About John H. Ganoe, CAE

CAMICB is a 20-year-old independent board that sets the standards for community association managers worldwide. CAMICB is the first and only organization created solely to certify community association managers and enhance the professional practice of community association management.

The Secret To Teamwork Isn’t Managing Personalities

By Ted Leonhardt for Fast Company, dated 01-09-2018.

Stop trying to turn everyone into “team players.” Here’s how to set a baseline that everybody can commit to–no matter how different they are.

When I started out as an illustrator and designer, I focused way too much on myself. I thought I was only expected to do the work I was skilled at, figuring that the task of getting everyone on my team to pull together was our boss’s job, not mine.

That assumption wound up hurting me. I didn’t understand how to communicate. I followed my own agenda, unwittingly adding to team drama with unhelpful gossip. And when one of my first performance reviews included a critique from my supervisor that I wasn’t a “team player,” I actually took it as a compliment: “Team players” were losers, and I was a uniquely gifted winner. I quit soon afterward.

It took me a while to shake that egotism–and learn not only that teamwork makes everybody’s work better, but also that you don’t have to surrender your personality to be a team player. As a manager, I’ve since learned how to ask employees to focus more on their team without having to downplay their individual strengths and quirks. The secret is simple: It all comes down to the norms you set.

Getting To Know Your Norms

Norms, for starters, are expected shared behavior. No matter what they consist of, they’re the known but mostly unspoken “way we do things around here.”

Teams can have strikingly different social behaviors and still produce exceptional work. I’ve seen teams with an informal brainstorming process–they always went off track during team meetings–be just as successful as extremely formal teams that were totally goal-focused. What matters isn’t the style of behavior, but that all team members feel good about that style.

This also leaves room for individuals to improvise and do their own thing. If one team member’s approach to a certain task differs from her coworkers but they’re similar in style (if not substance), chances are they’ll still be able to collaborate. The norms govern a certain set of behaviors that bind the team members together. As long as everyone’s broadly in sync with them, you won’t need to spell out a best practice for every single task or activity. In general, norms must accomplish these five things:

  1. Guide how much personal sharing is part of team meetings.
  2. Determine how critical feedback is shared and how praise is used.
  3. Keep the group from splitting into cliques and factions.
  4. Be inclusive and serve as a binding agent that holds everyone together, even when opinions differ significantly.
  5. Prove strong enough to ensure that even divisive opinions are respected and encouraged (since they’re often where the best solutions come from).

If a team member or leader breaks with these norms, they do so at the risk of diverting the team’s attention away from the shared goal. Best of all? Encouraging and enforcing your team norms frees managers from having to do the impossible and “manage” their team members’ personalities

Embodying Your Team’s Norms

Once you’ve identified your norms, it’s easy to draw up more specific guidelines that reflect them. Here are a few that I’ve found are especially helpful for managing teams of creative people whose personalities may be more likely to clash:

Manners matter. Civility provides a feeling of safety. Once civility becomes the norm, it’s easier for team members to do work that challenges each other as well as conventional wisdom. As long as you can be civil in the way you disagree with each other, you can put forward radically different ideas in pursuit of a shared goal.

Inclusion. If civility helps everyone feel respected by their coworkers, inclusion is what lets everybody feel equally valued and empowered. In meetings, for example, this norm might dictate that all team members speak for roughly an equal amount of time. Those who really listen to each other feel respected, included, and at ease sharing decision-making power evenly.

Dependability. For the team to succeed, each member must not only commit to doing their share of the work, they must also complete it on time. The simple tenet of always doing your part and honoring your commitments is fundamental to any cohesive team.

Role clarity. Each team member has to know their own role, be completely committed to it, and understand how it supports the roles of the others. This is what gives team members confidence in their value to the group and in their colleagues’ contributions.

Higher purpose. Everybody needs to grasp why we’re doing what we’re doing and believe that it matters. That underlying sense of purpose is (ideally, anyway) what motivates everyone to make an earnest effort individually.

Honest critique. This one is sometimes under-appreciated, but effective teamwork depends on being able to step back and question how the work is progressing and whether it’s serving the goals. Effective critiques challenge and examine different approaches, thinking, and methods, sometimes leading to a change in direction. This type of feedback needs to focus on the work, not the person who did it; done wrong, criticism can stir up vulnerable feelings of not being good enough rather than strengthen everybody’s stake in the process.

Healthy controversy. Seemingly risky or silly ideas are essential to collaboration. Encourage your team members to ask challenging questions and look for unusual solutions. A committed, supportive team creates an emotional environment where controversy can flourish and be positively channeled.

No bad behavior. Damaging interpersonal behavior is off-limits. That means no personal gossip, no back-channeling, no undermining, and no shaming or blaming.

You’ll notice that these norms and guidelines don’t have much to say on the question of personality type–and that’s by design. Rather than managers or team members adapting their approach to the personality of whoever they’re working with at a given moment, norms set a common baseline. This way, everyone knows how to behave to be a “team player”–even though they may be a proud individualist at the same time.

