An Executive Director's point of view

 

July 27, 2015: Wrong question

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
I just canceled a publication subscription (actually, I let it lapse but was still sent each issue - so I canceled) and I was sent a survey asking about the quality of the person who handled the matter.

I was not asked why I canceled or what I thought of the publication. The company merely wanted feedback about its employee's performance.

(I usually give great ratings, but I did not communicate with anybody to cancel. I did it online. So, I did not respond to the survey).

Shouldn't the company have been more concerned about why it lost a subscriber than about how its employee performed?

July 22, 2015: Like it used to be

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
When you hear long-time members or former leaders pining about "the old days," don't dismiss their memories as worn out war stories.

Listen to what they say, because they may be sharing valuable insights and information that you can use.

July 21, 2015: Employee morale builder

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
Open Books, a Chicago-area literacy program, issues business cards to all of its employees - even to those who don't need them.

It makes employees feel more important and gives them one more reason to like the organization.

But don't issue business cards to your employees in lieu of paying higher salaries. Pay people what they deserve - and give them the cards, too.

July 20, 2015: Email use study

Category: Technology
Posted by: David M Patt
Yes, people still use email. A lot.
Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
Sometimes, people think more of you and your association just because you listened to them.

Here are some situations in which listening was beneficial - and some tips for dealing with complaints.

July 14, 2015: Write for your audience

Category: Communications
Posted by: David M Patt
A legal article, written for a non-legal audience, included the following sentence:

"The...Circuit in this opinion basically upheld the District Court's ruling that denied the appellant's motion for summary judgment."

The problem? Most non-lawyers don't know what a summary judgment is. And they don't need to know whether a motion (whatever that is) was upheld or denied, or at what judicial level the action was taken.

They just need to know who won, who lost, what was the penalty, and if the case is finished or if it was sent on to another court.

When talking to people outside of your industry or profession (and, maybe, to some of your colleagues, too), use lay language. It will not make you sound less professional or less intelligent.

But it will make it more possible for you to successfully communicate with your audience(s).

July 13, 2015: What is collaboration?

Category: Communications
Posted by: David M Patt
Association professionals often use keywords in meetings, publications, job interviews, and other venues, but they don't always say exactly what they mean.

One of the keywords they frequently utter is "collaboration."

Does collaboration mean involving a lot of people in the decision-making process? Does it mean discussing things within a group and arriving at a consensus? Does it mean a group votes on everything?

Does it mean providing input to the leader? Does it mean that the leader should invite and welcome input? Does it mean that everybody in a work setting should be equal and there should be no leaders?

Does it mean the creation of a culture where everybody talks about stuff before a decision is made?

If you want to ensure that lots of people have input, then say that. Words like "collaboration" don't mean the same thing to everybody.

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt

July 08, 2015: How to report success

Category: Communications
Posted by: David M Patt
When your organization raises more money than was anticipated don't brag about that to your audiences.

They don't care. They are members and/or customers and/or supporters, not shareholders. They will not benefit financially.

Instead, tell them what new and better services the organization will provide. That's what they care about.

Tell them about new educational programs, improved online registration, better industry alerts, more thorough data analyses, upgraded advocacy efforts, or whatever it is they value from your group.

Tout news about financial growth to your Board, so it will be proud of the organization's ability to deliver more to its audiences (and so it can credit you with helping make that possible).

Not-for-profit organizations exist to deliver more and better services, not to make money. They have to make money to deliver those services, but their success is measured by the services, not by the money.

So, tell everybody about the services, not about the money.

July 07, 2015: Revenge of the volunteers

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
There's a lot of chatter about how volunteer moderators shut down their groups on Reddit to register their unhappiness with the company's firing of an employee.

The company had no obligation to explain why that person had been fired. And the volunteers had no right to know.

But if a company - or an association - relies on volunteers to deliver a major portion of its services, it should incorporate their feelings into whatever course of action it pursues. (But it should not bend to their will).

Lessons for associations:

1. Anticipate an unpleasant reaction to a controversial decision, and be prepared for it.

2. Don't create a situation where anybody - volunteers or employees - can, or will, shut down an organization because they disagree with a decision that has been made.
 
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