Tag Archive for: chief staff executive

The Will to Perform

The Will to Perform-Association Volunteer Leaders (539 words)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

The Will to Perform

Oh how things have changed, where has the will to perform gone?

The association world was once filled with members that pretty much did everything…and if they were lucky, they could afford an executive secretary…mostly to keep the clerical in order. Today, that executive secretary, in many associations enjoys the CEO title. This is because they really do act as the CEO of the association. The chief staff executive runs the HQ office and directs the staff to achieve what members (volunteer leaders) once did themselves.

But, what about the members, are they still doing their share? In too many circles, an observer would have to answer with, no they are not. Today everyone’s world is compressed—we are all trying to do too much in too little time. It is common to hear among the volunteer leaders, “The staff will do it; it’s their job. “ This sentiment is heard across the association-sphere, regardless of how full the staff members’ plates are.

Let’s bring this discussion to membership. While we all “mouth” that membership is important and it is the life-blood of an association…our actions do not always demonstrate this. In too many associations, and let’s be honest, membership is an afterthought or the department gets far less than necessary resources, attention, and prestige.

While the above can also be said for other departments in associations, membership in my experience is the most egregious.

What can we do? First, we must embrace that in today’s world of associations—there must be a partnership between staff and volunteer leaders in each silo/department of the organization. This is where the Will to Perform is most crucial. If either side of the partnership does not perform, trust is lost and the partnership is ineffective. Staff has to abandon the, “I have a life” as well as volunteer leaders must abandon the, “I’m just a volunteer; I have a job or a company to run.” Neither of these excuses for lack of performance is acceptable.

While this idea can be extrapolated throughout the organization into all silos/departments, specific to membership, we must communicate to our volunteer leaders and staff alike that, Membership is Everybody’s Business. We are all in this together and together we will resolve all issues. Members of today, unfortunately, have been trained by staff to expect everything to be done by staff. Moving forward, this must be changed.

Give your members a precious jewel. All volunteer leaders need a reason to perform before they can muster up within themselves the Will to Perform. What is the core value to them and the organization for them to desire to perform well? In the membership silo/department it is this—membership is a good business, financial, and career decision. If the association’s CEO can broadcast this message in a way that staff and volunteer leaders accept as a precious jewel that membership is a good business decision and held close to the heart—then it can and will be shared with others—the uninitiated.

If you are an association CEO, Executive Director, Executive Vice President—the chief staff executive, your job is to demonstrate in deed, more than in word, that Membership is Everybody’s Business and that membership in your organization is a Good Business, Financial and/or Career Decision. (c) 2017

The key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.

Effective Non-Profit Interdepartmental Partnering (829 words)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

Developing Strategic Alliances

Divisive in the world of non-profits are the employee and executive adverse reactions to anything entrepreneurial. This operating philosophy must be buried with the other relics of the Twentieth Century if Twenty-First Century non-profits are to thrive. The natural outcropping of this (should be) dead paradigm is silo mentality.

Are you having challenges with internal departments unwilling to collaborate? Do you believe this lack of cooperation is costing your organization time, resources, and money? Here is an idea that I’m sure will serve all leaders of today’s non-profits: put your suspected “Lords of Lesser Corners” under the microscope and call them out—privately, of course.

Do you have “Lords of Lesser Corners” in your organization? Be honest now…I’m not trying to be mean however, let’s call things by their proper name. These “Lords” are persons with some amount of authority but are emotionally small people. They are in constant fear of their jobs and area of influence. They lead by Draconian methodology. Their standard method of operation is protectionism. They live their non-profit organizational lives in constant fear and other erroneous beliefs.

Are these “Lords” bad people? Generally not, but they have a huge need for updated education in organizational success and personal success. “Lords of Lesser Corners” can be identified by their unwillingness to change, progress, and embrace new opportunities.

Exploring the Cost of Devastation

The disarray these Lords bestow upon your organization is omnipresent. The protectionism is so insidiously woven into the fabric of their silo’s culture that it is like a cancer in need of chemotherapy. Are you dealing with these challenges?

  • The very bright talent leaves.
  • The deadwood lingers.
  • The bottlenecks are everywhere.
  • Interdepartmental relationships are severed.
  • Interdepartmental sabotage is rampant.
  • Internal customer deadlines are ignored.
  • The organization is completely constipated.

What’s a Chief Staff Executive to Do?

