These ideas are inspired by the session “How to Manage Your CEO Performance Evaluation for Best Results” at the ASAE Annual Meeting on August 10, 2014, presented by Joel Albizo, FASAE, CAE; Wes Ehrecke, FASAE, CAE; and Nancy Green FASAE, CAE.
As an association management company, IMI Association Executives sends evaluations to our partners’ boards so they can provide feedback on our services. Employee evaluations are performed by the company instead of by the individual boards.
Many associations have CEOs who are hired directly by the association. It is important for all CEOs to have performance reviews. The CEO’s performance is usually evaluated by the board, executive committee or a special task force.
Categories for CEO evaluation can include:
management and administrative
organization and planning
It is important to note that there is a difference between leadership and management. Leadership involves influence and inspiration. Management consists of controlling a group to accomplish a goal.
There are many challenges when it comes to evaluating the CEO’s performance:
Board turnover leads to inconsistency from year to year
Board has limited interaction with CEO
Board doesn’t provide useful feedback
Board wants to avoid criticizing
Board provides input on details, not bigger picture such as strategic progress
The CEO and the board must make sure they are in agreement on what is important. The CEO and the board chair/president need to have a discussion about expectations and the assignment of responsibilities.
One way to facilitate the CEO evaluation is to include the evaluation form and/or criteria in the CEO employment agreement. This establishes expectations from the start.
It helps to narrow down the evaluating group to just the executive committee because they are most involved with the day-to-day work of the CEO. The evaluating group needs to know there is value in the evaluation and that they should take the work to complete it. Remind them to keep track of association activities so they are equipped to evaluate. Make sure the process is as easy as possible since the board is made up of volunteers. Use an outside firm if necessary.
When possible, perform the evaluation in person so that there is a captive audience. Often, emailed forms get overlooked. This also allows for more dialogue. Don’t let the form hinder additional discussion. Also, consider allowing the CEO to complete a self-evaluation and include it in the formal evaluation process.
Consider measuring outcomes instead of activities. Evaluate progress of the association against the strategic goals. If using 360° format (where peers or subordinates provide feedback), use them only as a development tool instead of in formal evaluation.
Conducting CEO evaluations with honest conversation and feedback allows for association growth.
While studying for the CAE exam, I read the book, “The Will to Govern Well” by Glenn H. Tecker, Paul D. Meyer, Leigh Wintz, CAE and Bud Crouch. This book is intended as a handbook for developing strategies for change in governance, based on an extensive study of information collected from governance specialists. While analyzing the results of the study, three themes emerged as keys to developing the will to govern well: Knowledge, Trust and Nimbleness.
The authors begin by looking at why governance needs to change: to remain relevant and sustainable.
“Absent of a vision—a sense of direction and an understanding of where the industry and its members are going—an association exists in a constantly reactive mode. For a while it may retain its role as a viable information source for its members, but over time it will lose effectiveness as increasingly it learns about changes in the industry, profession, or cause at about the same time that members do.”
I’ve decided to summarize some of the key points I took away below, but recommend you buy the book yourself for the details:
Changing Governance Systems
“Board meetings should be a platform for dialogue and deliberation on issues of strategic importance, rather than an opportunity to review information already provided, redo work already completed by others, or set administrative and/or operational program policy without sufficient study of context, alternatives, consequences, or likely implementation realities.”
1. Boards are wise to consider how much time they spend in Management, Operations and Activities as this will take time away from Policy and Strategy.
2. Boards should ask themselves if their decision-making process elicits a continuous stream of information from members, prospective members, customers and stakeholders. They should strive to understand what is important to a broad community of stakeholders.
3. Boards should evaluate their current governance system (including structure and process) to determine if it enables or hinders them from effectively changing priorities to ensure relevance to their members’ changing marketplaces.
4. Boards should be able to define what constitutes value to their members. Instead of being power-driven, boards should strive to be value-driven.
5. Boards who are moving from a constituency-based board to a competency-based board must remember that they still have to have a sufficient connection with their membership.