How to Set Career Goals for 2018

From Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Professionals.

A new year is the perfect time to set some career goals. HR expert Pamela Green shares some tips on how to do so.

Have you decided on your New Year’s resolutions or thought about your career goals for 2018?

Refreshed by some time off work over the holidays and filled with excited anticipation about what the next year might hold, many people use the new year as a time to set career goals. But, according to statistics, 80 percent of resolutions are likely to fail by February and only 8 percent of people are successful at following through on their resolutions.

Does that mean setting resolutions is hopeless and you should quit before you’ve even begun? Of course not. Here are a few tips to set you up for success from Pamela Green, president and CEO of the HR Coaching Institute:

Step back and look at the big picture. Before you start making individual career goals, Green said it’s important that you take a moment to ask, “What do I ultimately want to achieve or become?” Possible answers to this question might include a desire to make more money, to move into management, to become known as a thought leader, among others. Setting that ultimate goal is important because it enables you to stay focused and reminds you of why you’re working hard to achieve your goals in the first place.

Set realistic, specific goals. Most people come to coaching sessions with a long list of goals that they want to achieve, but Green recommends setting no more than three goals within a given timeframe. She also recommends setting yourself up for success by setting micro-goals within those larger goals. For instance, if your big goal is to complete a specific online certificate program, go ahead and sign up for it—and then schedule which nights you’ll study and which nights you’ll take the tests. That way, you’re tying actions to your big goal of becoming certified, and you can celebrate those mini wins along the way.

Set deadlines. “In addition to people having too many goals that they’re trying to achieve all at once, sometimes they have no deadline,” Green said. “There’s nothing that they’re trying to beat. [A deadline] also helps hold attention, keeping them accountable and driving toward something.” Still, these should be realistic, too: For instance, if it’s annual conference time at your association and you’re a meeting planner, it might not be the best time to also race through a certification class.

Find an accountability partner. Green recommends enlisting someone outside of the office to keep you accountable to your goals. This could be as easy as having a five-minute check-in, where someone asks you questions like: How did you do on your goal this week? If things didn’t go so well, why? How are you going to get back up tomorrow? “Get someone that you trust that will tell you the truth in love,” she said. “And then have a backup person, when that person’s pressure becomes white noise to you. It should be someone that you respect and needs to be someone that you will listen to.”

Pump Up Interest in HOA Meetings

Reproduced from Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives. Written by Samantha Whitehorne.

Study shows that people who attend meetings are interested in learning something.

While every organization’s meeting is different, their attendees all have something in common: They are discerning travelers with high expectations.

That’s one of the takeaways of the second part of the Decision to Attend study (DTA2), which surveyed 8,992 current and prospective attendees.

Another positive data point from the study: 91 percent of respondents possess the will or strong propensity to continue their personal and professional education as adult learners. In other words, people are looking to attend association meetings. But how do you get them there?

As with the previous survey done in 2014, DTA2 revealed the same top-three drivers for getting attendees onsite: education, destination, and networking.

When it comes to education, 92 percent said education is important, whether it comes from an education session or the exhibit floor, while 67 percent said keeping up or staying abreast of their industry or profession is very important. For meeting planners, this means that education should always be a strong component of the promotional message, regardless of generation or attendance frequency.

As for destination, 71 percent of all generations said location factors into their decision—with 20 to 30 percent saying it’s the deciding factor. Also mentioned was the importance of experiencing new destinations. For planners, this means promoting cool or new things to do in the location can tip a maybe attendee to the yes list.

Besides education and destination, attendees also want the ability to network with colleagues. More than 75 percent of respondents in all age groups said it’s important for a meeting to give them opportunities to make connections, with 49 percent of millennials rating it as very important—the highest of all generations. Study authors say impromptu meetups on topics or special interests will help fulfill this attend need.

Just as certain elements drive attendees to meetings, barriers can keep them away. As in the 2014 survey, four categories emerged: cost, timing, destination appeal, and getting approval. To overcome the cost barrier, the study suggests groups consider offering attendees discounts on food and transportation, as well as installment payments for registration.

To read more about the study, head to TheExperienceInstitute.org.


More Productive Workers? Get Them to Stop Working!

6 strategies to help employees recover and refuel.

What do Facebook, Google, and Bain & Company have in common? They all are recognized as Best Places to Work in 2017 by Glassdoor, and they all offer their employees opportunities to recover from work. We don’t think this is a coincidence. In fact, one of the most important things organizations can do to boost productivity is actually to get their employees to stop working.

Thanks to modern technology, many employees work around the clock. One study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) found that, on average, professionals, managers, and executives are connected to their work 72 hours a week. While it might seem like these extended hours result in a more productive workforce, this is not the case. In fact, the inability to “switch off” has been linked to lower productivity and higher health risks.

