Wednesday, October 2, 2013

3 things that make me crazy at banquet events ...

Not only do I plan events, but I attend a large number of events. Here are three things that make me crazy:

1. Centerpieces that block the view of half the table: What's the point of being seated with 8 or 10 people if you can't even see half of them because of the centerpiece, much less be able to engage them through the centerpiece? There are plenty of nice ways to decorate a table that won't block the view of others at the table.

2. Those stretchy chair covers that totally cover the chair legs: Remember when our legs didn't bounce off the chair covers at events? Whoever created those stretchy covers has turned already uncomfortable event chairs into ones that require you to stretch your legs out in front of you at a table. And forget about being able to put anything under the chair. While I know it makes the space look nicer to have covered chairs ... UGH!

3. The band that plays loudly during dinner: I was recently at an event where I spent the dinner either screaming at the person directly next to me so he could hear me or we both were saying over and over, "what did you say, what did you say" ... Whatever happened to nice, quiet background music at banquets that accommodates conversations?

Events should strive to encourage conversation at the banquet tables; and be as comfortable as possible.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

6 Words that Stop Change at Associations

There are 6 words that routinely stop change at Associations: "But that will set a precedent."  With a precedent of course being assumed to be a bad thing.

Here are a few thoughts on getting past the dreaded precedent-setting:

1.  Call it a pilot program.  Then it is clear it's a test and may or may not ever apply again.

2.  Make it clear why it's one-time in an explanatory to a decision. "Due to the current market conditions ...", "due to an unexpected overage in the fund balance," or whatever provides explanation to do something even if it's never been done before or may not be an option again. Or make it clear what it would take for that same type of approval to happen again.  Seriously, doing something once does not mean you have to do it twice or a hundred times.  I also think if you do something a hundred times, you should also be able to never do that again.

3.  Let it set a precedent.  What if the precedent-setting option is actually the best approach?  If the fear is that it might be popular, evaluate the concern about doing something that might be popular.

There are clearly situations where it may not be at all appropriate to set precedents, such as with personnel policies.  But with many association programs and general association policies, maybe taking a leap of faith by trying something once won't be such a bad idea.  At least don't kill an idea just by saying it will set a precedent.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Return to Blogging - and "Most Obvious Lessons"

The past few months have been filled with personal and professional transitions - left a job (and membership) I loved after 24 years due to a relocation, changed states, consulted, participated in a lot of association executives meetings, interviewed for a new job, facilitated a search for a new CEO, started a new job, bought a new house, and more.  Which means I have lots of association management blog topic content; so it's time to return to blogging.

My first post has to be a highlight of my good friend Judith Lindenau's blog about what she learned as an Interim Association Executive.

Here are Judith's top 6 "most obvious lessons" for association execs:

1.  It's not 'them or us.' (Cindy adds: that includes treating boards and their staff like partners!)
2.  It's also the AEs job to provide perspective.
3.  Have a good, memorable (by everyone) mission statement.
4.  Only spend money on things that enable the mission statement.  Notable quote: "Be brutal about eliminating the programs and services which don’t serve the members. One heads up trick is to divide the total expense of a program or service by the number of real, live members who actually paid money to get it." (Cindy adds: Amen!)
5.  Get the association governing docs together.
6.  Teach leadership skills.  Notable quote: "Unfortunately, most 'Leadership Conferences' don’t teach the practical aspects of leadership ... The techniques of managing meetings, setting work goals, forming communities - those essential skills are often neglected and volunteers are left untrained and uninformed."

And ... "what a wealth of knowledge and support Realtor AEs are to each other."  Judith is a wealth of knowledge and support!

Read her entire blog post here.

What I know for sure is there are hundreds of things to learn or know as an association executive.  Judith's "most obvious lessons" are crucial ones.