Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Motivating Your "Difficult" Team Member

In a leadership role within your association?  Then your job (whether it is written in the job description or not) includes motivating your team.  And not just from time to time, successful organizations motivate daily.

Here are a few things you can do to motivate your "difficult" team member:

Got Problems Internally?  Don't Shy Away - Deal With Them!

Whether they are constantly calling in sick, on their phones texting, or simply not engaging in team meetings, don't wait t address the situation until there is a significant pattern; or perhaps waiting for someone else to notice, deal with them.  If you let it go with that ONE individual, others will notice, and possibly follow suit.

Be Objective (Even When It Hurts)

If you are frustrated, you can make rash decisions, that may affect everyone else's day, and roles.  If you think that your personal opinions may get in the way, then instead of worrying about whether or not any sort of bias will show, gather a team of managers - those who work directly or indirectly with the individual to conduct a review.  Base any conversation on facts, and see if there is a need for any additional training.  The individual may not have learned a particular skill in the way they needed to in order to be effective, so allow them the time to respond to any issues.

Have the Conversation

Tell them how you (or your management team) feels.  But allow them the time to express their position too.  The conversation should include both sides exploring ways to solve the issue.  But don't expect a resolution right away.  In many cases, you will have to allow some time to think about possible avenues, to formulate the best decision and critical path.


Now that you have had your conversation, and have both agreed to the right plan for the situation, don't just move on -- your employee may not know where to start in order to fix the issue.  Help them explore job-shadowing, professional development, or set aside time weekly to go through the parts of the job that they are simply not "getting".  Following up is more than just an ongoing, conversation, is action.

Recognize the Change

After the time invested on both sides, hopefully you will see positive change.  At this point, some leaders just "move on" to the next issue, but don't allow yourself to re-focus on something else without recognizing your team member's efforts.  It can be a simple chat, or some other reward that you deem appropriate.

What else could you be doing to motivate and change a difficult team member?

Image courtesy of artur84 at

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Want to Create a Better #Association Conference? Some helpful tips...

  1. What are your goals?  What are THEIRS?  Do you know why someone is attending your conference?  Is it the program, the networking, both?  It is it earn PD credits?  Do you really know?  The first thing you should consider when creating your next conference is to determine the "why" - why your stakeholders sponsor and exhibit, why your attendees show up, etc.  This could be done during post-event evaluations, both to determine if the most recent event met their expectations, and what would meet their expectations.
  2. DON'T Pack the Program.  Yes, they are there to learn.  But are they really taking away all they can with a packed program?  Down-time for the attendee to absorb the information they learned, or perhaps chat with another participant to discuss what was covered will increase event ROI.
  3. Does every session look the same on paper?  If it does, change it.  Surprise attendees with some longer, some shorter sessions.  Sessions that get them involved, sessions that increase participation.  The element of surprise will keep their attention throughout the day.
  4. Don't make it boring - have fun!  Yes, they are there to learn, and conduct business.  But, at the same time, it is a moment for them where they are not in their offices/workspaces, so don't forget to implement some downtime for family programs, or perhaps use gamification to create fun and unique ways for attendee/sponsor/exhibitor interaction.  Keep them smiling, not exhausted!

What else have you done to create a better conference?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Challenges of Being an Executive Director

In case you didn't see it, in December 2014 Huffington Post published a fantastic article called "No One Told Us! The Unspoken Challenges of Being an Executive Director".

The following are a few paragraphs from that article that hit home:

Your salary per hour is actually not very good. The job never ends, and every part of the role is legitimately important. Recruiting, developing and retaining talent? It's the most critical part of your job. High-level fundraising and management of key external relationships? Only you can do it. Ensuring the quality of your program? It's the bottom line. Being visible at community events? You have to show up. Responding to emails and requests in a timely fashion? Non-negotiable. But when do you sleep? Eat dinner with your kids? Focus on passions and interests other than your job? If you're always working, you lose a piece of yourself...and even if you are paid well in theory, it can be hard to put a price tag on sacrificing so many other parts of your life. As an ED, you need to understand your full job description so that you can knowledgably negotiate your salary and enter your role with eyes wide open. Advocate for yourself as strongly as you will surely advocate for your cause.

It's exhausting to constantly have to inspire people. My EDs often lament about the energy they need to exert in order to recruit board members, motivate staff members, and woo donors to invest in their vision. When you breathe something to life and believe in it with all of your being, it can be downright offensive when people seem uninterested. Having to relay the same story over and over again about your vision, what problem you're solving, and why your organization's impact is worthy of note can be tiring. Conversations will bleed into one another, and it can be hard to remember who has heard a specific story or anecdote. You never want your pitch to get rote, and keeping that spark alive for the 400th time can be an exercise in personal motivation. Some EDs revise their pitch regularly to keep it fresh, and others give themselves a week off here and there where they are largely internal so that they can re-energize.

Even when it's time to go, it's impossible to leave. Because you are so committed to your organization's mission, (this is especially true for founders), and because your identity is so intertwined with your role, it can be extremely difficult to separate from your job. Many EDs worry that they haven't built a strong enough bench to leave the organization in a stable place, and they don't feel comfortable leaving because they are worried things will deteriorate. (Make a note - building a bench is something you should think about long before you ever want to leave your job.) You may feel pressured by outsiders who believe that if you don't stay in your role forever your contributions weren't authentic. This is don't owe your entire life to anyone. It is wrong to negate someone's genuine contributions as they walk out the door in an attempt to dissuade them or others from leaving. EDs can set the tone for this by being genuinely appreciative for the contributions of their staff and board, and by treating any departures with graciousness.

Want to read more?  Click here for the original article.

Image courtesy of hywards at

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

@WildApricot - Highlighting their Volunteer Appreciation Guide

Wild Apricot, a web-based software for small associations and non-profits to help manage membership, website, events and other activities, spend a lot of time on their blog talking about volunteering.  As we all know, most associations rely heavily on their volunteers to ensure that special programs, events, and other initiatives go off "without a hitch".

When searching for articles to reference for a blog on showing appreciation to your volunteers, I came across their Volunteer Appreciation Guide, and frankly, it hit the mark by talking about everything I was going to.  So instead of re-inventing the wheel, I thought I would showcase some highlights:

Why Do People Volunteer:

  • to make a contribution to the community - 93%
  • to use their skills and experiences - 78%
  • personally affected by the organization’s cause - 59%
  • to explore one’s own strengths - 48%
  • to network with or meet people - 46%
  • because their friends volunteer - 48%
  • to improve job opportunities - 22%
  • to fulfill religious obligations or beliefs - 21%

Volunteer recognition best practices

Make it a priority. Recognizing the work of volunteers is crucial for any organization that wants to retain its volunteers and attract new ones. Designate someone in your organization to be responsible for ensuring that ongoing recognition of volunteers takes place.

Do it often. Recognition of volunteers should happen on a year-round, frequent and informal basis. Begin by saying “thank you” often!

Do it in different ways. Vary your recognition efforts, from the informal thank you and spontaneous treats to more formal events. Here are some examples:

Be sincere. Make each occasion to recognize volunteers meaningful and an opportunity to reflect on the value volunteers bring to your organization.

Recognize the person, not the work. It’s best to phrase recognition to emphasize the contribution of the individual and not the end result. “You did a great job!” as opposed to “This is a great job!”

Want to read more?  Click here for the full article!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at