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Association Management is a Team Sport

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 25, 2019

By Beth Quick-Andrew, CAE, Q&A Business Solutions 

With a Major League Baseball game on in the background as I write this article, I am reminded of why I am such a big baseball fan. Baseball is a great metaphor for association management. We must work together at all levels of the organization in order to put a great team on the field to ensure a win for our players…our valued members!

Welcome to the Show!

When a baseball player starts in a major league game, it is a lifelong dream realized. When a member joins his or her professional or trade association, it solidifies his or her commitment to their profession or industry. At the national or international level, major league resources such as industry research, large conferences with varied education and sponsors, call in help desks for questions, affinity discount programs, just to name a few are available to members at their fingertips. Members may join their national/international professional or trade association by way of a chapter or member section, having had a great experience connecting with peers geographically or by specialization.

Conversely, national/international members join a chapter or member section to have a more individualized connection to the association. Components provide local or regional networking opportunities with the ability to truly connect face-to-face with peers in the profession or industry. The value of face-to-face interaction is immeasurable. This is where a referral may be given, a deal may be made, or a job lead is handed off. This teamwork happens when people unite for a common purpose. 

Follow the Same Game Plan

To generate a win for the members, it is important that all levels of the organization follow the same game plan. Best-selling author Simon Sinek reminds us in Start with Why to focus on why the organization exists and how each level of the organization can support the why. What does this mean for the association at all levels:
  • We are all on the same team. Members are not “your members” (visualize finger pointing at each other) …they are “our members” collectively regardless of national/international or chapter membership. We are all on the same team.
  • National/International staff is not the umpire who misses a call. There is no need for chapter managers to charge out of the dugout and argue the call. Don’t assume ill intent. Generally, there are very valid reasons for any decision.
  • Whenever possible, it important to keep all team members in the loop when decisions are being made and avoid unilateral decisions that impact multiple levels of the organization. Make sure the signs are communicated effectively.
  • Teams get off track when team members don’t feel heard. Listen to what each member of the team is communicating. Keep the focus on a winning strategy for all members.
  • Professionals manage the association at all levels. Don’t assume that a chapter administrator/executive is just “an admin doing nametags.” Many chapters are managed by association management professionals who hold the CAE credential and/or work for Association Management Companies. They swing for the fences every day.
  • A key to team success is positioning members where they can be the most successful. Some member offerings are best done with the resources of the National/International organization. Others may be best offered through a chapter or component. Levels of the organization should not be mutually exclusive, but rather complementary. One player rarely makes a double play alone.
Put Them in the Hall of Fame
  • Success is the residue of hard work and lots of practice. Celebrate those successes and engender innovation at all levels of the organization. Awards programs are great for recognizing the unique, creative and impactful member efforts to advance the mission of the association.
Game time situations require different strategies depending on a variety of factors. Always remember, a grand slam can happen with any combination of base hits, walks and a big home run. Make sure your coaching staff is focused on positioning members to swing for the fences no matter where they are in your organization.

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