Human beings aren’t meant to work continuously for lengthy periods of time without rest. We function best cyclically, shifting between periods of work followed by rest. Modern tools, such as smartphones, that extend the workday interrupt that natural cycle, compromising effectiveness. Without sufficient downtime, productivity declines, no matter how much effort is expended.

Overworked employees aren’t a benefit; they are a cost. It is estimated that the cost of lost productivity due to lack of sleep alone is approximately $63 billion per year. Employees who are overworked are likely to be unfocused and poor at making decisions. An overworked employee is also more likely to make mistakes that have to be fixed afterward, creating even more work by him or herself, or another employee.

Helping employees learn how to recover from their work can improve a company’s return on investment (ROI). Here are some strategies used by today’s top companies to help employees recover and refuel:

  1. Encourage disconnecting from work. While disconnecting from work used to happen naturally at the end of the workday, today’s workers need help disconnecting from the 24/7 work culture. Leaders can do this by letting employees know they are not expected to check e-mails after work hours. Companies such as Volkswagen actually have shut down servers so employees can’t receive e-mails off-shift. Financial investment agency Motley Fool encourages disconnection by entering all its employees into a monthly raffle to win a two-week vacation, plus $1,500—if they vacation within the month and have no contact with work during their time off. This policy normalizes disconnection, as employees must be prepared to disconnect—and have their colleagues disconnect—at any time.
  2. Let people sleep. Helping employees get adequate sleep is a straightforward way to reduce the damage incurred by overwork. Leaders can cultivate a culture in which getting adequate sleep is seen as part of workplace professionalism. HR professionals can encourage this cultural shift by explaining that exhausted employees make mistakes and bad decisions, and are less able to adapt to changes, and that sleeplessness is linked to serious health issues, such as heart disease and strokes. Companies such as Google have established a pro-napping culture, encouraging employees to literally sleep on the job (and even providing nap pods) if they need to rest during business hours.
  3. Create opportunities to move. While exercise may seem counterintuitive as a method of fueling rest and recovery, it can do just that. The majority of today’s workforce is sedentary—a lifestyle linked to lower energy and higher health risks. Physical activity can boost energy, burn off stress, and clear people’s minds. Organizations can incorporate movement into the workplace by offering standing desks, walking meetings, showers and changing rooms, free exercise programs, and group fitness challenges. For example, Bain & Company has its own “Bain World Cup,” which brings together employees around the world for an annual three-day soccer tournament.
  4. Introduce contemplative activities. Mounting scientific evidence confirms that contemplative practices such as mindfulness, meditation, and yoga improve mental and physical health. These opportunities to take a “time in,” as referred to by Dr. Dan Sigel from the UCLA School of Medicine, can help workers de-stress, renew focus and attention, and feel refreshed throughout a long workday. HR leaders can provide mindfulness training programs, offer contemplative retreats, and provide online resources for employees to engage in mental wellness practices. Many companies offer such programs, including Facebook, Google, Aetna, and General Mills.
  5. Spark social connections. Humans are social creatures and being able to connect with others on a personal level has been shown to lower stress levels and elevate mood, both of which help with recovery. HR leaders can improve the chances of social connections in the workplace by creating opportunities for employees to interact socially—especially across workgroups. Occasions that allow people to connect on a deeper level (e.g., beyond simple “shop talk”), are particularly useful. Motley Fool has a “professional connector”—a person whose job it is to get to know different people in the organization, and connect them to employees with common interests. The “Bain World Cup” (mentioned above) is another great example of getting people to connect socially, while building trust and teamwork.
  6. Savor and celebrate the positives. Recent findings in the field of positive psychology have shown that positive emotions increase energy, creativity, and resilience—but they also fade more quickly than negative emotions. This, coupled with the fact that exhaustion tends to exacerbate negativity, makes a long-hours work culture a breeding ground for pessimism. To counteract this, leaders should look for ways to help their employees celebrate and soak in the positives. Some ways to do this include having awards ceremonies or parties to celebrate good news or creating positivity initiatives that leverage kindness and altruism. Warby Parker, an online prescription glasses company, offers many mood-boosters—such as “photo mash-ups” (funny mash-ups of employee headshots), a crowdsourced office playlist, and a tradition of bursting into random, spontaneous applause, all of which contribute to a positive workplace culture.

Many recovery initiatives reflect more than one strategy. For example, a company-wide party might include aspects of positivity, social connection, and physical exercise. Learning and Development professionals should consider what types of initiatives might work best within their culture.

Research indicates that helping employees learn how to recover from work is arguably the most important learning and development initiative a company can undertake. After all, no other initiatives matter if workers are too drained to do their jobs.