The Role of Knowledge in Governance
“Knowledge creating is the act of taking relatively random data from a broad spectrum and translating it into a meaningful, insightful context through study, investigation, observation, and experience.”
6. Successful boards recognize the importance of collecting and using knowledge in their decision-making process. This helps the association establish itself as a knowledge leader which provides value to their members as well as the larger community.
7. Successful associations must be committed to research. It should be budgeted as an ongoing functional line item.
8. Successful boards constantly ask the following questions: Whom do we serve? What needs is the association best positioned to meet? How will the association meet those needs?
9. Successful association staff members know where to find relevant information and know how to transform this knowledge into meaningful information to be shared with board members. Staff should be careful to give the right kind of information and to ask the right kinds of questions of the board—it should revolve around the execution of strategy and not operations.
10. Successful boards are conscientious of time and therefore are less tolerant of information designed primarily to demonstrate how busy staff or committees have been.
11. Successful boards are known to make their decisions and the rationale behind those decisions more accessible to their members.
12. Successful governance is evolving from retreat-driven, product-oriented, traditional strategic planning to a process of ongoing strategic thinking.
The Role of Trust in Governance Systems
“Creating and sustaining a culture of trust becomes imperative for success as an association develops strategies for a more responsive and effective governance structure. Trust can be considered the alignment of what an association has promised with what it ultimately delivers to important stakeholder groups such as members, volunteer leaders, staff, legislators, and the general public.”
13. Trust allows an association to eliminate needless controls which in turn increases nimbleness and responsiveness.
14. Trust is strengthened as groups work together and create strategy.
15. Trust is derived from openness and the communication of ideas. Therefore boards of highly competitive professions or industries are challenged to create a safe haven for those around the board table to dialogue freely about the issues that will mutually benefit the industry, profession, or cause the organization represents.
The Role of Nimbleness in Governance Systems
“Nimble organizations allow thoughtful groups, guided by strategic principles, to determine whether the work they propose to do in support of the organizations’ agreed-upon outcomes fits within the parameters of strategic direction and governance’s intent, without having to seek permission from management or governance before they act.”
16. Nimble associations have strategic plans that are focused on delivering external value and benefit to members.
17. Nimble associations have clear focus.
18. Nimble associations should have a set of boundaries based on values, which then empowers association staff to make decisions at an operational level without direct board involvement.
19. Nimble associations should have a process for analyzing their portfolio of programs and services and aligning them with its future strategy.
20. Nimble associations have a commitment to leadership succession so they will be able to pass the baton to future leadership successfully.
These ideas are inspired by the session “Get Your Governance House in Order” at the ASAE Annual Meeting on August 10, 2014, presented by John Bartoletti, M.Ed.; Michael Butera; Eileen Johnson Esq.; and E. Paul Roetert, Ph.D.
If you create a foundation, foundation board members need to be separate from association board members.
The board should be selected for expertise, such as expertise in fundraising, management, finance, public relation and a passion for the foundation mission.
Consider asking foundation board members to pay/raise a certain amount of money to sit on the board.
Association boards should refrain from being involved in operations, but instead be involved in a higher level of policy setting. Ideally, the day to day management of the association should be handled by staff with expertise and specialized training in providing administrative services to trade associations, professional societies and educational foundations.
For every “member benefit” proposed, ask if it is what the members want and if there is a return on investment. A “good idea” isn’t a good idea if it doesn’t connect with members and carry its own weight.
Reduce the size of the board. When an association has a large board, executive committees sometimes become “a board within a board.” Smaller boards are more nimble with decision making.
The board should not have to review and act on any and all governance. Committees should be established that have specific expertise. Watch for duplication of committee efforts and silos. Consider forming task forces instead of committees. Don’t forget, task forces have a beginning and end.
Conduct board orientation and training. Make sure training is held regularly to keep everyone sharp and each member of the board contributing. Ask board members to complete self-evaluation forms periodically. See BoardSource from ASAE for more information on board self-assessment for associations.
Do you have more questions about foundations or association boards? Ask us in the comments below!
