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Archive for the ‘Volunteerism’ Category

Associations, companies and other organizations have been using conference and video calling to meet and conduct business for many years.  Most of us are very experienced with the process and have developed methods to be productive and polite when holding these “virtual” meetings.

During the last few weeks the sheer number of virtual meetings and volume of participants has grown exponentially.  Because of this increased use it seems some calls may be less productive than they should be and many of us have forgotten our virtual meeting etiquette.  Check out these videos of what some of your calls may be like:

A conference call in real life:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYu_bGbZiiQ

A video call in real life:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMOOG7rWTPg

It seems a good time to share the best practices for virtual meetings. 

Here are some to consider.  If you have additional best practices you think are effective, please feel free to add them by replying to this blog posting. 

  • Login to your call at least 10 minutes ahead of time to make sure your technology is working and you have time for any new updates to run before the call.
  • If a video call, make sure to view what your video looks like before the call begins.  Are you framed properly?  Is the lighting good enough so people can see your face? 
  • When entering the meeting, don’t just start talking.  Wait for an opening and say your full name clearly.
  • When you aren’t talking, leave your phone/computer on mute.
  • If you’re the chair of the meeting, make sure to start the meeting on time.  Time is precious and people who planned ahead and prepared for the meeting shouldn’t be made to wait for latecomers. 
  • Have an agenda for every call.  The best practice should be to share that agenda in advance with all participants.  If that’s not possible, share your screen and/or review the entire agenda at the beginning of the call so all participants understand what’s to be addressed during the meeting.
  • Clearly state the purpose/goals of the meeting at the beginning.
  • When you would like to talk, don’t just jump in.  Wait for a pause, then say, “This is Rick” and wait for the meeting leader to acknowledge you.  If you’re using a video call, you can also use the Raise Hand feature and wait to be acknowledged by the meeting leader before you speak. 
  • Keep your remarks brief.  Don’t repeat what others have said.  You can say, “I agree with Beth.  Additionally, I think …”. 
  • If you’re doing other things while on the call, freeze your video frame or turn video off so you aren’t distracting the other meeting participants.
  • When the meeting is concluding, the leader should summarize the actions taken and any assignments made.  If another call is necessary, plans for scheduling that call should be made.

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It’s the time of year again when many associations are implementing their nomination and election process.  Because associations are groups of people or companies in the same profession or industry there are many opportunities for conflict and other challenges as an association goes through its nomination and election process. 

To avoid challenges which can lead to bigger problems such as hurt feelings, dropped memberships, etc., it is important that every association have a clear nomination and election process and that the process is followed each and every time. 

Below are some suggestions you might consider including in your nomination and election process:

  • Have a nominating committee whose responsibility is to develop and/or review nominations.  The nominating committee could include a current leader, such as the president; a former leader, such as the most recent past president; and possibly a future leader, such as an engaged committee member. 
  • The nominating committee should work throughout the year to identify potential future leaders. 
  • The nominating committee should have discussions with potential future leaders to gauge their level of interest and commitment prior to nominating them. 
  • If the membership is engaged in the nomination process, the nominating committee should make sure ample opportunity and notice is provided to the membership. 
  • The nominating committee should assure the qualifications and responsibilities for nominees is clearly stated for the membership’s consideration. 
  • The association staff should be sure to remind the nominating committee of their responsibilities and the timing of the process several times throughout the year.  However, it is VERY important the staff be removed from the nomination process.  The staff should never be perceived as attempting to select future volunteer leaders for the association.
  • The nominating committee should consider several factors when evaluating potential nominees such as:
    • Experience in the industry or profession
    • Experience within the association
    • Level of commitment to the association and its mission
    • Is the nominee interested in the position for the good of the association or themselves
    • Is the nominee willing to listen to other opinions and work toward consensus
    • If being nominated for a director position, are they a potential future officer as well
    • Will the nominee work well with others but also be willing to offer their own opinion, even if it’s unpopular
  • Be sure the nominations are clearly published or communicated to whatever the electoral body is in advance of the election
  • Be sure whoever leads the actual election process (nominating committee chair, current president, etc.) is well versed on the process for the election and has information on how to handle curve balls that might be thrown such as nominations from the floor.  (We recommend you draft a script for the person leading the election process).  The script should include potential situations that can occur during the process and how to handle them. 

Above all, don’t let your nomination and election process become a “joke” where people who aren’t interested are nominated or elected because they “were out of the room”.  Building a culture where people want to be an association leader because of its value and importance to them personally, professionally and to the profession or industry they are serving is key to your association’s long-term success. 

Having a clear nomination and election process will help the process, but to build that culture can take time and takes committed leaders and staff. 

Good luck!

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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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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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Many times leaders are presented with ideas by their teammates.  How they respond to these ideas separates the good leaders from the bad leaders.

Think for a minute about how you responded the last time an idea was presented to you by one of your teammates.  Did you keep a positive look on your face or a negative one?  Were you enthusiastic or dejected?  Did you comment positively on the idea or negatively?

I recently read a blog posting on this topic that was helpful to me.  Click here to read it for yourself.

I like the ten suggested responses to ideas.  Perhaps most of all, I like the notion that no idea is perfect.  If you wait for the perfect idea or try to modify the idea so much in an attempt to make it perfect, you lose the momentum created by the idea in the first place.  I also really like the idea of running a “trial” or a “pilot” for new ideas – in other words, I like the idea, let’s see if it works the way we think it should.

I thought the 4 principles were helpful:  (my summation)

1.  Respecting the idea is respecting the idea creator.

2.  Don’t exaggerate the challenges you anticipate with the idea.

3.  If you change the idea too much, it becomes yours, not theirs.  Don’t steal ideas.

4.  If they own the idea, they will see it through.

Even good leaders can’t be good all the time for sure.  However, hopefully you more often than not encourage the development and presentation of new ideas by your teammates through positive responses.

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