An Executive Director's point of view


August 24, 2014: Boomers view of Millennials

Posted by: David M Patt
Boomers (a group of people born over an eighteen year span who are wrongfully lumped together and treated as if they were all identical) are often criticized for refusing to understand Millennials (a group of people born over a twenty-year span who are wrongfully lumped together and treated as if they were all identical) and for not marketing to them appropriately.

(Note: Discussion of this issue generally centers on age, which is only one variable - and not always the key variable - in differences between various groups of people. See what Jamie Notter has to say about generational discussions).

These two arbitrarily grouped segments actually have a lot in common, as do other generations, and hold many shared experiences, albeit at different points in time.

But one factor accounting for Boomers' apparent resistance to marketing appropriately to Millennials is that many Boomers feel they have discovered the "right" way to act and to work, and they insist on sharing their valuable finding with Millennials, who don't appear to be listening (which should be no surprise, because Boomers didn't listen to their predecessors, either).

Boomers want to warn Millennials about future dangers. But Millennials, just like the Boomers before them, are content to find out about those things when and if they need to. Many will change in some ways - when and if they need to.

So, fellow Boomers, help Millennials succeed in our profession, offer useful advice (like not answering your cell phone during a job interview), don't lecture them or look down on them, market to them in a way that will connect the two of you, and don't worry about traps they may fall into along their journey.

They'll survive just as well - or even better - as we did.

August 22, 2014: Take a vacation

Posted by: David M Patt
Read this (but not when you are on vacation).

August 20, 2014: Low chair

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Some professionals arrange chairs in their offices in a manner that forces visitors to look up at them. They think that gives them a psychological upper hand in discussion.

It doesn't.

It fosters resentment on the part of the people who are forced to sit in lower chairs. It makes them feel talked down to. And it makes them less likely to accommodate the executive who is trying to dominate them.

When meeting with people in your office, do as much as possible to make them feel equal. Sit at a table, instead of behind your desk. Meet in a conference room, instead of in your office space. If you wear business attire to work, leave your jacket behind. Appear as informal as you can.

Trying to dominate a colleague, sponsor, adversary, or anybody else in this way, just makes it less likely that you will succeed. Nobody wants to be bullied, belittled, or treated in a condescending fashion.

August 18, 2014: Ad agency discounts

Category: Ethics
Posted by: David M Patt

August 14, 2014: Bad for your health?

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
A Public Affairs Council study of the public perceptions of business yielded an interesting statistic.

Fifty percent of respondents rated health care companies less trustworthy than other companies, and the health care sector garnered a lower positive rating than did financial institutions, manufacturing companies, and automobiles.

Thanks to ASAE for pointing to this.

August 13, 2014: A good spin

Category: Marketing
Posted by: David M Patt
Sears, where I rarely shop, sent me a birthday greeting by mistake.

Here's the follow-up message I received not long after the errant note:

"It's not your birthday."

"Birthdays can be fun, and we can't wait to celebrate yours. In our excitement, we accidentally sent out your birthday greeting too soon. Please disregard our little slip up, and don't forget to act surprised when your real birthday is here!"

If you ever need to correct an association communication error (which, I imagine, won't happen often), something like this might do the trick.

Suspicious afterthought: Was the message really sent in error?

August 12, 2014: Termination notice

Category: Employment
Posted by: David M Patt
In many states, like Illinois, employees can be terminated without any notice.

That stinks.

Always give employees a reasonable amount of notice, even if you don't have to, and even if you are letting them go because your organization is suffering financially.

Build notice time into your layoff plans and treat your employees humanely.

August 11, 2014: Ribbons

Category: Meetings
Posted by: David M Patt
Meeting attendees really like them.

They like to advertise their credentials (even when those are printed on their badges), Board and committee positions, and other facts that relate past or present accomplishments.

Colleagues often notice those with long strings of ribbons hanging from their badges and acknowledge their status as leaders and/or celebrities in the profession.

So, print lots of ribbons, offer them to attendees, and be sure they are always available at the registration desk (especially ribbons listing credentials).

That will make people feel important, show them their participation is valued, and will intensify their bond to the organization.

August 06, 2014: Follow directions

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
"When all else fails," some people say, "follow directions."

Well, you shouldn't wait until "all else fails."

If you are directed to register for an event by a certain date, do that. If you are asked to write no more than 150 words for a blurb, write no more than 150 words.

If you must indicate whether you want a printed or electronic newsletter, mark your choice. If you are told to use a black pen or pencil to fill out a scantron form (yes, those forms are still used) don't use a blue pen.

If you don't follow directions, whatever you are trying to do won't get done.

So get it right - follow directions.

August 05, 2014: Over eager Chair-elect

Posted by: David M Patt
Beware Chair-elects who "jump the gun" and try to assert themselves before their terms as Chair begin.

While the Chair-elect position provides continuity in succession, it also creates a lame duck Chair whose authority may be infringed upon by the Chair-to-be.

Ideally, those two should work out their own transition plan. Sometimes they do that early on, with the Chair keeping the Chair-elect involved in all major activities.

But sometimes the two don't get along and the transition becomes anything but orderly.

Politically, you don't want to estrange the Chair-elect, but you have a professional obligation to respect the leadership role of the current Chair.

So, what can you do?

1. Demonstrate loyalty to both of them and help them each succeed in their current roles. You need to maintain your job of working for the organization, not working for either of them.

2. Let the Chair-elect share a plan with you for the coming term. Show that you can be relied upon as an organizational partner when the time comes.

3. Look for opportunities to encourage dialogue between them, even if it does not yield anything positive. Although it is their relationship, not yours, poor interaction can negatively impact the organization.

4. Gently remind the Chair-elect, when necessary, that actions must be approved by the Board of Directors and that the Chair is the governing leader of the organization. The Chair-elect will probably respect that and want to avoid setting a bad precedent for the next Chair-elect.

5. Ensure, as best you can, that the organization is following an appropriate course. Speak privately with the Chair, Chair-elect, and anybody else who can help ensure that wise decision-making takes place.
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