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I love working for a board.
One of the unique attributes of an association is to have a board that represents members. The CEO/president/executive director has as an element of their scope of work to mentor, advise and care for the board. For some this is a challenge, for others it is a treat.
I am in the latter group. I really do love working for a board. Because a board gives the organization and myself a diversity of perspectives. They also tend to be more innovative on how to advance the industry and the association. They balance each other to provide strengths and insights when we need them.
The certified association executive (CAE) content outline indicates that an association chief staff executive usually spends more than 15 percent of their time on board and governance issues. Doug Eadie, author of the board savvy CEO, espouses that a nonprofit executive should spend 20 percent on governance. Wow! That is a full day a week. This is because it is essential to have good leadership system wide.
MSAE's Leadership Identification Committee just met. They used to be the Nominating Committee, but now have a broader role. They not only recommend the next board leaders based on the direction of the strategic plan, but they are working on a program to build the future leaders. As a result the MSAE board is comprised of thought leaders. They are some of the most successful association executives in the state because of how they think and treat their members. I grow just being able to work with them.
The leaders over the years have made sure that MSAE has services available to support associations. For example, MSAE has been assisting organizations with executive search assistance for nearly 20 years. I am proud that 90 percent of the searches we worked with still have that executive in place today. One of the most important questions I and the search committee ask is about the perspective of the candidate on their philosophy of the board. This tells me a lot about the candidate’s leadership. Those that have had issues with a board and carry that baggage are eliminated. A good association chief staff executive maximizes the value of the board.
The services include a suite developed to help CEOs and the board. The Extraordinary Board Orientation training offered twice a year, June 13 and December 12, 2017, is an affordable training opportunity for the members of the board and the CEO. The full day workshop transforms boards from ordinary to extraordinary. Participants learn the difference between governing and managing, innovative ways to orient new board members, and how to assure accountability and transparency. I also have conducted personalized board training for a host of boards based on what they need to be better at governance.
Our new program of helping with environmental scanning in a preferred future exercise and report has been revolutionary for members. It focuses on what the industry can expect and how the organization can play a role in creating the preferred future. It has energized the organizations and made the role of the board clearer. It takes strategic planning to a new level of looking at the impact the association can have on the industry and the environment the industry works in rather than just being association centric.
Do you love working for a board? What needs to be changed to make the board more effective? This is your job, so make the most of it. If you need help call on us. We want you and the board to be the best you can be.
Every association is different. But no matter who you are or whom you represent, one thing is for certain: there is lot of work to be done.
Whether it’s managing members, raising funds, contending with new rules and regulations, or delivering quality programs that serve your mission, there is only so much that can be done in a given day, week, or year.
And that’s not when you’re trying to hire new employees or keep existing ones, or reduce overhead costs, or stay up to date with new technology and ways of communicating.
Does this sound stressful? Perhaps a bit. But that’s part of the job — managing people, processes, finances, and beyond.
The most successful associations are efficient, tech-savvy, and skilled at communicating with members, sponsors, and their local (and online) communities.
Another trait these associations share: They track employee time.
With MSAE’s new organizational membership model, our membership has more than doubled to over 1,700 members. No longer are we an association just for the Chief Staff Executive…we’re here to serve the entire association staff. During the past year, we’ve created many new programs, webinars, peer-to-peer community of practice groups, and resources to address the needs of all staff levels.
An employment handbook is a critical tool for communicating to employees. It provides employees one place to get everything they need to know about their employment. By clearly laying out what the organization expects of them as well as what they can expect from the organization, it lays the groundwork for an open, positive work relationship.