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Archive for the ‘CM Services’ Category

As a leading Association Management Company (AMC) we are often asked by prospective association client partners and volunteer leaders of associations, “What is the key to making an association successful?”.  They, understandably, want a ‘silver bullet’ or ‘easy button’ answer – something they can easily implement to make their association successful. 

The answer is easy.  Unfortunately, the implementation is complicated.  The key to association success can be found in one word – Members

Associations that are most successful over long periods of time have figured out how to engage their members continuously

So, if you agree with my premise, the next logical question is “How do you engage members continuously?”.  That’s the complicated part.  There isn’t a simple methodology that works for all associations because each association and even each member within each association is different.  Members have different reasons for being members; they have different goals; they have different interests. 

Associations used to be able to engage all or most of their members around a single issue impacting most or all members.  (Often government legislation or regulation helps with this).  However, these days with member interests being so diverse, one issue doesn’t necessarily make as great an impact as it used to.

These days, associations need to understand the interests and needs of their members, much the way a retailer understands their customers.  Associations need to collect data on their members and the interactions each member has with the association and then deliver products and services that meet the member needs.  But doing just this isn’t enough.  This doesn’t create real engagement with members.

In addition, associations need to create opportunities for their members to interact with each other and the association based on their interests and needs.  The interactions can be through large events, small meetings, online groups, committees, and more.  These interactions must be expertly planned and coordinated by the association and they must allow the members to contribute to and derive value from the content or create knowledge shared during these interactions. 

Members are the lifeblood of associations.  Without members, even with a good and noble purpose, associations do not exist.  However, over time we may begin seeing a shift in how associations are organized around their “members” – this shift is one more reason it’s so important for associations to be engaging their members now

One possible shift could be that associations will cease to have “members” as we know them now.  People and companies won’t pay annual dues to be a “member” of an association and then pay additional (though perhaps discounted) fees for certain engagements with the association.  Instead, people and companies will pay for what they want or need. 

By figuring out ways to truly engage “members” today, associations will be successful today and their success will be sustainable regardless of what changes the membership model for associations encounters over time. 

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Association Management Companies (AMCs) have been providing value to associations for more than one hundred years.  What kind of value do they provide and how do volunteer leaders determine the best model for their association – and if that model is the AMC model, how do volunteer leaders determine which AMC is right for them?

These are difficult questions to answer – especially for a volunteer leader who doesn’t have the expertise, time or resources to dedicate to find the right answer. 

So, in the spirit of former late-night host and comedian David Letterman, here are the Top Ten Reasons Volunteer Leaders of Associations Should Select an AMC (and specifically CM Services):

10.  Associations managed by AMCs outperform associations not managed by AMCs from a financial perspective.  Click here to review an article describing a 10 year study which supports this claim.

9.  Associations managed by AMCs realize significantly greater growth over time than associations not managed by AMCs.  Click here to review an infographic demonstrating this point   

8.  Associations managed by AMCs have the flexibility to adapt quickly to changes in their marketplace and redirect or redeploy resources necessary to achieve new or ever-changing goals. 

7.  Associations managed by AMCs receive the expert guidance they require for their specialized projects and activities. 

6.  Leaders of Associations managed by AMCs can focus on their organizational mission, strategies and related outcomes rather than managing employees and day to day activities. 

5. Associations managed by AMCs have more money to devote to membership programming and adding value to members as a result of the efficiencies and leveraged resources brought to bear by AMCs.  In fact, when reviewing the American Society of Association Executives Operating Ratio Report, associations managed by CM Services spend on average 10%-20% less on the resources to manage their association as a result of these efficiencies and leveraged resources.

4.  CM Services’ Core Values mean CM Services creates long term relationships with our client partners and employee partners.  They are: 

  • We put our client partners first
  • Integrity in all we do
  • Expertise in the industries/professions we serve
  • Collaboration to achieve best results
  • Deliver innovative solutions for our client partners
  • A team based work environment that is fun

3.  CM Services was one of the first companies worldwide to achieve Charter Accreditation by the AMCinstitute.  Achieving AMCi Accreditation means CM Services has demonstrated its procedures meet or exceed the best practices documented in an ANSI standard for Association Management Companies.  It also means CM Services passes an independent audit of its procedures every four years.  CM Services is dedicated to continuous improvement of its proven practices. 