Lee Campbell, Executive Director & Director of Conference
These ideas are inspired by the session “Tackling the Turbo Bully on Your Board” at the ASAE Annual Meeting on August 10, 2014, presented by Mark Alcorn, Sandra Giarde, and Jamie Notter.
We all have a pretty good idea of what a bully looks like on the playground, but what does it look like when you have a “bully” on the board?
A bully is not someone who simply asks questions or occasionally offers a “contrary” opinion. (It’s very valuable to have people on the board who have the courage to say “no!”) A board bully uses intimidation to silence ideas, ignores the bylaws and policies, is self-focused rather than keeping the needs of the association in mind, and undermines the board decisions.
So, what do you do when you have a bully on the board?
Help Win the Fight by Offering:
Make sure the board is very clear on the mission so it becomes obvious when a bully starts to take everyone off course.
Make sure the board volunteers have a strong sense of their voice. Yearly board training is essential for old and new volunteers to be well aware of the bylaws, policies, chain of command, and their legal duties.
Mentors Assigned to New Volunteers
New volunteers will follow the old and experienced board members.
Tools For Your Toolbox:
Make sure you have job descriptions, conflict of interest policies, and antitrust statements in place. Develop a sample policy of misconduct and how a member of the board of directors can be removed.
Pre-screening of Volunteers during Nomination Process
The nominating committee should identify bullying behaviors before acceptance to the board.
Ask the bully questions to understand why the behavior is happening.
Move towards the conflict to achieve greater understanding instead of skirting around the issue.
Early detection and intervention is essential so the issue doesn’t have a chance to grow. Keep behavior observable. Remind the bully about the impact of their behavior on the board and on the association.
Alert the board leaders responsible for discipline.
There are also legal considerations so be sure to keep documentation. Consult legal counsel and other experts such as HR advisers and risk managers.
One of the great things about working for an AMC (association management company) is the ability to draw from other association management professionals within the company. At IMI, we take advantage of this benefit by intentionally scheduling brainstorming meetings to share ideas across the different account teams.
The theme for one of our recent meetings was Board Meeting Tips, Questions and Concerns. I walked away with this list of 21 Board Meetings Tips:
Board Agendas & Packets
Align the agenda with the strategic plan.
Review the strategic plan and outstanding board deliverables at the beginning of meeting rather than the end.
Include an ongoing and regularly updated Excel spreadsheet of deliverables (what needs to be done, who needs to do it and projected completion date) to be addressed at the end of each meeting.
Combine all documents into an Adobe binder and then use the bookmarks on the side for easy navigation during the meeting. Note: some board members may prefer to have original Word, Excel, etc. documents instead so they can edit them throughout the board meeting.
Consider adding supplemental documents to a central repository area such as Central Desktop instead of including them in the conference binder.
Work with board members, staff, etc., to create issue papers and discussion guides before bringing an idea or recommendation to the board. An issue paper should provide background on the issue, a list of pros and cons to be considered along with a recommendation for the board’s consideration.
Create a cheat-sheet about when a motion is required and when it is not. This is especially helpful to share with new board members or can also be included in the board packet for easy reference throughout a meeting.
Practice “documentation, not elaboration” when drafting minutes. Remember there are legal reasons for not including too much detail, so leave out the conversation and names.
Use the line number feature in Word when drafting minutes for easier proofing and corrections.
Webinar vs. Teleconference Meetings
Research the pros and cons of teleconferences vs. Webinars. More and more boards are moving away from teleconferences in favor of Webinar meetings as it allows everyone to view the agenda and any supporting documents.
Consider recording the meeting and reviewing it later to take notes as it can be difficult to take notes and show the needed documents.
Include a printed agenda packet and also project on the screen. This allows you to create an electronics-free zone so people aren’t distracted checking email, etc.
Allot time at each in-person meeting for training/leadership exercises. Include video clips to highlight the “theme” of the exercise.
Provide fidget toys to help meeting attendees relax, stay focused during long meetings, and think creatively.
Encourage meeting attendees to turn their name tent on end to signal their desire to speak.
Print the association’s mission statement on the back of name tent so it faces the board member.
