An Executive Director's point of view


February 13, 2017: Family leave policy

Here's the case for paid family leave.

August 10, 2016: Lowest bidder

Requiring acceptance of the lowest bid is a bad policy.

It limits your choice to only one consideration - cost.

But what if the lowest bidder does not offer the best quality?

What if the lowest bidder is a poor communicator? Or has a history of missing timelines?

What if you doubt the ability of the lowest bidder to meet logistical requirements?

Selection of the lowest bid is often driven by a desire to prevent personal considerations from superseding those that may be best for the organization.

But the CEO, or whoever makes the contractual decision, should be able to take all facts into consideration, not just cost.

December 15, 2015: Letters of support

Associations may often be asked to submit letters of support for research grant applications or other activities related to their work.

But an organization may not have adopted a position on the relevant issue, so it cannot legitimately write a letter of support, even if every Board member favors the proposal and even if it seems like a logical position.

Of course, the Board can adopt the position and then write the letter, but requests for support are often received at the very last minute and an association cannot always act that quickly (or may deem it unwise to do so).

One solution is to adopt a general policy about certain professional practices so when a request for support is received, it can immediately be determined whether the proposed activity falls within that policy.

It may be very tempting to support something that "everybody" thinks is appropriate, but if support is voiced by the organization, the organization must have a position on that issue. It can't act just because "everybody" thinks it should.

September 30, 2015: Self-promotion

Association conflict of interest forms usually require Board members to disclose affiliations that may put them in conflict, or create the appearance of conflict, with proposed organizational policies.

Regardless of how the conflict policy is phrased, though, the general aim is to always put the organization first.

Still, it's not unusual for some Board members to promote themselves or their colleagues by dishing out praise in minutes or committee reports. They may even list themselves as authors of association proclamations or reports, seeking public credit for what should be viewed as organizational actions.

You need to prevent that from happening. Those Board members may not realize (or may not care) that their actions make the association look less professional.

You could speak privately with them, invoke a procedure in the conflict policy, or send them the document they signed, with the relevant portion underlined. If you have the opportunity, you may simply edit out the information that you think does not belong, and deal with the complaints later.

Whatever path you follow, do whatever is possible to ensure that all association leaders (including you) put association needs ahead of their own needs.

April 25, 2014: No employee handbook

So, lots of employees don't read the employee handbook. Why is that surprising?

If you want employees to know about their employee benefits, communicate with them in a way that will convey that information.

If you don't care if employees know about their benefits, but you want to be able to say you told them, distribute an employee handbook (that lots of employees won't read).

July 01, 2013: Data privacy

Associations often collect a lot of information about attendees at conferences and trade shows.

Be aware of these issues when doing that (click and turn to page 8).

March 07, 2013: Flexibility

Here's a business take on telecommuting and flextime.

February 22, 2013: Weather emergencies

The Chicago-based National Commission on Correctional Health Care distributes staff cell phone numbers to its employees so they can be swiftly notified when a weather emergency requires an office closing.

Only four inches of snow fell in the Chicago area today, so there was no reason to even think about closing the office.

Streets were quickly plowed and salted. In some suburban communities, sidewalks were cleared, too. It was business as usual for everybody.

But it's still a good idea to be prepared.

September 06, 2012: Maternity leave

Grant the most generous maternity leave you possibly can, not the least that is legally required.

Don't rush mothers (or fathers) back to work. Be prepared to give additional time to moms who had difficult pregnancies, gave birth to special needs children, or experienced other circumstances that may delay their transition back to work.

Don't force moms or dads to use up vacation days or sick days - they'll need those more now than they ever did before.

Don't put parents in the position of having to choose between getting paid and caring for children. Keep them on the payroll at full pay for as long as possible.

And don't hide behind "The Rules." Change the rules, ignore the rules, or break the rules to do what is best for your employees.

Remember: If the association takes good care of its employees, the employees will take good care of the association.

August 03, 2012: No doorbells

If your association headquarters is located in a secure building, don't require visitors to ring a bell to enter your office.

It gives the impression you are suspicious of visitors and really don't want any.

So, unless there are genuine threats to your association, leave the door unlocked. Let people walk right in and talk to you.

They'll appreciate your accessibility.
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