An Executive Director's point of view


March 16, 2017: Team building

Get rid of the games and offer real benefits.

August 31, 2016: Managing online stuff

When designating managers or administrators of web sites, social media, or other online venues, name at least two people to the position - and give both of them access - even if only one of them does all the work.

If only one person is named and that individual quits, is fired, leaves the Board, or just gets angry at the organization, there is a danger those sites will be managed inappropriately or not managed at all.

Those sites belong to the association, not to the webmaster, committee chair, Board, staff, or any other person. Make sure the association is in control of them.

July 08, 2016: No censorship

Censorship should not be a goal of associations, and telling employees what they can and cannot say to each other in the office is censorship.

If you feel that particular discussions - political or otherwise - are causing harmful effects in your office, rather than banning those subjects, promote a respect for diversity of opinion.

That may be very helpful, as many association employees are obsessively polite and inclined to avoid discussing anything that generates conflict.

While limiting what employees can say to members or outsiders may be appropriate, restricting what they say to each other is not.

July 04, 2016: Attorney for attorneys

Association attorneys should not serve as Board members of their associations.

The association attorney should be a detached person who can provide objective legal advice and representation and not be influenced by the possibility of being a party to a legal action.

But what if the entire association is comprised of attorneys and most available legal counsel are members of the organization? They would all hold conflicts of interest.

One solution to this problem would be to secure the services of a member who does not hold a leadership position in the association, is not employed by the same firm as any of the Board members, and for whom the potential conflict would be minimal.

That person may even be willing to work for free, which is what associations often want in the first place.

May 05, 2016: Reducing office expenses

A remote workforce can reduce infrastructure costs for associations.

It offers other benefits, too.

April 27, 2016: Exposed points

When placing writing utensils at registration tables or expo booths, use ball point pens with exposed points.

People are less likely to absent-mindedly walk off with an item that might leave a mark on their clothes, poke a hole in their pockets, or stab them when reaching into a briefcase or purse.

A colleague recently posted a question on ASAE Collaborate, asking the pros and cons of listing Board member email addresses on the association web site.

Here's what I think:

Pros -

1. The organization will appear more accessible and inviting.

2. Board members can better function as ambassadors and provide peers with information that may lead to memberships, registrants, and supporters.

3. Viewers will be able to decide for themselves with whom to speak. They may want to chat with people they know of, those who hold positions similar to theirs, or folks whom they believe possess the information they want.

4. People won't have to worry about falling down a bottomless pit when entering questions on an anonymous, organizational "contact" page.

Cons -

1. Board members don't always want to be contacted.

P.S. -

List individual staff emails and extensions, too - including the CEOs. Let people call those they want to call. The association should not filter contacts.

Telephone calls and email messages are opportunities, not interruptions.

March 02, 2016: Free elections

Joseph Tiernay, Executive Director of the Ontario Good Roads Association (Canada), responding to an ASAE Collaborate post about electronic voting, related that his organization represents municipal governments, and one of the City Clerks uses its vote tabulators for the association election (for free) as a practice for the conduct of city elections.

That may not be possible for other groups, but it was an intriguing idea.

November 11, 2015: Fix members' database errors

Members and customers often commit unintentional errors when entering personal data on registration forms.

They may enter their work address but their home city and zip. Or they may transpose phone numbers, enter an extra space in an email address, even misspell their own names. They may be typing quickly and not proofreading (and, perhaps, using only lower case letters, too).

So go the extra mile and fix it all.

Contact the person, if necessary, to obtain correct information, find a way to match existing data with whatever was entered in the database, or look up correct zip codes on the post office web site.

This may take more time than you had planned to spend, but it will complete the task the members or customers began, will record correct info in the database, and will enable you to communicate with them in the future.

Regarding those pesky addresses and zip codes: Depending on the size of your database and the resources available to you, run a zip code sort and visually scan the state/province field (country, too, for international associations). If a zip code doesn't match the state or province, you've found a file that needs to be corrected.
Association meetings are scheduled for all kinds of reasons. Committees, ad hoc task forces, discussion groups, and others may convene to discuss business, recommend decisions, or just to satisfy some higher organizational authority that required them to meet.

And when volunteers handle scheduling themselves, they often do it at the last minute (perhaps on a days notice). Or, they set a meeting date at the conclusion of the prior meeting and don't remind anybody later on. They may not send agendas until one hour before the meeting, if at all.

If volunteers are responsible for scheduling meetings in your association, here's how you can help them:

1. Ensure that participants receive ample time to plan for meetings - usually at least one week.

2. If participants need to be surveyed to determine a meeting time, see that is done even earlier, so they can fit the event into their work schedules.

3. Send a reminder a few days before the meeting. Don't assume that everybody will remember the scheduled date, even if it is expected they should. An additional reminder the day before wouldn't hurt.

4. Send everybody an agenda 5-7 days before the meeting. That may prompt them to think about and prepare for discussion items.

5. Send minutes as soon after the meeting as possible, especially if work assignments were parceled out to participants. Send the minutes again with the agenda for the next meeting.

6. Offer to conduct these tasks yourself. A meeting organizer may feel relieved that these things are being taken care of by somebody else.

Volunteers who don't follow these steps are usually not trying to short cut the notification process or do anything evil. They just don't know the most appropriate way to conduct meeting affairs. So help them as much as you can.
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