront from the start sets expectations and focuses efforts. This is your cornerstone to refer to in the face of competing demands and decisions.
  4. A role model for failure
    The Project Sponsor has an essential role in communicating what failure is (or isn’t) and how we respond when things go wrong.
    Create a safe space for new ideas and approaches by speaking positively about trying, testing and learning – just because something has changed doesn’t mean the old way was broken. When things don’t go well, set the precedent and show how projects can learn from experience without aggressive finger pointing.
  5. Championing hearts and minds
    As well as inspiring the Project Team with your big picture, the Sponsor has a vital role in establishing the project’s profile and its alignment within the wider organisation.

Shorter, frequent updates on progress will reassure stakeholders and keep your vision at the fore. What are the 3 things you want staff to associate with the project when it comes up at the next budget meeting?

For more content like this join us at our all-new virtual chase.livestream conference from September 8th to 10th
Reserve your free place now at

Time for a new kind of leadership

If ever there was a time to move forward from command-and-control style management to a world where leaders inspire their people and, in business terms, their teams then surely this is it.

A cultural shift from management to leadership has been coming for some time, but let’s not just assume the reasons and benefits are clear to all. This is about far more than the semantics around different words, this is a reflection on modern ways of working, the desire for collaboration across organisations, where employee participation is fostered, engagement is nurtured and trust underpins employment.

From all directions, when you consider whether it is more productive, more efficient, more effective to put our heads together as equals, or to compete within flse hierarchies, surely there is only one conclusion to draw?

Who wants to work in an organisation where you can only do what you’re told to, in detail? Where is there any form of satisfaction to be had in just executing someone else’s ideas?

On that note, ask also how many new ideas can a stretched executive spin up, while trying to maintain operational delivery within good governance.

How many barriers to open thought do long-standing, senior employees have which more recent recruits are free of when they seek to innovate, when they dare to pursue the art of the possible unfettered by experience and failure.

To be dynamic, to grow, to be digital we need input from all corners of our organisations.

If ever there was a time to appreciate the value and perspective of every employee then it is now, and we need to keep this front of mind as and when we find a way through the disruption of the pandemic.

Let’s not talk of a return to normal, but of progressing to a new current state, informed by this experience, and celebrated by every one of us for we have all contributed to its achievement.


Interested in leadership best practice? Join us for chase.livestream from September 8th to 10th for more great insight. Register for free at



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