Article Author:
Cathleen Clerkin, Ph.D., Member, Senior Research Faculty; Marian Ruderman, Ph.D., Director, Research Horizons, and Senior Fellow; and Jennifer Deal, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)


5 Reasons Why People Volunteer

“We make a living by what we do. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

Of the many ways to give back, volunteering is one of the most profound. Giving your time and knowledge is invaluable, which is one of the reasons organizations appreciate their volunteers so much.

Volunteerism has been the lifeblood of many groups throughout the centuries and continues to be a driving force today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25.3% of the US population volunteered in 2014. They helped people in need, advanced causes, and furthered organizations.

How many people volunteered at your association? And what brought them to your door?

5 Reasons Why People Volunteer for Associations

Professional volunteers with experience and business instinct are irreplaceable . They can help you power through your to-do list and deliver innovative ideas to members. More importantly, they can help you overcome challenges, including funding issues. Budgets rarely cover everything we want to do and recruiting volunteers is one way your association can meet more of its goals.

But volunteers come to you for different reasons. They’ve learned different skills from each of the jobs and have different motivations, making each volunteer’s contributions unique. If you want these busy professionals to bring their business acumen to your association, coming back month after month and year after year, you have to understand them.

Here are five of the top motivations that drive professional volunteering and how you can make each type of volunteer feel appreciated.

1. Help People

The altruistic among us volunteer just to help others. Your association makes that easy and focuses efforts. When people volunteer with you, they know they’re helping your industry and furthering a mission they care about.

To make your helper volunteers feel appreciated and understand the importance of what they’re doing, show them the people or causes they’re contributing to. For example, volunteers who organized children’s toy donations could go with you to deliver the toys to neighborhood kids. If that’s not possible, tell stories about how they’re helping. Show them pictures. Make them feel they are making a difference.

2. Try a New Role or Develop a New Skill

Often, people want to “audition” a new industry before taking the plunge into a career change. They may also need experience before they can get hired in a different position. Volunteering is a good way to get a flavor for the industry and the skills it requires. Volunteers in this group may want a taste of your industry before they commit.

Give these volunteers as much exposure to people working in the industry as possible. For example, if a volunteer is new to your industry, you could put them in charge of your online community as a moderator or content curator. This will help them get to know industry experts in your community. Make introductions and have volunteers do different tasks over time so they get a feel for the industry before switching careers.

3. Make Business Connections or Friends in the Industry

When people have just landed a new job or moved to a different area of the country, one of the best ways to become professionally connected is through a trade or professional association. Volunteering is a quick and easy way to meet new people.

This volunteer group already knows the ropes and what it’s like to be in the industry, but they want to grow their network. While they’re volunteering, you can help by introducing them to people who have similar backgrounds or have taken similar career paths. They’ll appreciate your help as much as you appreciate theirs.

4. Build Out Their Resume

From college achievements to LinkedIn profiles, people are very conscientious about what’s on their resume and how they can make it more impressive. Many hiring companies and recruiters are looking for professional experience and, in this case, less is not more. Hiring managers want candidates who know what they’re doing.

Volunteering is a great way to gain experience and take on a leadership role, so if you have volunteers who want to beef up their resume, find out what they’re looking for specifically. Do they want to lead or do they just want to list their volunteer position for your association? If someone wants leadership experience, help them get it. Whether it’s with an in-person management position or acting as a facilitator for an online community group, there are leadership roles for every interest and experience level.

5. Be a Part of Something Bigger

Associations are known for making a difference not only in their industries, but in the world at large. They’re part of local, national and international movements, which means you will often have people join because they want to contribute to your mission. They want to make an impact and be part of something bigger than themselves.

To help this volunteer find satisfaction, tell the story of how they’re changing lives or public policy. Make them feel like your organization couldn’t have such a powerful impact without their contributions. Give as many details as possible. Don’t say: “We couldn’t do it without you.” Say: “We couldn’t have provided shoes for 20 underprivileged kids without the letter campaign you spearheaded for us.”

Your Role in Volunteerism

No volunteer, regardless of their motivation, should be left on their own. Even if your volunteers are experts and can fulfil their role without your help, you still need to manage and appreciate them. If you recruit a volunteer and they wait all morning for a project, they probably won’t return.

So make sure you have something for your volunteers to do right away. Give them clear and well-communicated instructions on how to get started. If you have the time, you could even provide an orientation session or tour. Many association have a volunteer coordinator, mentor, or trainer take over orientation so there’s little extra work for staff to take on.

Once volunteers get their feet under them, give them feedback on how they’re doing. Let them know you appreciate them and value their contributions. A volunteer who feels appreciated and as if they’re making a difference is one you’ll see again.

Get to Know Your Volunteers

Your volunteers play a critical role in helping your association meet its goals, but that may not be the reason why people step up to help. By understanding why people volunteer, you can more effectively meet their needs as you further your mission.

Whenever possible, have a candid conversation with each new volunteer to discover why they are volunteering. It’s an essential first step to building a positive relationship and ensuring that everyone walks away a winner.

