Members don’t take the time to understand their benefits. The board president has us running after his pet project. Those chapter leaders are not communicating well with new members. The conference volunteer is not doing her job.
There are so many situations that pit association staff against members. We are trying to serve them if they would just let us. We want them to be engaged but, they haven’t tried any of their benefits. We want to make this association great but, the board’s strategic plan is ho-hum.
If you are sometimes baffled by your member’s decisions or your board’s decisions check out a timely article I recently became aware of. Emery Wolfe posted this article from Medium called The “Other Side” is Not Dumb on Association Success (there’s an online community for association professionals behind the public content site).
The idea of the article is to openly, objectively seek out the other side’s argument. If you believe the answer is orange to a hot issue go find out why other people think it is purple. Seeking out the other side’s position is a valuable practice to do with members as well and one that I’m thrilled my future-focused clients have embraced.
Through our member’s stories, even stories about the things that frustrate us the most, we learn why they make the decisions they make and why they act the way they act. We get a rare peek into their world leading us to empathize with them even more. We may learn that we have the same objectives, but we are coming at them from two very different places. Having the same goal but traveling two different paths explains why some things haven’t worked as well as we thought they would.
Hearing member’s stories is such a valuable thing, but these stories can be tricky to hear. Quick heat-of-the-moment online, email or phone feedback from members can be laden with emotion making the creator’s words convoluted or inaccurate. Surveys assume that we know all the possible answers, but we don’t. Even in online communities members sometimes are influenced by what they think they should say versus what they really think. We can only get there through extended dialogue by asking the right questions and listening to the answers without judgment.
Dive into your member’s stories and find out how close you are.
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