An Executive Director's point of view


September 23, 2014: Don't build it

Category: Technology
Posted by: David M Patt
"...regardless of whatever math you've will always cost you more to build than to buy. You might just be paying the piper in a different way," says Andrew Ryan, CEO of MemberSuite, advising associations not to try to build their own AMS.

September 18, 2014: What's the WIG idea?

Category: Planning
Posted by: David M Patt
...Say no to good ideas so you can focus on great ideas...

That was the message of today's webinar hosted by Association Forum of Chicagoland.

(WIG = Wildly Important Goals)

September 16, 2014: Thinkers and doers

Category: Governance
Posted by: David M Patt
Boards of Directors should be populated with strategic thinkers, not with worker bees.

But many volunteer-driven organizations, especially those with no staff, usually don't adhere to that practice. Instead, they meld thinking and doing, often relegating thinking to a lower level of importance.

After all, they say, if everybody is a thinker, who's going to be the doer?

Here's a way to solve that problem when there is no staff:

1. Elect strategic thinkers to the Board of Directors. They should deal with long-term issues, not with the details of current activities. They should govern, not manage.

2. One of their duties, though, should be to recruit a cadre of doers, some of whom may also be Board members, to do the things they have thought up. One of those doers should be designated the coordinator (in lieu of a professional CEO). The coordinator, not the Board, should manage the details of current activities and report to the Board.

3. Appoint Board members and other thinkers to committees that are part of the decision-making process. They should discuss issues and make recommendations to the Board.

4. Establish committees of doers (in lieu of professional staff) but call them something else to avoid confusion with Board committees. Their job should be to carry out the work of the organization. They should not have to be Board members.

5. The Board Chair should not also serve as the coordinator (and that person may not have the skills to do that, anyway). Thinking entities and doing entities will do better jobs when they do what they are best at.

6. Keep individual and group responsibilities separate. A thinker who sits on the Board of Directors, for example, may also volunteer as a doer in the cadre. But those are two separate responsibilities and should not be merged into one.

September 12, 2014: Just for not-for-profit staff

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
You've heard the stories, but not with these words.

September 11, 2014: 60 is the new 30

Posted by: David M Patt
"...those in their 50s and 60s have been exposed to more...ideas are richly informed by multiple needs in the market, not just a cool way to do something faster or slicker."

Here are the advantages that older entrepreneurs bring to the marketplace.

September 10, 2014: Lies, damn lies, and advertising

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
Here's what happens when you lie about what you are advertising.

September 09, 2014: The changing workforce

Posted by: David M Patt
Here are some observations about the changing workforce - and how to harness its energy.

September 08, 2014: Empty nester women

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
What does "empty nester" have to do with these findings?

And is the subject audience women whose children have grown and moved away or those who never had children? There's a big, big difference.

Women (and men) who have never had children may simply be continuing the habits they've always had.

September 04, 2014: A different way to hire

Category: Employment
Posted by: David M Patt
What REALLY matters when you hire an employee?

September 03, 2014: How to cheat employees

Category: Employment
Posted by: David M Patt
There are lots of ways for employers to cheat employees. And some, but not all, are legal. Here are just a few cheats (and associations are guilty of some of these):

1. Pay people as independent contractors even though they are employees. Ignore the fact that it is a violation of federal law and that the association may have to pay a penalty for misclassifying workers.

2. Force employees to sign away their right to sue the association. Require they agree to arbitration - with an arbiter selected and paid by the association.

3. Do not pay overtime to non-exempt employees. Tell them the extra hours are part of their jobs.

4. Pay less than the agreed upon salary for an initial period and promise to make it up after that. If an employee quits or gets fired early, the association will have saved money.

5. Don't award vacation days for an initial "probationary period." If an employee leaves during that time, the association will have saved money.

6. Do not pay non-exempt employees for travel time to and from conferences or other activities. Just pay them for time when they are actually working.

7. Hire part-time employees and keep their hours below the amount required to pay benefits.

8. Force non-exempt employees to work "off the clock" - on weekends, evenings, and early mornings - in addition to their regular hours. Tell them it is their responsibility to service members at all times.

Cheating employees is not only wrong (and crappy), it is often illegal. If your association does not treat employees with respect, how can you expect employees to treat members with respect?

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