Reproduced from Higher Logic, LLC. Why Do People Volunteer for Professional Associations and Trade Groups? Written by Julie Dietz on April 18, 2017 at 8:30 AM

Unwrapping 5 gifts of leadership

Adapted from SmartBrief, written by Alaina Love, December 22, 2017.

My instincts were correct. The students peppered my son with all kinds of questions: How did you choose the university that was right for you? How hard was it to settle on a field of study? Do you really believe that you can do anything you set your mind to accomplishing?

On and on the questions flowed until one student’s query struck me as deeply profound.

“What would you tell your younger self,” the student asked. And that’s when the conversation got really interesting.

I thought about how I might answer that question if I were advising a person who hoped to aspire to a position of leadership. What are the most important insights to share with someone at such a pivotal moment in the early stages of their career journey?

I decided to posit that same question to a number of accomplished leaders in different industries. They offered enlightening gifts of insight and experience, from which any young professional with leadership aspirations can benefit.

Gift 1: Prepare for success

Many of the leaders I spoke with highlighted the importance of remaining curious. They emphasized the value of learning as much as you can from colleagues and contacts, staying abreast of industry and competitive trends, and understanding how true value is created in your business. This is the depth of knowledge that positions you for success. It’s also important to prepare through formal education and by leveraging the leadership training offered by your organization.

Jocelyn Johnson, global director, value propositions and insights, at GE Healthcare, advises: “Get into any leadership programs you can. I wish there had been a program like GE’s Commercial Leadership Program when I was first starting out. It gives you a leg up (in your career) that others don’t get.”

Gift 2: To find your passion, start within

A recurring theme in many of the responses I received highlighted the importance of developing deep self-knowledge in order to discover and follow your passions. Beyond this, knowing yourself well supports you in exhibiting authenticity as a leader and staying focused on the present moment, so you’re able to experience the greatest work fulfillment.

“I have come to learn that my leadership manifested itself more naturally and effectively when I was positioned in the roles that indeed were self-gratifying,” said Leroy Jackson, managing director, Accenture Technology. “This revelation has now helped me to realize the importance of being diligent upfront with seeking and accepting opportunities that are truly aligned to my passion. This alignment will certainly benefit me … but more importantly … it will favorably impact the members of my organization who count on my direction and guidance.”

Gift 3: Plan, but with an open mind

The natural tendency of anyone pursuing a leadership career is to carefully plan the path that they think will lead them to a desired position. Yet, the reality of the journey they experience is often starkly different from what was expected. But different isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“Don’t waste too much time planning your career,” says Marc Howells, vice president and head of HR, North America Commercial, for pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. “The only certainty is that it won’t follow that plan — and if you stay open-minded it’ll take you somewhere far more interesting!”

Gift 4: Contribute more than expected

“In order to make the most valued contributions, it’s important to think beyond what’s in the position description,” says Madelyn Jennings, former senior vice president of HR for Gannett. This may sound counterintuitive in industries where employees complain about 70-hour work weeks, but this is about working smarter, not harder. Look for ways to deliver greater value in every assignment you take on. It’s how you’ll differentiate yourself and advance to leadership levels.

Gift 5: Nurture your network

Nearly every leader I spoke with reinforced the importance of building and nurturing a strong network. Not only is your network a source of information and support, but the people in it can influence the trajectory of your career. So, strive to build strong relationships with everyone with whom you interface. And remember, your extended network and colleagues are rich sources of support and insight when tough challenges need bold solutions. Soliciting their input can make a huge difference in your success.

Karen Seymour, vice president, Challenger, Gray and Christmas, and an outplacement and career specialist, advises, “Never try to solve a significant problem without collaboration.”

In the spirit of the season, I encourage you to make a positive difference by sharing the gift of your leadership insight with the next generation. Happy holidays!

Alaina Love is chief operating officer and president of Purpose Linked Consulting and co-author of “The Purpose Linked Organization: How Passionate Leaders Inspire Winning Teams and Great Results” (McGraw-Hill). She is a recovering HR executive, a global speaker and leadership expert, and passionate about everything having to do with, well … passion. Her passion archetypes are Builder, Transformer and Healer. You can learn more about how to grow leaders, build passionate teams and leverage passion to create great customer outcomes here.

When she’s not working with her Fortune 500 client base, Love is busy writing her next book, “Passionality, The Art and Science of Finding Your Passion and Living Your Bliss,” which explores the alignment of personality, purpose and passion, and the science of how it contributes to our well being. Follow Love on TwitterFacebookYouTube or her blog.


3 Steps to Getting the Most Out of Your Professional Development Plan

How to Get the Most Out of Your Professional Development Plan

How to Get the Most Out of Your Professional Development Plan

At MAP, we meet a lot of new clients who tell us they have some sort of professional development plan. But when we ask them where it is, they often sheepishly reply it’s in a drawer somewhere or collecting dust on a shelf. It’s no secret. A plan that’s not being used really isn’t a plan at all. It’s just a piece of paper. And yet regularly revisiting your plan can be a very important driver in your professional growth. When you make a point to check in—whether weekly, monthly or even quarterly—it supports that crucial accountability, giving you a chance to review your strategic activities, assess progress and successes, and identify where you need to course correct to get closer to your professional development goals.