Include Roberts Rules cheat sheet at back of board binder which shows ways to move discussions along. Note: anyone on the board, not just the president, can help with this. Incorporate indicators such as holding up a red paper or other item to wrap up conversations when off topic.
Use a time-keeper.
Assign seats, strategically setting out board tents ahead of time, as needed.
Staff should excuse themselves from executive sessions whenever staff performance or the AMC’s contract is being discussed. Staff should plan to stay in all other executive sessions to take minutes unless asked by the board to leave. Note: it is generally a recognized practice within the association management industry for executive staff to stay in the meeting when the board moves to an executive session.
Encourage a 48 hour discussion period during online voting to give participants from different parts of the world time to weigh in before a vote is taken.
Do you have any additional tips to add to the list? If so, please share in the comments below!
It happens to all of us. Traffic from a terrible accident on the highway makes you late for an important meeting. You receive a harsh email out of the blue. A conference speaker cancels at the last minute and you’re left scrambling for a replacement. Or, if you’re like me, you release a project you spent weeks working on and then discover there’s a typo on the front page. Sometimes, if you’re really unlucky, it all happens on the same day.
What can you do to get back on track when your day is off the rails?
Take a break. Get a change of space for a change of perspective. Go breathe some fresh air. Grab a cup of coffee. Do what works best for you to untangle your brain from the issues in front of you for 5-10 minutes.
Get it off your chest.
If you enjoy journaling, write down your concerns on paper. If you’re a talker, find a private place, like your car, to call up a friend and spill some feelings. Text a friend. Whatever you do, be discreet. You don’t want a misunderstanding in the office to make a bad day even worse.
Work on the things you can control. Let the rest go.
Mistakes are frustrating but they can be really great opportunities to find the weaknesses in your system. Don’t be afraid to examine where the problems originated from and work out a way to avoid them in the future. It’s only a true “failure” if you don’t learn anything from it. But, don’t kick yourself over something that’s out of your control.
Remember the wins.
Be careful not to let frustrations overshadow the things that are going right today. Take a couple minutes to recognize your accomplishments and wins for the day. I have a “Thanks and Kudos” file where I save kind notes from clients and coworkers. When I’m feeling discouraged, I look back at those notes and see that there have been many, many high points in my journey. It’s a good feeling.
Make a recovery plan.
Missed a meeting or a deadline? Call the person to apologize and reschedule. Too many projects vying for your attention? Make a list of your tasks, prioritize them, and handle the most important tasks first. You may not be able to accomplish everything you hoped to do, but with a little strategizing you can make the best of the rest of your day.
How do you get back on track? Please share your tips in the comments below!
I’ve scheduled a meeting with my legislator… Now what?
Come to the meeting prepared. You will have only a short time to talk to your legislator because of the many constituents who want to see him or her about issues or problems. Organize your meeting by following the tips below:
Take a letter or fact sheet to the meeting to leave with the legislator.
Practice in advance. Anticipate answering questions about the issue.
Be yourself. Most legislators are good listeners so they want to hear your perspective on the issue.
Treat your legislator as you’d want to be treated; be respectful and professional.
Never threaten or brag on your campaigning or contributions when talking about issues.
Thank your legislators for their support, time and serving in public office.
Send a thank you note after the meeting.
Report back to your association to let them know how the meeting went.
If I can’t meet in person, will a phone call work?
Yes, phone calls can be effective if you follow these steps:
Write down key points before you call.
Practice in advance.
If you are a constituent of the legislator, be sure to mention it.
Ask for a report on how the legislator stands/voted on the issue.
Be brief. Keep your call under five minutes.
Be respectful and professional.
Follow up with a written thank you note restating your position.
Report results to your association.
Should I send a letter?
There is power in numbers when it comes to lobbying. Imagine the impact if every person in the state in your industry was to generate a new letter to legislators each week about pending legislation or issues. Letters to representatives should follow these guidelines:
Always type your letter. While handwritten is more personal, the letter should be very easy to read.
Use your company or association letterhead so the legislator knows who you are and what organization you represent.