2.  CM Services has a proven process to assure our client partners succeed.  The process includes developing strategic and operational plans for our client partners and keeping the Board focused on achieving those plans. 

And the Number 1 Reason Volunteer Leaders should select CM Services as their AMC:

1.  CM Services’ Three Uniques – What makes us different than all other Association Management Companies –

  • Focused on our client partners’ results – we invest ourselves in your industry and make sure you are achieving your goals
  • Consensus Builders – we help your members make decisions through consensus
  • Client Recognized Superior Customer Service – highest Net Promoter Score among Professional Services Firms

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We can likely all agree that in business cash may be King but accountability is next in line for the throne. 

In our businesses if we don’t establish Strategies, Goals and specific, measurable Objectives we hold ourselves and each other accountable for achieving, we will not achieve our mission.

Associations are no different – except that associations are led by volunteers.  Everyone knows you can’t hold volunteers accountable right?  WRONG!

This is the biggest mistake we see associations make every day.  However, it’s an easy mistake to make because of the nature of volunteer leadership.  Volunteers have “real jobs”; volunteers have families, volunteers have other interests AND volunteers aren’t getting paid to do their “Association job”. 

What are some things that can be done within the association framework to change this paradigm and create accountability?

  • Staff and volunteer leadership both need to make sure the association has SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Timely) goals aligned with the association’s mission.
  • Each SMART goal MUST have a person responsible for making it happen.  (Note:  This person doesn’t have to do all the work but is the person RESPONSIBLE for making sure it is accomplished by the deadline). 
  • At each meeting (committee, board, staff, etc.) SMART goal status should be shared.  If a goal is falling behind its scheduled deadline, that should be reported and discussed.  If changes are appropriate, they should be made and documented.
  • Between meetings, staff MUST follow up with volunteers who have been assigned responsibilities.  The purpose of the follow up is two-fold.  First to make sure the volunteer understands his/her responsibility and the task at hand.  Second to make sure the task is being addressed and an appropriate status report will be given at the next meeting.
  • Between meetings staff MUST report to the chair or appropriate volunteer leader on assignments for which they’ve been given responsibility.  This will help hold staff accountable for their responsibilities as well.
  • During meetings it’s likely that additional tasks will be identified.  It is the responsibility of the staff and chair of that meeting to clearly articulate the new tasks at the end of the meeting and make sure they’ve been made SMART and have a responsible party assigned to assure their implementation. 

Following these simple guidelines for holding staff and volunteers accountable will help your association be more productive and encourage a healthy environment between and among the volunteers and staff who are all working together to achieve the mission of the organization.   

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I’ve often wondered if I could be a better leader if I was less connected to email, google, news feeds and apps through my smartphone.  I try not to be rude about my smartphone use.  I try hard to not check it during business meetings or when I’m in a conversation with someone else.  I was particularly struck by our connection to smartphones the other day during a family meal.  We were having a conversation.  I looked away from the table for a second and when I turned back EVERYONE in my family had their head down looking at their smartphone.  This was frustrating and eye opening.

I decided to document the number of times per day I check my phone and the approximate amount of time per day I spend engaged with my phone and not the people around me.  Here are the results:

  • I check my smartphone approximately 14 times per day.
  • I spend approximately one hour per day checking email, calendar items, news, weather, etc on my smartphone

Those numbers don’t sound so staggering.  They’re significantly less than most people.  However, the fact remains that time could be spent engaging people in face to face conversations to solve problems, create opportunities, or just make people around me feel valued.

I wondered if many business leaders disconnect themselves by not having smartphones or not using them during certain times.  Guess what – some do!  Here is an article by Sheldon Yellen, CEO of BALFOR about that very topic.

Technology has improved our lives in so many ways.  I wonder though if there isn’t a case to be made for improving quality of life and productivity by stepping back from some technology.

I challenge you to measure how many times per day you use your smartphone for activities other than phone calls and how much time that takes.  Then try to spend a day without the smartphone and see if your quality of life and productivity in business is affected.