Here’s how to get the most out of your professional development plan:

1. Make Your Plan Visible

Even the most well-intentioned, best-designed plans can get stowed on a shelf or in some forgotten computer file. Don’t give yourself a hard time about why you’ve put it there or overlooked it—just go get it out and put it somewhere visible and easily accessible. Tack it on a corkboard next to your desk. Or post it on the wall next to the office door where you can’t avoid seeing it as you come and go. Then, consider creating a new, perhaps inspiring habit around reviewing it. For example, every first Friday of the month, set aside a half hour to review the plan at your favorite coffee shop, which can serve as both an incentive and a reward. Put this event on your calendar and set up reminders to help you stay on track.

2. Keep Your Plan Fresh

It’s quite possible that your plan may be outdated or could contain certain aspects that need adjustments. After all, a person’s goals can change, as can the strategies and tactics that support them. Know this is normal—perfectly Ok even. And if you’re finding your plan doesn’t feel relevant anymore or that aspects of it aren’t actionable or sustainable, commit to revising and maintaining it. This may mean editing the timeline for certain goals. It could be deleting action items that have been achieved and adding new activities to support a current goal. Refreshing your plan is part of ensuring it’s a living document, or one that’s current and relevant to you today.

3. Know When To Ask For Help

Not everyone’s strength lies in professional planning. What’s more, not all of us have the self-motivation that’s required to see a plan manifest into results and success. If you struggle with your plan’s maintenance, find someone you trust, who has this skill set, and who can lend you a hand. It could be someone who volunteers to mentor or support you in this way. Or it could be someone you hire to be your coach, such as your MAP Consultant. Whomever you choose, make sure this person knows what he or she is doing and can either help hold you accountable to your commitments or assist you in creating accountability strategies you feel you can honor on your own.

What qualities do you look for in a mentor—or someone who can help hold you accountable to your professional development plan?

Check Your Budget Blind Spots

Reproduced from Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives. By / Aug 1, 2017 (Chris Clor/Glow Images)

If you only look directly ahead while planning next year’s expenses and revenue, you’ll miss what’s running alongside you or gaining from behind. And staffers sometimes ignore red flags. Being candid about the numbers and setting up guardrails can improve the process and the outcome.

Budgeting is a necessary part of an association’s life, but it also involves reconciling an inherent contradiction: trying to predict the future, and then attaching hard numbers to the prediction. Add to that challenge department managers who have ample expertise in their disciplines but who aren’t necessarily association finance wizards, and it’s no surprise that budgeting becomes a headache for many organizations.

Staffing, technology, and especially meetings are a few of the major areas where associations often miss the mark on budgeting. But beyond departmental issues, executives and finance experts say, the biggest finance blind spots often involve a failure to think broadly about budget lines. Who takes responsibility for a project that touches multiple departments? Are you properly integrating internal

resources, beyond hard expenses, into project costs? And are you considering the association’s broader financial goals when you’re drawing up next year’s plan?

“Not as much as you ought to” is the general consensus in response to those questions, and a cavalier budgeting approach can have stifling consequences, says Lee Klumpp, director, national assurance, nonprofit and education practice, at BDO.

“People will say, ‘You came in $20,000 over budget. That’s all right.’ Problem is, that’s $20,000 worth of resources that could’ve been used some other way, that wasn’t budgeted for and wasn’t approved,” he says. “But nobody’s been held accountable for it.”

Luckily, some forethought and common sense can go a long way to helping an association budget more accurately.

Our goal is to do better [financially], but we cannot budget on wishes and good intentions.

Zero-Based Budgeting

One of the most common mistakes that many staffers make is to simply plug last year’s numbers into next year’s budget. But even though a project or program may repeat from year to year, conditions that affect what it costs often change.

Meetings are unquestionably the biggest bugbear. Craig Silverio, CAE, vice president, finance, at PMMI, a trade association for the packaging and processing industries, points out that association events are rife with wild cards. Locating a meeting in a different venue every year can affect travel costs, attendance, facility rentals, food and beverage, and more.

“Inevitably, those meetings change in structure,” Silverio says. “Are the same amount of people going to be there? Is it in the same geographic location? What are the costs in the city? Are we going to have the same types of speakers, or are we going for more high-powered ones? Are we going to have more customer panels where we have to pay people? What type of volunteer speakers are we working with?”

To account for such shifts, Silverio advocates for zero-based budgeting: building each project budget annually out of a fresh cost and revenue analysis, rather than carrying prior numbers forward. In the case of meetings, he instructs staff to deliver a budget based on the costs specific to upcoming events’ venues, using their lists of food and beverage costs (and those pesky service charges).

