The past few months have been filled with personal and professional transitions - left a job (and membership) I loved after 24 years due to a relocation, changed states, consulted, participated in a lot of association executives meetings, interviewed for a new job, facilitated a search for a new CEO, started a new job, bought a new house, and more. Which means I have lots of association management blog topic content; so it's time to return to blogging.
My first post has to be a highlight of my good friend Judith Lindenau's blog about what she learned as an Interim Association Executive.
Here are Judith's top 6 "most obvious lessons" for association execs:
1. It's not 'them or us.' (Cindy adds: that includes treating boards and their staff like partners!)
2. It's also the AEs job to provide perspective.
3. Have a good, memorable (by everyone) mission statement.
4. Only spend money on things that enable the mission statement. Notable quote: "Be brutal about eliminating the programs and services which don’t serve the
members. One heads up trick is to divide the total expense of a program or
service by the number of real, live members who actually paid money to get it." (Cindy adds: Amen!)
5. Get the association governing docs together.
6. Teach leadership skills. Notable quote: "Unfortunately, most 'Leadership Conferences' don’t teach the practical
aspects of leadership ... The techniques of managing meetings,
setting work goals, forming communities - those essential skills are often
neglected and volunteers are left untrained and uninformed."
And ... "what a wealth of knowledge and support Realtor AEs are to each other." Judith is a wealth of knowledge and support!
Prior to selling our house this week, we had a yard sale. There are three questions we were asked by yard sale attendees that I believe are really relevant to association management too:
1. Are the prices firm or flexible? Clearly regular yard sale attendees like to know if there is flexibility in pricing. I thought it was actually really easy for them to find out, just by asking. Anytime you get a quote for anything, ask if it's "firm or flexible." You might get a lower price just by asking.
2. Do you have (fill in the blank)? Several asked for very specific things they collect - such as glassware, vinyl records, and buttons. It makes sense to always ask if someone has (fill in the blank) if you don't see it. The best example is in meeting planning - if there is a special dessert, a type of sandwich, a buffet item, or even certain centerpieces you don't see anywhere in the meeting planner kit or banquet menus - ask if the facility has it or can do it.
3. Would you sell (fill in the blank) for (fill in the blank)? Someone asked to buy the lawnmower in our garage for a specific price. We had not considered selling our lawnmower, but might have at a particular price. If there is something you want to buy, make an offer to whoever has it - they might just say yes. Or at least you'll know what price it would take for them to say yes. For example, if you're at an event and would like to use or own something that organization has, offer to buy it.
An association exec recently posted a sample ecumenical Invocation Policy on a listserve, that could be useful for others. Here it is:
"It is the policy of (insert association name) that if a prayer is used to open a (insert association name) meeting or event that it be a broad, inclusive invocation of faith that unifies rather than divides on the basis of religion and does not express a preference for one religion over another."
At an event today, there was a fun ice breaker event: AE (Association Executives) Bingo. There are 5 squares across, 5 squares down, and each indicates something that could apply to those attending - plus a free space in the middle (for your name.) Attendees could only include a person's name ONCE on the grid - and the first to get a bingo was the winner. Could also be done with black-out of entire grid to extend the game.
A great way to get to know something about others in the room.
Here is what the squares for this particular bingo game included: (applicable to REALTOR associations, but could easily be modified for others):
* Has increased their affiliate membership this year
* Has attended at least 10 AE workshops
* Is a REALTOR and an AE
* Has been an AE less than 2 years
* Has less than 200 members
* Had increased their non-dues revenue
* Has a president under 30 years old
* Is attending the NAR leadership summit
* Has their RCE
* Lived in more than 3 states
* Knows the name of The Landing mascot (I think this is an association website?)
* Has an indoor pet
* Free space - your name
* Has grandchildren
* Is attending the NAR Convention in Orlando
* Owns a boat or RV
* Has their EPro designation
* Sends thank you notes weekly
* Has uploaded their picture to The Landing
* Has more than 600 members
* Has an association that crosses a state border
* Is an RPAC Major Donor
* Office is located in the same town as the state association building
* Has taken an online course