Keep your letter to one page. Include fact sheets or other information on additional pages.
Include your name and address.
If you are a constituent, include that information.
Outline your view on the issue/legislation.
Request that the legislator support the legislation.
How can I find out who my legislators are and how can I obtain their mailing and email addresses?
Visit www.votesmart.org and enter your nine digit zip code to determine who your representatives are.
Do you have tips for connecting with legislators or a success story to share? Tell us in the comments!
By Adrian Emerson, Association Accounting Specialist
Microsoft Excel is a very versatile program that is not just for crunching numbers. You can use it for multiple tasks, like making lists, drafting a report, and drawing charts and graphs. Excel can be the association staff member’s best friend; however, there are some time saving features of Excel that almost everyone forgets.
Here are my top 10 tips and shortcuts to help make using Excel 2007 and newer more efficient and easier to use.
Personalize your Quick Access Toolbar! (you know that little bar at the very top right corner of your screen)
You can add preloaded and custom buttons to this string, like Quick Print or a custom sort feature.
Time and Date Stamps.
To populate a static time or date stamp of the current date or time:
For the date use – “Ctrl” + semi-colon
For the time use – “Ctrl” + “Shift” + colon
To populate an automatically updating time or date stamp:
For the date use the formula: “=today()”
For the time use the formula: “=now()”
Basic Rules of Lists and Reports.
Some of the features in Excel will not work if the any of the following is in your data group; here are some basic rules to follow:
Put the sheet title in as a header, and not in the spreadsheet
Always include appropriate row and column headings
Do not leave entire rows blank
Do not leave entire columns blank
Make sure to use the same data type in an entire column
Navigating Cells In a Data Range.
Pressing “Enter” moves up and down the cells in a column
Pressing “Tab” moves left and right in a row
If you select a range of cells, pressing “Enter” and “Tab” will only move between the selected cells
To quickly select a data range, click the first cell hold “Shift” and click the end of the range. This will select all cells in between.
This feature copies and links the data from another sheet, and will update the next time you open the file.
The Multiple Sorting feature can sort data by multiple specified criteria at the same time. So, if you need a report to be sorted by letter in one column and by zip code in another this feature makes it really easy.
Custom sorting listings can be set up for easier sorting, like by month, day of the week, or site location.
To create a new custom list click the “Add” Button.
Then in the “List Entries” box type your new list.
Then Click “OK”
Allows you to set up more complicated queries and place a copy in a new area or sheet.
This feature allows you to add selected formatting to specific data, like automatically changing the font color to red for any cell in the range that is below 100 or highlighting a cell if it is within a certain given range.
This feature will automatically place subtotals and grand totals in a range of data per your specified groupings. NOTE: Make sure to sort your data before using this feature.
NOTE: If you add new data at the beginning or at the end of a data range it will not automatically recalculate the formula.
A. VLOOKUP – “=VLookup(LookupValue,LookupTable,ColumnToReturn)”
This formula is probably one of the most widely used of the formulas second to AUTOSUM. The VLookup formula allows you to look up data from a range of data. You can use this formula to create a whole new table of data using data from other sheets and workbooks.
B. SUMIF – “=SUMIF(range, criterion, sumrange)
This formula will sum the data in a range that fit the selected criteria, like if you want to know the sum of only the sales for one location or one employee. However, this formula will only allow you to pick one criteria
C. SUMIFS – “=SUMIFS(sumrange, criteriarange1, criteria1, criteriarange2, criteria2, etc.)
This formula provides the same function as its sibling above, but will allow you to pick multiple criteria, like if you want to know the sum of sales for one employee at only one location or if you want to know the sum of only two employee’s sales at all locations.
What are your favorite Excel tips? Share in the comments below!
Tom Rath’s book Strengths Based Leadership builds on the basic principles discussed in the well-known book StrengthsFinder. Gallup has studied the strengths of well knowns leaders from around the world for over 30 years. Their research – condensed into this book – discusses what strengths the most successful leaders have and what great teams (their followers) need and expect from exceptional leaders.