“After the event, we go back and reconcile guarantees, minimums, and actual plated meals so that we can do a better job next time,” he says.

Estimating how many people will attend can be equally tricky and often depends on the venue. Douglas M. Kleine, CAE, president of Professional Association Services, prefers to estimate based on a three-year rolling average. “Yes, our goal is to do better [financially], but we cannot budget on wishes and good intentions,” he says.

Art of Anticipation

Strong policies and procedures can help rein in budget lines that may otherwise run amok. A key is anticipating future needs before they arise.

Consider technology, which at large organizations can become complicated and expensive. Klumpp prescribes breaking out technology budgets into an operating budget for day-to-day IT matters and a capital expenditure budget to handle new servers, phone systems, and so on, that rotate out every few years. To encourage IT departments to better budget for those expenses, he recommends that any variances of greater than a specified dollar amount or percentage require board approval.

Dave Zepponi, president and CEO of the California Association of Community Managers, has seen that struggle at the ground level at small associations he’s worked with. Software can be cheap on the front end, he says, but associations often don’t anticipate how much extra they’ll be paying in support costs. He now makes sure those costs are built into his budgets.

“The number-one issue is: How much customization are we going to have to do?” he says. “Once you get the software, reality will hit. We make sure we have a certain percentage set aside for technology investment.”

Keeping Staff Accountable

Accountability can be straightforward when it comes to laptops and software—that’s IT’s job. But who owns, say, e-learning, which touches not just technology but education, credentialing, publications, and more?

For complex projects, Klumpp recommends that one person take responsibility for budgeting on a per-project basis, rather than have various participants chime in. “Anything that’s done by committee might turn out really well, but when it comes to finance and budget by committee, it usually doesn’t,” he says. “Either somebody’s really a stickler on the costs, or they don’t care, [thinking,] ‘We’re building the best mousetrap we can, regardless of costs.’”

Anything that’s done by committee might turn out really well, but when it comes to finance and budget by committee, it usually doesn’t.

Another issue is ensuring that department heads are watching not just dollars spent on a project but time spent by employees as well. “In the association world, time can be 60 to 70 percent of our costs,” Zepponi says. “If somebody is riding a sacred cow and they don’t want to let go of it, it’s pretty easy to make it look really good if you’re not allocating properly for that product area. Your accounting system has to support that.”

Staffers can also stumble when it comes to budgeting appropriately for travel. “You’ll have people who will put a budget together and say, ‘This activity is going to be five travel days, and there’s going to be three people going,’” says PMMI’s Silverio. “Next thing you know, [the activity has] 180 travel days, which is ridiculous. People can sometimes wear rose-colored glasses about all the things they’re planning to do.”

The Big Picture

But just as individual staffers need to take ownership of budgets for specific projects, an association’s leadership needs to help direct those staffers to keep the organization’s broader strategy in mind. Patrick Nichols, president of Transition Leadership International, says C-suite executives too often fail to present the broad strokes of a financial plan to the people doing the front-line budgeting.

“Leadership should draw specific implications for budgeting,” he says. For example, “‘This plan suggests that we will spend significantly more on X, where we have to make investments. That means that, without significant revenue growth, we must spend significantly less on Y and Z.’ When budgets are submitted by departments, they should provide a brief narrative explaining how this budget reflects the requirements of the plan.”

Tim Schaffer, executive director at the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers, argues for an iterative approach to budgeting, performing weekly updates on revenue drivers such as attendance and membership and comparing the numbers to prior years. That not only helps with future projections but also allows the association to make cost-saving moves on the fly.

“It gives you time to adjust in case you see numbers lagging,” Schaffer says. “Or it saves you from wasting money on extra mailings or other promotion expenses if you see the numbers growing at a good pace.”

In all cases, the key to effective budgeting is precision and research. Staffers can be inattentive when they recycle dollar figures. But, Silverio says, they can be just as unfocused when they shoot for the moon with revenue projections that have little basis in reality.

“You’ll see budget initiatives where people say, ‘We’re going to go from $50,000 to $100,000 in revenue.’ It’s great that you feel that way, but why don’t we go from 50 to 70—add 40 percent. If you hit 100 you’ll be a hero, but if you don’t, you’re going to look like you underperformed, even if you had 40 percent growth.”

And staffers often don’t consider what their departments are actually costing the organization. Klumpp advocates budgets that differentiate between direct costs—what a department is directly invoiced for—and indirect costs, which includes items like unused office space or a salary line for an unfilled staff position. Department heads need to be challenged to recognize exactly what costs they’re responsible for, Klumpp says—especially if they’re holding off on a decision about resources.

“All things that affect the cost to run a program or a department should be built into the budget,” he says. “Our delays and inactions to address changes and variance in actual cost versus budget can hurt the organization and could be an indication that something is missed.”


