Association Assessments: Critical for New CEO
On their first day, new Association CEO’s realize they are months away from making final decisions or presenting recommendations to their Board of Directors. Most of what they need to get their arms around is identified in a thorough Association wide assessment. It’s a challenging and critical task. Done well, the new Leader can establish firm footing with their stakeholders, and launch their Association on a path of satisfaction and unheralded revenue and membership growth.
CEO’s who worked through this experience understand this process can be either a game maker or a game breaker. There is ample evidence supporting the connection between record performance and a well executed Assessment process.
Know What You Don’t Know
In any transition the Board of Directors expects a complete review of the Association. Consequently the new CEO should be prepared to aggressively pursue a thorough Assessment as much as they did their job. Some call the process ripping the bark off the tree while others view this initiative as peeling back the layers of an onion.
Utilizing the three step process, Data Driven Strategies, Core Connections and Member Engagement process, new CEO’s can inventory key gaps and include these and recommendations in a board presentation. It’s important to engage the staff team as much as possible throughout the process. Transitions by nature are disruptive; involving staff does help maintain good morale.
1. Data Driven Strategies – Measure the actual impact the association has in real time, and take extra steps to obtain business intelligence. Soon enough it will help align the association’s strategies to member’s “pain point” issues.
Action Steps: Confirm veracity of the Association’s financial standing including cash flow and cash balances. Confer with the Auditors, review at least three years’ worth of audits. Conduct a market competitiveness assessment, define member pain points, review existing contracts, and confirm there are no pending or threatened or legal action against the Association. Become familiar with governance issues as quickly as possible.
2. Core Connections – Determine to what extent the Association is positioned to help member companies achieve their business objectives.
Action Steps: Review staffing structure, annual budget, advocacy agenda, products and services, website, social media strategy, position descriptions and performance objectives. These all must mirror “pain point” issues, those that don’t can be included in a board action plan.
3. Member Engagement – A new CEO must identify whether or not member company executives view participation as impactful. Why? Securing the member revenue base is critical, steps must be taken to understand if members feel engaged with their Association.
Action Steps: Review participation data at all programs and conferences from all member companies. Large Trade Associations should assess participation from their largest dues paying members. The data may reveal significant gaps that must be addressed.
Association Assessments: Critical for New CEO
With a completed Assessment, new CEO’s are prepared to share recommendations with their Board of Directors for feedback and approval. Board leaders appreciate the candor. A forward looking vision that engages members, achieves member satisfaction, and delivers durable revenue growth is a win for the new Chief Executive.
While the temptation to take more immediate action is tempting, a thorough assessment will help new Executives build growth focused Association (see blog post http://bit.ly/17838wi). The process may take three to six months to complete, CEO’s will not regret time and effort invested. It’s better to “identify the good, the bad and the ugly up front” says Paul T. Stalknecht, President and CEO, Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).
Commercial Real Estate Finance Council (CREFC) CEO Steve Renna completed an exhaustive assessment process. Experiencing double digit revenue growth and growing conference attendance confirms how important it is for a new CEO to learn as much as possible before moving forward(see blog post http://bit.ly/117oxC3).
New CEO’s please note: In an era of ongoing uncertainty, top to bottom assessments of can position you and your Association for revenue and membership growth.
Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com,www.icimo.com,and www.verticalleapconsulting.com.