3 factors to keep in back of mind as you consider your year ahead. Can’t look at committees, sections and volunteers in a vacuum, part of larger context – both your org and society. Online communities/social media tools (like Twitter, LinkedIn) are providing members professional development resources, professional recognition/branding, business development opportunities, networking.4 out of 5 online adults participate in a social network. Fastest growing group are 45-54 year olds. Not a fad, here to stay.Will be a threat if you don’t provide at least the same value and be where your members are.
In light of changes like online communities or recession, time to reexamine business as usual. Leaders (stewards of assn)– imagine different futures for your assn, what would be ideal for assn and work toward making it a reality. Be willing to experiment – fail – innovate. Bring new thinking into old spaces. Beware the leadership bubble. Everyone needs a dumb guy – the one with the different perspective who asks the questions that aren’t so obvious to you anymore. Relevance doesn’t inspire, create evangelists, or buzz.
Younger generations have different perspectives on participation and governance.Digital natives. Collaborative – open source – transparent - online games. Immediate feedback. Life with more choices, more opptys to try things out, take risks. Expect a balanced life
Renegade sections – do you know their motivation for deviating from assn policy? Is there regular communication between assn leadership and section leadership? Is assn leadership accessible to section leadership? Do your section leaders/members have a voice in your strategic plan’s listening/collecting data phase? It’s hard to be invested in assn plan/goals when you had nothing to do with its formation renegades.Are committee chairs aware of strategic plan goals? Are they made champions of achieving those plan goals? Is committee work aligned with those goals? Are they held accountable? Is there regular reporting on progress made?
Make the right choices when appointing chairs. They must be leaders, managers, marketers and recruiters. Big job so one person should only hold one leadership/chair position. Motivation – interested in committee’s work, to serve org, to get others involved – not ego. Willing to share the benefit of volunteering – not a martyr leader. Must delegate work to others. Must have attitude of training others to do the chair’s job. Must have social capital – influencer, networked, energy, likability – so they can recruit others to volunteer. Willing to innovate, listen, receptive to new ideas, and not threatened by younger generation moving up to take on responsibility. What to do with those members who can’t take you into future (aren’t willing to change, aren’t receptive to new ideas, aren’t willing to share leadership). Perhaps they can mentor/advise newer leaders.
Best way to motivate and support your leaders – help them build skills as leaders.Leadership development - not just for your board& chairs, but for anyone wholeads others, even on a small team. Not just once a year, but throughout the year.Build your assn’s strategic capacity. Train leaders on how to run meetings (consent agendas, strategic discussions, make meetings the highlight of someone’s day), how to break down projects into tasks and how to delegate responsibilities to others; how to recruit/market volunteering as a benefit of membership. Share leadership development resources – quick reads (blog posts, articles), webinars. Create modules for committee meetings – 15 minutes on a topic. Partner with chambers and other orgs to share formal leadership education with each other at member rates.
People want transformation -being absorbed in a task, giving their whole selves for a higher mission.Example – common movie storyline is the transformation of a character, a trip we want to take. Transformational organizations – Marines, AA – where a person transforms into a new person. Transformational experience through volunteer experience is a benefit of membership. That’s why we can’t tolerate martyr leaders, those who don’t delegate work or get others involve in leadership, who do it all. Association as the vehicle to learn, grow and contribute – it may be the only vehicle for transformation that a member has.
Inventory your members so you can match them to appropriate volunteer opportunities. Call new members, send out inventory to current members at least once a year. Calls are better than mail.
Motivations for volunteering – learning skills that will benefit one’s career (mastery), meaningful service (purpose – not wasting their time), developing relationships, belonging to a community. Dan Pink’s 3 motivators: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Self-direction leads to engagement while micro-management leads to merely compliance. Give your members the freedom on the “how.”
Factors that dissuade someone from giving time to volunteering - bad experience(at your assn or even elsewhere), for example, poorly run meetings, micro-managing leaders, disorganization, boring perfunctory meetings, feeling that time and talent are wasted; poor communication - no follow-up on volunteer inquiries, not enough information about available opportunities, when/where meetings are held; no recognition – no thanks. Time commitment – there’s often a misperception that the only way to contribute is on a committee or board. Need to publicize all volunteer opportunities. Need to have several ways that someone can contribute an hour/month or an hour/every two months.Potential volunteers put off by perception that there is a pecking order to getting to serve on committees or get into leadership. Many are ready and skilled to be leaders but aren’t tapped for that because they “must pay their dues” and follow a certain path. Younger generations have no patience for that. Remove barriers to volunteering – how easy do you make it for a new or current member to find a low-time commitment way to help out? Do you publicize those opportunities? (e-newsletters, web site, event PowerPoint, flyers, Facebook page, twitter, get creative about how you get the word out) If you have a member (young or older) with leadership skills, how difficult is it for them to find a way to be a leader at your assn?
This is the age of the ad-hoc (or episodic) volunteer – they’re looking for quick ways to help out. All your committees/sections should work on a list of low-time commitment ways that someone can participate. Spread the benefit of volunteering. Get the word out on these easy ways to help.Teach your leaders how to delegate and create the expectation that they must do this. Share the benefit of leadership. No more martyr leaders who try to do it all and tap the same committee members over and over to do work. Expand your corps of workers. Break down tasks, publicize these opportunities and delegate them to others (especially to non-committee members).Encourage informal or ad-hoc groups to take on new projects and tasks.Encourage work groups or committees to meet in different venues to keep things lively.Work can be done together online using free (or very cheap) wikis or LinkedIn’s Hubble application – especially good for doing work like breaking down tasks, getting members to sign up for tasks, creating master (and editable) lists, etc.
Worker Bees of theBar Association World:Working withCommittees & SectionsAmerican Bar Association2010 Bar Leadership Institute
Today’s Goals 21st Century Context Challenge of Stagnant Committees & Renegade Sections Recruiting, Motivating & Supporting Chairs Getting & Keeping Your Worker Bees Next Steps to Consider
Be a 21st Century Association Reexamine Experiment (and fail) Innovate Relevance is too low a bar to set
Generations X and Y Digital natives Collaboration Feedback Choices Balance
Stagnant Committees & Renegade Sections Voice heard? Invested in plan? Aware of goals? Work aligned with goals? Accountable?
Choosing the Right Chairs Motivations Social capital Not a martyr Forward-thinking One job per person
Support & Motivate Build learning into all leadership roles. Meetings 101 Break down Delegate Recruit
Worker Bees Tap into the latent talent being wasted in your organization. Offer a transformational experience.
Know your members Interests Prof dev needs Skills and experience Time commitment Social networks
Motivators Career benefit Meaningful service Relationships Community
Demotivators Bad experience Time commitment Pecking order Lack of information
New Ways to Work Ad hoc volunteers Delegate Fun Informal groups New venues and tools
Ideas to Take Home Get buy-in of plan and goals Deep and continual leadership training Member inventory Break down and delegate tasks Publicize ad-hoc opportunities Remove barriers to involvement Open to new ideas and ways of working
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