That’s my next step!  I’ll let you know if I’m brave enough to do it and what the results are.

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We’ve all seen them.  Some of us have written them.  I’m talking about lists…not grocery lists or to-do lists.  I’m talking about the tenets of leadership lists.

I love reading other people’s tenets of leadership lists.  I like what those lists allow me to learn about the people who wrote them.  The lists give a real insight into the kind of leader these people are.

I’m constantly working on my tenets of leadership list – I hope you are too.  I’ll share a few of my tenets here.  However, I encourage you to read two other recent blog postings I’ve read to see what others think are important leadership tenets.  The first is 16 Ways to be the Leader of Choice.  Interesting title for that blog.  I must admit I really like a few of these tenets (some of which closely align with some of mine).

For example:

  • Choose meaningful goals.  I suppose this is obvious.  However, if a leader’s goals aren’t meaningful, who will follow them?
  • Respect others.  Absolutely critical in leadership.  The caveat is you can’t ask for or “demand” respect.  You have to earn it.
  • Sacrifice for the benefit of others.  I love this one.  Putting others first is one of my tenets.
  • Have enough ego to aspire to leadership but not so much that you forget leadership is about service.  I laughed when I read this.  Not because I don’t agree with it – I do.  But I just thought of all the “leaders” I have known who were egomaniacs and thought leadership was about being served, not serving others.

The other leadership blog I read recently was about former North Carolina basketball coach, Dean Smith, who passed away this week.  I have always liked North Carolina basketball.  Perhaps it was because of Michael Jordan and that unbelievable shot he made as a freshman in the National Championship game.  Or perhaps it was because Dean Smith attended the University of Kansas, my alma mater, where he learned basketball from the best ever – Phog Allen.  Read the blog posting here.  I think you’ll agree Dean Smith was a great coach, mentor, and leader.

So, what are some of my leadership tenets?  Here are a few:

  • Always do what’s right.
  • Put others before yourself.
  • When possible, lead by example.  When not, don’t lead.
  • Be a caring servant of others every day.
  • Commit yourself to your goals.

They are still a work in progress.  I hope you find some you can use.

 

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NBA great and Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley once famously said, “I am not a role model”.  I like Sir Charles and even can understand his point to a certain extent – I think he was trying to let parents and teachers know that they have daily interactions with children and should be their role models.

Unfortunately, Charles was wrong and so are many leaders.

You see, whether he liked it or not, Charles was in a leadership position.  He was and is a leader of his family, he was a leader on his team, and as a high profile professional athlete, he was a leader of young athletes everywhere.  As such, it was and is his responsibility to set a good example – to be a role model.

I read a great blog posting on the topic of leaders as role models recently.  Click here to read it.

The posting points out that no one is perfect and even the best leaders occasionally aren’t the best role models.  Nonetheless, when in a leadership position, every action you take (or don’t take) and everything you say (or don’t say) is seen and heard by your team – by those you lead – they deserve your very best.

So this blogger had a list of the six “saboteurs” of being a positive role model:

  • It’s what you were taught
  • Just this one time
  • It’s easier
  • It’s faster
  • You’re frustrated
  • It feels good to let off a bit of steam

I know I’m not always a great role model – and therefore probably not always a great leader.  However, understanding that as a leader I am a role model is vital.  What great leaders do is find ways to make being a positive role model a habit.  And habits are hard to break.

 

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I came across a great blog posting recently related to – you guessed it – Leadership.

What a cool story this blogger has to tell about their grandfather and the 20 Mantras of Great Leaders he developed through a business and teaching career.  Read the full post here.

I think my three favorite (maybe the ones I connect best with) are:

1.  Followers choose leaders they trust, respect and feel comfortable with.

(Those values of trust, respect or responsibility and caring really resound with me)

2.  Be yourself.

(People know when someone is phony and they won’t respect and trust that person. You can only be an effective leader when you are yourself.  Just because you might be a different leader than others, doesn’t mean you aren’t a leader)

3.  Integrity is the bedrock of effective leadership.  Only you can lose your integrity.

(This couldn’t be more true.  Great leaders have integrity)

These three “Mantras” of leadership are things I strive to live up to daily.  Which ones do you find important?

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