An Executive Director's point of view
January 18, 2017: Pay the rent
January 11, 2017: Techies find solutions
January 09, 2017: Tech ed
Just as an automobile driver is not an auto mechanic, a computer user doesn't need to be a computer mechanic.
But there are things they should know. So, tell them what those things are.
1. Periodically conduct a general technology learning session for your employees, to help them feel comfortable with technology (not all of them are) and to become familiar with tools and tricks they may not normally employ.
Even regular tech users can benefit, as many may be able to fill in the gaps in their knowledge.
Folks can learn how to do "quick fixes," understand error messages, deal with viruses, and handle power problems.
2. Routinely conduct a session tailored to the needs of users in your organization. It's not just a software tutorial. It should also be a problem-solving session so employees will know when and how to troubleshoot themselves and when an IT expert should be called in to help.
Technology changes constantly and there will always be something new to share with employees. So help keep them ahead of the curve and incorporate technology education into your operations all year long.
January 06, 2017: Different strokes for different folks
We know that some may value the magazine, conference, networking opportunities, or other services you offer, while others may not.
But your members' situations may differ, and that's where you'll face your greatest challenges.
So, try your best to provide each of them with what they want - not what you think they should want and not what you want them to want. And recognize that their needs may change over time.
Here are just a few of the variables that may dictate your members' needs:
AGE: Older members may be most interested in educational offerings and continuing education credits. They are often established in their professions and secure in their jobs. Younger members may prioritize lifestyle issues, paying off student loans, and finding jobs. For many, concerns about professional growth will come later.
WORK SETTING: Members employed by large organizations may enjoy more resources, have better access to mentors, and are accustomed to bureaucracy. Those working in small shops are likely to suffer from far more limitations and routinely make decisions "on the fly."
MARKETING REACH: Businesses seeking local customers will execute very different marketing strategies than will those with a regional, state, national, or international focus. And chain stores will approach administration, promotion, and facilities planning differently than will single-site boutiques.
FUNDING: Members with deep pockets will exercise much more flexibility in decision-making than will undercapitalized businesses. That will impact dues payments, employee travel, marketing, investment, and just about every other aspect of operations.
AUTHORITY: Owners and executives will usually possess decision-making power and may allocate resources that benefit their activities, even if it doesn't help other employees. Those who do not make their own decisions may have to ask permission to travel or to purchase association products, and their requests may be denied.
JOB DUTIES: Members who perform multiple duties on the job may display less loyalty to the association and feel less inclined to renew their membership if the area you represent becomes less significant to them.
So, pay attention to these differences and don't simply pitch to the "ideal" member - unless that's the only kind of member you want.
January 04, 2017: Mind your own business
But we ran it as part of a larger article when we learned that then-Congressman Rod Blagojevich, part of a peacekeeping mission in Belgrade, Serbia, started his daily runs at 4:30 a.m., because he knew there would be no American bombings at that time.
And another member modified her running regimen while participating in a scientific mission in a remote location.
The message was that all of these people were so committed to running that they found ways to continue their training despite being placed in situations where doing so was not easy.
The article was about running, not about the runners' duties.
When disseminating information about your organization, stick your organization's business. For example, don't hang a sign that reads, "Support Our Troops." That's the same as, "Stop the War." Neither has anything to do with the group's business.
So, while you may occasionally voice support or opposition to a policy regarding what you consider basic American rights, that should be an exception, not a routine activity.
Just mind your own business, and don't get involved in matters beyond what is relevant to your organization.
January 02, 2017: Give 'em some slack
Yes, some jobs in association offices are time-specific and you may need to periodically monitor the people who hold those jobs.
But do it in a more private manner. And keep in mind that people who occupy time-specific positions are often oriented to that way of working. They like specific starting and ending times. They don't need to constantly be policed.
But many, many jobs in associations are not time-specific. Employees holding those positions need to complete specific tasks, not simply keep a chair warm for specific hours.
If you penalize people for not starting work at what you consider to be "on time," they won't extend themselves at the end of the day. They'll just drop what they are doing rather than stay longer and finish.
So, loosen up. Worry about tasks completed, not about the hours spent engaged in those tasks.
December 30, 2016: Essential tips - 2016
Practice savvy media relations, say what's important in as many ways as possible, and learn how to appeal to younger people.
Keep your website up-to-date and don't send .pdf documents to reporters.
Avoid bad deals.
Stop shaking down vendors and be willing to bypass the lowest bid.
Record income properly and tinker with your fiscal year if it's helpful.
Learn more about technology, understand lobbying, and recognize meeting problems.
Interview job applicants wisely.
Here are a slew of good ideas. Check out previous annual summaries for more.
December 28, 2016: I'm not a donor
But I did not make a recent donation.
Just because somebody is on a prospect list doesn't mean they've ever been a donor.
So, before you disseminate pleas of support, be sure you are communicating with recipients correctly.
(NOTE: I did not respond to this latest appeal and I am not inclined to give anything to this group anytime soon.)
December 26, 2016: A Congressional briefing
They ambush staffers, monopolize their time, and shove multiple-page statements in their hands.
They act is if their issue is the most important one in the whole world.
Well, it may be to them. But to lawmakers and staff, it's merely one of many.
You are more likely to get results if you lobby this way.
December 23, 2016: Bad manager
Well, there were problems - the more senior person worked independently, ignoring the new team member as much as possible.
The Exec did not step in to help devise a solution to the problem, claiming there just wasn't enough time to do that.
So, the new employee quit, as had two predecessors.
Why did the Executive Director allow this problem to fester?