Before you can scan the landscape, you first have to take off the blinders and be completely honest about your situation. You can no longer play ostrich with you’re your head in the sand. Take a close look at your “Lords of Lesser Corners” and explore this question deeply, “Do they add any value to the organization?” Consider the following:

  • Do they possess a talent so specialized that they are impossible to replace?
  • Are they so loved by large segments of your membership that their departure would cause a retention problem?
  • Are you so understaffed that you are willing to retain those that impede?
  • Is it just too much trouble to make a change?
  • Are they a family member?
  • Are they blackmailing you?
  • Do you have the will to lead well?

Strategy for Successful Retention

  • Re-educate the “Lord” as to your expectations of how they operate in the organization. This is the best option. If you can help your Lords to better understand their place in the greater scheme of things, they might consider a behavior change. For internal partnering to be successful, every manager/director must understand how their department’s behavior, performance, and cooperation affect all the other departments and ultimately, the members’ experience.
  • Re-organize your company’s silos and relocate the “Lord” in a section where they will do less damage through their provincial thinking. This is the easiest path but least effective. Your “Lords,” if not re-educated, can and will still spread their darkness.
  • Realize you, the Chief Staff Executive, might be part of the problem for allowing the isolative behavior to continue. You may not realize it but through your non-action, you have been rewarding the behavior you do not want. Ultimately, whatever happens in your organization generally emanates from your management style and behavior.
  • Adjust your departmental director review process to also include their accountability for the whole organization’s effectiveness and success in serving members.

Tools, Skills & Motivation

Relationship management tools will be at the foundation for improvement in interdepartmental partnering. One effective tool is to associate salary, bonus, or incentive pay for managers and department directors with interdepartmental relationship improvement. You can use a number of 360-style measuring instruments—an application you might already own—for measuring improvement. Connect pay to improvement and you’ll be pleased with the results.

An additional collaboration tool is to develop a staff committee (a representative from every department) of “Interdepartmental Collaboration,” answering directly to the Chief Staff Executive. I use the term collaboration as it conjures a different and more beneficial vision in the minds of most, from that of cooperation. This committee will be charged with, and rewarded for, the quality of interdepartmental collaboration.

While it is completely true that the Chief Staff Executive sets the culture for any non-profit—this person cannot be everywhere all the time. Your collaboration committee might just save the careers of your “Lords of Lesser Corners” by helping the “Lords” to better understand how they can contribute to the success of your organization as a whole, and not just their department.

The key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.

Riding the Member ROI Wave—Proving Real Dollar Member ROI for Consistent Growth (1292 words)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

Ride the Member ROI Wave to Accelerated Organizational Growth

State associations, more than national associations, are riding the member ROI wave of accelerated member recruitment. They are proving the real-dollar return on investment (ROI) of membership in order to influence industry members into joining. These associations have realized that the “join because you should” died a long time ago. Today, the “prove to me that membership is a smart decision” has taken hold across North America and is indicating there will be no letup of this paradigm any time soon.

Still Hooked on Days Gone Bye

Unfortunately, far too many associations are still hooked on the opiate of the more senior members belonging to, and attending meetings “because they should,” regardless of the quality of events or ROI of membership. They are not riding the member ROI wave. Wake up! These lovely folks, in huge numbers, are retiring and/or passing away. In their place, are appearing a different breed of industry participant and joining because one should is about as foreign to them as your Grandfather’s Oldsmobile.

There are those that cling to the fading idea that associations must be mission driven, without concern for delivering member value. Some say that associations that deliver real-dollar member value are nothing more than buying clubs. Perhaps today’s Mission-Driven philosophy might be nothing more than an excuse for non-performance while Member-ROI-Centric demands that association staff and volunteer leaders perform at the highest levels possible in order to member ROI wave.

Member ROI Centric

Associations that cling to obtuse missions as opposed to delivering high-level member value can imprudently spend the lion’s share of time and resources conducting activities—activities that serve the industry and all that are involved without holding membership. Where’s the value for those loyal members that annually render their dues payments? Many say that it is non-existent. It’s not always easy to be high-performing and deliver actual real-dollar value to members—value that the non-members do not receive. However, for staff and volunteer leaders that use “member ROI, member retention, and member recruitment” as one of their important considerations in decision making—across the organizational silos—these organizations are learning how to create and deliver member ROI. These organizations are enjoying consistent membership growth.

Today’s Forward-Thinking Associations

Progressive association staff and volunteer leaders of today are taking a different approach to member recruitment and retention—one that centers on member value and ROI. They are riding member ROI wave by focusing on how every decision affects member ROI. They are:

·        Seeing their organization through the eyes of the non-member to better understand why the non-members have not accepted the invitation of membership.