Many of us have read books about leadership and the five, seven or 10 characteristics of successful leaders. However, Rath points out that the fastest way to fail at leadership is to lead by imitation. In Gallup’s studies there is only one characteristic that all strong leaders share; successful leaders know their strengths and limitations. They use their strength like “a carpenter uses his tools.” A leader cannot be all things to all people. However, by knowing their strengths and limitations strong leaders are able to focus on what they do well and surround themselves with individuals strong in the areas where they are weak, creating a strong supportive team.
Building strong teams takes time and energy. Getting individuals with diverse, yet complementary strengths on a team is a good start. But that is not enough to make a team successful. Leaders must continually invest in each person’s strengths and build better relationships among the group. What are the signs of a strong teams? Gallup’s research shows that strong, successful teams share the following characteristics:
Focus on results – Instead of becoming more isolated during difficulty times strong teams come together. They gain strength from cohesion. They can argue, but in the end they know they are all working towards the same goal.
Prioritize what’s best for the organization – They consistently put what is best for the organization ahead of their egos. Once a decision is made the team rallies to help one another be successful.
Commitment to personal and work life – They bring the same level of energy to their family and social lives as they do to their companies. They feel their lives are balanced.
Embrace diversity – A team that embraces diversity of age, gender, race, and strengths brings balance to the whole. Teams that are engaged view individuals through the lens of their strengths, thereby eliminating superficial barriers.
Magnets for talent – Everyone wants to be on a strong team. Your star players see that they can make an impact and demonstrate their strengths.
Effective leaders bring together a broad group of people to carry out an organization’s goals. In order to understand why leaders are successful it is not only important to understand what a strong team looks like, but why people follow that leader. From 2005-2008 Gallup polled 10,000 followers (average people). They determined that there are four things that followers look for in a good leader:
Trust – Once a trusting relationship is established people can complete projects in the fraction of the time and become a high performing team.
Compassion – Leaders that care about their team project a more positive energy. People want to follow leaders that exude a positive bias.
Stability – Transparency is the best way to quickly create a feeling of stability in a group.
Hope – Followers want hope for the future and guidance on how to get there. Knowing that things can and will be better in the future is an excellent motivator.
Knowing the characteristics of strong teams and understanding what teams look for in successful leaders provides us with the tools for better leadership and building more successful teams. Whether the team you work with is association or AMC staff, a volunteer board or committee members, knowing what makes a strong team and what they are looking for in a leader is the first step to creating strong leadership teams.
More and more companies are offering employees the ability to work remotely, whether it is full-time, a few days a week, or just as needed. The technology available, such as call forwarding and remote access software, allows this process to be fairly seamless.
Anyone who works from home will probably agree that it has its benefits as well as its drawbacks. As a full-time remote employee, I have found the following tips to be helpful:
Set regular office hours. Maintain defined work hours and don’t accept phone calls or respond to emails outside of those hours. Set boundaries between work and personal life. Don’t allow work to consume your life.
Designate a workspace. Dedicate an area for working so that you feel as if you are “at work” when you enter that space.
Utilize a project management system to track status of tasks. I use Basecamp which allows each person on my client team to update the progress they’ve made on various tasks. This ensures nothing falls between the cracks.
Get up and move. Take breaks. Go for a walk. Play fetch with the dog. Schedule breaks to maintain your sanity and improve focus when you are working.
Schedule routine meetings with your team. I meet with my team every Monday morning. Working from home doesn’t allow me the convenience of stopping by someone’s office to touch base. Establishing set check-in times helps to keep the lines of communication open.
Talk to people. Pick up the phone to touch base with a co-worker. Meet a friend for lunch. Work for an afternoon at a coffee shop.
Stock your home office. Keep tools that will help you get your job done. Make sure you have pens, paper, ink and anything else needed. I have an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier that allows me to be more efficient. I don’t have to head to FedEx every time I need to return a signed contract.
Lastly, the common work from home tip I’ve ignored:
Get dressed. I have found I can work just as effectively and efficiently in yoga pants as I can in a skirt and heels. Find what works for you and supports your needs.