Dear everyone,

For weeks now the fiancée and I have been trying to plan our wedding. By “we,” I mean Jameelah, and by “planning,” I mean Jameelah coming up with some sort of idea and me furrowing my brows and muttering stuff like “Party favors? What are party favors?! I don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ no babies, Miss Scarlet!” Then I’d claw at my face and run screaming into the darkness.

So that’s the update on the wedding planning.

Work has been going well, and by well, I mean it’s been driving me a little nuts. I learned from a recent workshop that there are four basic personality types when it comes to work. To simplify things, I’m going to distill these personality types into the Dove, Owl, Peacock, Eagle (DOPE) model:

  • Dove: Likes peace and harmony; hates interpersonal conflicts; good at stabilizing things; can be indecisive.
  • Owl: Likes data and processes; hates chaos and lack of structure; good at getting things right; can be argumentative.
  • Peacock: Likes being around people and being the center of attention; hates boredom and solitude; good at connecting to people; can be unfocused.
  • Eagle: Likes action and movement; hates over-planning and delays; good at getting things done; can be impatient.

Think about the people you work with and see what kind of DOPE they are, and what you are. In the office, we have several owls, and they can’t stand the peacocks. The eagles, meanwhile, can’t stand the doves or the owls. One staff who is an owl complains that the peacock staff plays music too loud and that his random bursts of singing is distracting, so she would rather work from home, and she ends up arriving late for work and leaving early a lot. The peacock, meanwhile, thinks the owl is cold and unapproachable and no fun, and that it’s not fair she gets to work from home often. The owl thinks it doesn’t matter that she works from home or is late, as long as she gets her work done on time, and she looks down on the peacock because he sometimes drops the ball on things. The peacock, however, has put in long hours and is charismatic, so that brings in lots of partners and community goodwill. The one eagle in the office is fed up with everything and seems rude sometimes. I realize that I’m a dove, so I’m a pretty good listener but can be indecisive until I hear everyone’s opinions, so they end up coming to me to complain about the others, to the point where I just want to grab them by the collar, knock their heads together, and say, “You’re adults! Find a way to work out your differences!”

This is arguably the toughest part of running a nonprofit. It is just easier to write a 30-page grant for $95,000 than to mediate personality clashes. It keeps me up at night, thinking that one of these days I’ll come to the office and there will only be piles of beaks and feathers because an all-out war broke out.

Thoughts? Advice? What should I do? I’m going nuts. Everyone loves the mission and does good work, and I like them all, but they don’t all get along. Vote now:

  1. You should have a staff retreat, with candles and blindfolds and trust exercises and everyone sings Kumbaya around a campfire. Retreats solve everything.
  2. Build a battle cage and lock all the disgruntled staff inside and not let them out until they either settle their differences or else fight to the death.
  3. Fire them all and hire migrant workers.
  4. Fire all the DOPEs except for doves, because doves are cool and always get along with each other.
  5. Have a “Survivor”-type of competition where each week, a staff will be voted off the company. As a staff leaves, divide up his/her work responsibilities with the remaining staff.
  6. Switch over to the business field instead of nonprofit, because people in corporations get along better.
  7. Build a time machine, go back in time, warn self about the challenges of running a small nonprofit, buy a hundred shares of Google, come back to present.

Let me know what kind of DOPE you are and what I should do. I think I need a Trader Joe’s bar of chocolate.

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