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Posts Tagged ‘association management’

Meetings are necessary to achieve consensus – especially in associations.  We’ve all been in those meetings that were a complete waste of time.  Make sure meetings you run are not a waste of time but are productive and help your organization work toward achieving its mission. 

To do so, we have identified seven keys to running successful, productive meetings:

  • Have an agenda for every meeting
    • Every meeting should have an agenda that identifies all the items to be covered during the meeting.  The agenda should clearly state the purpose of the meeting and the expected outcomes for the meeting and should be distributed enough in advance of the meeting for participants to review and give thought to the items being addressed.  The purpose and expected outcomes should also be restated by the leader at the beginning of the meeting. 
  • If you need volunteers for activities, get them lined up before the meeting – never ask for volunteers during a meeting
    • So many times it happens, an item is discussed and after it’s decided upon, we seek a volunteer to “lead it”.  You know in advance the items being addressed and discussed so line up your volunteers before the meeting.  This will help assure you get interested, passionate people leading your activities.   
  • Make sure all planned actions during the meeting are related to strategic goals of the organization
    • If it’s not helping to achieve your mission, you shouldn’t be doing it. 
  • The meeting leader (President, Committee Chair, etc.) should be a facilitator, not a dictator
    • This is very important and is often a difference between for profit corporate leaders and successful association leaders.  Remember all members are equal.  It’s the job of the meeting leader to facilitate the discussion – make sure all points of view are given an opportunity to be discussed and debated.
  • Achieve consensus
    • Before any votes are taken, make sure all participants understand what they’re voting on and give ample time for discussion. 
    • Do not allow people to filibuster or to repeat positions already articulated by others. 
    • See our blog on achieving consensus for more information.
  • Make sure all decisions are clearly articulated at the end of the meeting
    • In order to assure the expected actions occur between meetings, it’s important the decisions are clearly articulated.  If assignments are created, be sure due dates are also assigned.
  • Be sure accurate minutes are taken during the meeting and distributed promptly following the meeting including any assignments and due dates
    • Minutes are the historical record of your meetings and decisions.  Be sure you have accurate minutes for all your meetings.  Additionally, between meetings, follow up with people who have assignments to be sure they’re on track

If you follow these seven simple steps your meetings will be efficient and will lead to successes for your association.  Happy Meeting!

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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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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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On Friday, January 17 I had the privilege of moderating an esteemed panel of experts in a discussion titled, The Future of Associations at the National Association of Manufacturers Council of Manufacturing Associations Winter Meeting.

The audience included more than 100 association executive members of the NAM CMA and more than 200 people joining live via webcast.

If you missed the session, you missed a lot.  However, don’t be upset because you can view the entire session by visiting this link.

I thought the points of view offered by the three panelists were very interesting and in some ways surprising.  All in all, the panelists agreed on one major point:  In five to ten years associations will not look like they do today.

Each panelist had very different points of view as to why associations will change and what exactly associations will look like in ten years.

I would like for this blog post to become an opportunity for all of you (association executives, association staff, association volunteers) to share a dialog about the future of associations.  Think about the following questions and reply with your answers to some or all of them.  Let’s see if we can shape the future of associations instead of letting the future shape them for us. 

1.  What kind of thinking should associations and association leaders be doing to deliver value to members in the future?

2.  How are demographic shifts impacting associations now and in the future?

3.  With major demographic shifts occurring, how will associations deliver value to their significantly different members in the future?

4.  How are volunteers and volunteering changing in the future?

5.  What are the key drivers of change in associations?

6.  Will the consensus process of decision making change in the future?  If so, how will that change affect associations?

7.  Who/What will be the three greatest competitors of associations in the future?

Let’s get this discussion going.  I’m excited to see the results.

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There are many kinds of partnerships in life – friendships, marriages, customer-supplier relationships, employee-employee relationships and more. All of these “partnerships” can be complicated. For these partnerships to be successful, certain values must be present in both parties.

I think those values are:

1. Trust each other
2. Be committed to each other
3. Act respectfully and responsibly
4. Care for each other
5. Grow together and find Enjoyment in the relationship

It is difficult for anyone to live these values in all their “partnerships” daily. I am convinced however, in order for people to achieve greatness and happiness, they must strive to achieve these values.

What value do you find in successful partnerships?

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