How many walk-ins does an ER doctor see on a busy Saturday night? It probably varies based on the type of cases the doctor attends to, but likely the volume is high.
The system is built, so doctors rush from patient to patient. Some patient cases are a breeze. Other cases slow everyone down and can be mentally draining.
Because of the high volume of contact and sprinkle in some tough interactions, by the end of the night, even the most empathetic practitioner must have a hard time tuning into every patient’s needs.
Association executives face the same phenomena of high volume contact and tough interactions.
High Volume of Contact
Association events produce high volume contact for staff with members. Conferences, meetings, summits, and congresses are the best examples. During these events, staff members are “on” the whole time. Even in the office, some staff members deal with a high volume of member contacts every day from phone calls and emails. Launches can produce increased interaction, like the launch of a new website, or a new community, or even a new research study. Environmental events may create a flurry of contact, such as a new regulation, a recession, a storm, or a virus. During the year, we will find ourselves in situations where we have an extremely high volume of contact with members.
Some members have personalities that do not mesh with ours. A few members may come from a tough culture and have learned disruptive behaviors. Members may be dealing with compounding frustrations, or they may be tired, hungry, or grumpy. Once a member blasts you for a perceived injustice, it is hard to bounce back.
At the beginning of the high volume of contact, the staff is likely fresh and able to respond kindly, but as the day wears on, it becomes harder to deal with each piece of feedback with generosity. Especially when during the interactions, we experience some tough behaviors from our members.
How do you keep your staff and yourself ready to handle the next member interaction even at 9 PM tonight?
It helps to connect with the big picture. Yes, you have a conference to host. You are hoping the speakers arrive, the coffee will be warm, and the AV to work without a hitch. But, you also want members to feel happy, connected, and smarter for attending. Knowing that by the end of the day, your emotional sponge may be nearly full, and also knowing that every staff person helps set the culture, experience, and tone for members can help you find the reserves to respond to every member with consistent kindness.