·        Promoting the benefits of membership features. They have learned how to explain the “what’s in it for me” to prospective members. They no longer rely on just a list of membership features and erroneously calling them benefits, they are riding the member ROI wave. Additionally, they have learned to differentiate between the features only accessible to an individual or company through membership and the activities they do that delivers benefit to all in the industry. They are learning how to sell through the window of member-only benefit and relying less on things their organization does that delivers benefit to all.

·        Proving beyond the shadow of doubt that membership in their organization is a good business, career, and financial decision by conducting qualitative research sessions to determine what their members believe is the actual, annual real-dollar ROI of each member-only, feature of membership is worth.

·        Discovering, identifying, and engaging their organization’s Member Recruitment Evangelists—the members that have been around for a while, are influential, and understand how a larger and stronger organization can deliver more value to members and their industry alike. And…arming these Member Recruitment Evangelists with an effective tool for influencing non-members into becoming paid members.

The Member ROI Wave Evangelists’ Tool

The trend is moving away from the traditional three-pound prospective member packages. Those packages of yesterday were really an effort to baffle with bulk rather than to dazzle with brilliance. Today, nobody will read a box or folder full of information—it was something like an association member recruitment data dump. Member Recruitment Evangelists and prospective members alike want something (hard-copy and electronic) compact, tightly written, and clearly explaining the “what’s in it for me” in real dollar members. They want to get an idea as the member ROI wave they can expect. The days of saying, “Membership is Priceless” are gone.

This trend of producing a compact tri-fold member recruitment brochure for the organization’s Member Recruitment Evangelists, and everyone else, has been embraced more by state associations than has national associations.

Some of the state and local associations that have produced the Member Recruitment Evangelists’ tool include:

·        Mechanical Contractors Association of South Carolina

·        Southern Illinois Builders Association

·        Associated Builders and Contractors Minnesota/North Dakota Chapter

·        American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado

·        American Council of Engineering Companies of Virginia

·        National Association of the Remodeling Industry Central Ohio Chapter

This tool succinctly communicates the “member-only” features of membership and how the membership-at-large values each feature in annual real-dollar numbers. The brochure also communicates the “what’s in it” for the individual, their company, and their industry. Not every prospect will care about all the features of membership that is offered to them. As such, Member Recruitment Evangelists have the ability to discover which features of membership matter to the prospect and then can help them to understand the ROI they can expect from using just those features. For a free template to help you produce your own “dazzle them with brilliance” member recruitment brochure, email your request to ed@rigsbee.com

Member ROI Wave Buying Motives

Selling guilt is like having only one tool in one’s toolbox. The days of people joining because they should, have vanished. With that said, selling guilt along with several important reasons to buy can still be effective, in some situations, for getting CEOs to sign up large numbers of their employees. This is something that some Member Recruitment Evangelists and others are discovering. The something else is buying motives.

The organizations that are riding the member ROI wave, are doing so by helping their members to couple the evangelists’ tool with the knowledge of buying motives is proving very effective. Association staff and volunteer leaders are starting to understand the difference between a feature of membership and how each of the various features make their members lives better—the benefit of the feature. They are moving toward great benefit copy writing for both electronic and print publishing to help current members and prospective members alike to better understanding of the “what’s in it for me” that the association offers.

Each feature of membership relates to one or more buying motives within the framework of non-member decisions to buy (join). The six basic member ROI wave buying motives are:

·        Profit/Gain

·        Fear of Loss

·        Avoidance of Pain

·        Comfort/Pleasure

·        Love/Affection

·        Pride/Prestige

As association staff members learn how to write benefit statements for each feature of (member-only) membership and do so through the window of one or more buying motives held within the minds of prospects—the power of the written word exponentially accelerates. How well an organization’s website communicates member value and ROI has an enormous effect on the organization’s member recruitment results.

Chief Staff Executives Getting Onboard

For years, many chief staff executives (CSE) truly believed that member recruitment was solely the responsibility of the membership department, and focused elsewhere. Today, many CSEs are riding the member ROI wave and realizing the critical nature of everyone in the organization being on-board for the organization’s quest for member recruitment. CSEs are working hard to breakdown the silo mentality of the boards of directors and the staff members—becoming member-ROI-centric and charging everyone with the simple question, “How will this action affect member retention, recruitment, and total delivered member ROI?” After all, Membership is Everybody’s Business. They are effectively riding the member ROI wave.

“Compelling conversations is the single best way of creating concrete conversions… CONSISTENTLY!” –Ed Rigsbee