CAMICB Updates CMCA Exam Blueprint

Sara Duginske, M.S., Director, Credentialing Services, Community Association Mangers International Certification Board (CAMICB).

The field of community association management is growing and evolving. The knowledge and skills needed by successful managers today reflect changes in technology, regulatory and governance issues, and principles of effective management.

CAMICB conducted a job analysis study in 2016/2017 to examine the current state of community association management and update the Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) exam. The job analysis was conducted with the help of CAMICB’s Exam Development Committee and more than 1,600 practitioners across the globe. This type of study is carried out at regular intervals, roughly every three to five years, to ensure the CMCA exam continues to evaluate the knowledge necessary for competent performance as a community association manager.
Job analysis is the cornerstone of a strong exam development process. The core component of this study is a survey distributed to practitioners in the field working in a wide range of professional situations. Survey respondents provide their professional expertise to identify job tasks and knowledge that are critical for successfully executing the responsibilities of a professional community association manager.  Survey data are used to inform changes to the exam content blueprint which specifies the portion of the exam that is allocated for each primary topic area. In this manner, the job analysis study ensures the exam measures topics and concepts that are relevant to the profession as it exists today.
A new CMCA examination blueprint has been developed based on the results of the 2016/2017 job analysis study, and new forms of the CMCA exam, built against the new blueprint, will be launched on January 1, 2018.
We want to emphasize that the changes made to the examination blueprint are limited and the core knowledge areas remain the same. A candidate preparing for the current CMCA is not likely to feel unprepared sitting for the new exam. However, the CMCA Candidate Handbook and the CMCA Study Guide have been updated to reflect the revised CMCA examination blueprint. The current Handbook and Study Guide – valid through December 31, 2017 – will remain on the website through the end of December. The updated Study Guide and Candidate Handbook are also now available with a January 1 effective date. After December 31, only the updated Study Guide and Candidate Handbook will be available.
If you are planning on testing before December 31, 2017, please refer only to the current 2017 Candidate Handbook and 2017 Study Guide. If you plan to test after December 31, 2017, please utilize only the updated publications: 2018 Candidate Handbook and 2018 Study Guide. Questions regarding the launch of updated forms of the CMCA examination may be forwarded to info@camicb.org.  

3 Steps to Developing a New Year’s Plan

Dec. 18, 2017 – Get a Jump Start on Your New Year’s Plan Now, by John Manning. Reproduced from Map Consulting, Talent Management Blog. Written by John Manning, Dec. 18, 2017

It’s hard to believe that the New Year is almost here. In light of that, it’s a time to dedicate some calendar space to reviewing how you did relative to your professional development plan. Think about your goals and any of the mindsets or behaviors you may have set out to change. What successes can you build upon? What shortcomings need to be corrected or still need addressing? Finally, how well does your professional development plan support that critical life-work balance? If your plan has been tucked away in a drawer or stored somewhere on your computer, bring it out and get busy! Let’s get it updated, primed and ready for January 1, 2018.

Here are three steps to give greater structure to this planning activity:

1. Schedule A Time And Place To Do This Review Activity

Identify when you’re going to do this, where you’ll be most productive, and what resources you’ll need to be successful. Then make sure to clear your calendar, eliminate the opportunity for distractions, and put the date and place in your books. Simply writing it down supports intention. Then you need to show up just like you would for any other meeting—be professional, prepared and ready to work.

Tip: Take a break from email, texting and social media during this time so you can fully engage in the task at hand.

2. Review And Assess Current Professional Development Documents

Assuming you already have a professional development plan of sorts, use this as the basis for your review and planning. (If you don’t have one, consider using MAP’s Professional Development Plan.) As you review your progress against your goals, be objective about it and release any tendency to bring in judgments or excuses for any shortcomings that may exist. (Note: This requires awareness and discipline!) Focus on successes and ask yourself what’s been learned and where the value lies within any challenges that surfaced.

Tip: Think about how you feel after reviewing your 2017 document—and consider how you want to feel a year from now? More productive? Less stressed? More disciplined? Whatever it is, use that motivation to move on to Step 3.

3. Update Your Plan

In looking at your current blueprint, what still matters and what doesn’t? Do you have goals written down that are no longer vital, relevant or needed? If the aspects or the importance of your goals have morphed in some way, don’t personalize it or consider it a failure. It’s ok to change a date, set a more realistic target number, move it to a higher position of importance, etc. You may have goals that make sense to axe and new ones to add. With your action items, also identify what to update and do it. You may find it’s better to delegate certain activities or stop some all together, so you can be more productive in meeting other, more vital goals. Have this plan set and ready to go by the first of the year, making sure all your planned activities have due dates.

Tip: Share it with your business coach, a trusted team member or mentor to help give it credibility and support your accountability to this updated plan.

What common themes do you see around goals you’ve hit and goals you may have missed?