Association Management: How To Follow Through On Change

Last week we discussed how to conquer feeling overwhelmed at work. People are busier than ever before yet feel like they are not doing enough. In order to beat this feeling we need to establish then follow a formalized process. The second thing we went over last week was what questions to ask when starting a new project. By asking those questions we were able to find out if projects are being started with the intent to finish them.

These questions should also be used to prioritize current projects. Think of your own portfolio, do any projects have start dates more than a year old? What about three years old, or even five? Don’t worry you’re not alone. We all bite off more than we can chew. It is part of human nature.

So what do you need to do to make sure your tasks are achievable?


Brutally Prioritize

Having major projects that are never going to be completed stresses managers and employees out. During the prioritization of major projects team members say things like, “no it doesn’t support our strategy at all, but it’s a really nice project.” Remember human nature means that employees and managers often tie their worth to the number of projects on their list. This makes prioritization very difficult. It is one of the key reasons we generally avoid real and meaningful prioritization.

Keep in mind that more priorities can be accomplished over time if you tackle less at any one time. Increased productivity with decreased stress is good association management.

Eat The Elephant

We have all heard the expression that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

Big, complex actions do seem overwhelming until they are broken down into something manageable, measurable, and achievable. You need to determine the best process for eating your elephant and then stick to it.

Association Management: We Need to Change the Way We Work

Take a minute to consider the changing nature of work. Think about how the demands in your work have changed in the past 5 years. Think about how you need to work today compared to 5 years ago. Think about the complexity, variety, and busyness of the work you do every day.

Everything you do is more automated and more process driven. Organizations work much differently, but individual practices and association management have not evolved that much. This is the principle reason why people feel like they are busier than ever before, yet have this sinking feeling of never getting enough done.

So how do you conquer feeling overwhelmed?

Is your team feeling overwhelmed?

Does your team struggle to accomplish tasks?

Follow a Process . . . Any Process

To do this consider how you need to change the way you work and build a very simple process. It will bring structure and discipline to how you work. Be formal about using the process in your own work. Do not be afraid to blame it if things go wrong. In the end this will help you build a stronger and more streamlined process. 

Intend to Finish What You Start

You will never finish something successfully if there was never true and supported intent to complete it. Here are nine questions you can ask to determine the intent:

  1. What is the current situation that makes this project or initiative worthwhile?
  2. What are the desired and expected outcomes that will be achieved as a result of this project?
  3. Precisely how will the success of the project or initiative be measured?
  4. Precisely how will completion of the project be measured?
  5. What precise process will be be followed and who specifically will be responsible to measure and report on project completion and outcomes?
  6. What will ensure at least the core project team can and will dedicate at minimum 20% of their time to this project?
  7. What will ensure the operational managers of the key project team have a plan in place to backfill operational duties?
  8. Is there a real and enforceable mechanism to ensure project team members dedicate at least the agreed amount of time to the project? 

Next week you’ll learn how to effectively prioritize all the major projects in your organization.


Why Association Managers Should Abolish Meeting Minutes


At the end of Peter Wright’s webinar on getting more tasks achieved in a hectic work environment participants asked some compelling questions.

The question we’re discussing today is: “Will minutes of meetings always remain an effective way to prioritize?”

Peter said most meeting minutes are actually a waste of time. Instead he’s a strong proponent of only recording critical items.

The critical items

Action items: Write down what your team is working on next. This keeps team members accountable to each other and stops potential miscommunication.

Outcomes: Track the outcomes of actions your team has taken from meeting to meeting. This will prompt high level discussion among team members and has the potential to improve your association’s best practices. This record also allows your team to celebrate their successes or make improvements if they struggled.

Responsibilities: A record of each team member’s responsibilities keeps their workloads manageable. A team member with too much or too little to do will under perform.

Timelines: Assign due dates for projects. It will help meeting attendees manage their time and workload more efficiently. Timelines and due dates also foster a culture of accountability in your association.

Decisions: Record each major decision to keep team members accountable and in sync. This will also prevent potential conflict or confusion at future meetings.

Use a flip chart

Recording notes on a flip chart keeps them public and limits the amount of space they can take up. If you have more than 15 or 20 bullet points on your chart you’ve got too much. Should that happen your team can cross out excess or unimportant items together. By providing your team with a visual reference you ensure everyone is literally staying on the same page.

What about X, Y and Z?

As association managers or members there is no reason to record things that fall outside of the above categories. The discussion that is not recorded has value in the meeting itself. In fact the collaborative discussion making process is what creates the items that are written down. So the process is important but tracking it step by step is not.

Reducing notes from meetings down to critical items will increase your team’s comprehension. Recent studies have shown university students who take copious notes don’t understand the intent of what they are being taught. Similarly meeting attendees who try to remember each detail miss the bigger picture.  

A sharp-eyed association executive must be constantly on the lookout for ways to promote their organization’s brand.


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Association Managers Meeting