What do you do if you are coming to an association that has a recent messy history? Perhaps the CEO’s desk has been a revolving door. Or the board has been particularly dysfunctional. Or many strategic planning efforts have been started but never brought to completion. Or the association has been redirected over and over with every new whim or vision.
If you are walking into an association where one or a combination of any of these things have happened, you may see that everyone is fatigued; staff, board and maybe even members. They may be tired of all the change. They may be tired of the endless fire drills. They may be tired of believing in false promises. They may be tired of hoping. They are tired of starting conversations or projects and never seeing them through to the end.
There is a prevailing been-there-done-that feeling.
How do you deal with this? It’s not by announcing a new grand plan. This is probably not the right time to unveil your vision. No one will be thrilled with seeing strategic planning sessions scheduled even if that is exactly what is needed.
First you have to build trust. One great way to build trust is learn about members and help everyone else to learn about members in a new way. A sort of group re-grounding. By doing this we learn what is most important to members now. We learn about the gaps that exist. We learn about opportunities for the association. And we remember why we are working so hard.
If a new strategic plan is exactly what is needed but it is a terrible time to work on one, think about backing way up and starting the planning phase earlier than anyone has before. Start at discovery.
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