It’s the time of year again when many associations are implementing their nomination and election process. Because associations are groups of people or companies in the same profession or industry there are many opportunities for conflict and other challenges as an association goes through its nomination and election process.
To avoid challenges which can lead to bigger problems such as hurt feelings, dropped memberships, etc., it is important that every association have a clear nomination and election process and that the process is followed each and every time.
Below are some suggestions you might consider including in your nomination and election process:
- Have a nominating committee whose responsibility is to develop and/or review nominations. The nominating committee could include a current leader, such as the president; a former leader, such as the most recent past president; and possibly a future leader, such as an engaged committee member.
- The nominating committee should work throughout the year to identify potential future leaders.
- The nominating committee should have discussions with potential future leaders to gauge their level of interest and commitment prior to nominating them.
- If the membership is engaged in the nomination process, the nominating committee should make sure ample opportunity and notice is provided to the membership.
- The nominating committee should assure the qualifications and responsibilities for nominees is clearly stated for the membership’s consideration.
- The association staff should be sure to remind the nominating committee of their responsibilities and the timing of the process several times throughout the year. However, it is VERY important the staff be removed from the nomination process. The staff should never be perceived as attempting to select future volunteer leaders for the association.
- The nominating committee should consider several factors when evaluating potential nominees such as:
- Experience in the industry or profession
- Experience within the association
- Level of commitment to the association and its mission
- Is the nominee interested in the position for the good of the association or themselves
- Is the nominee willing to listen to other opinions and work toward consensus
- If being nominated for a director position, are they a potential future officer as well
- Will the nominee work well with others but also be willing to offer their own opinion, even if it’s unpopular
- Be sure the nominations are clearly published or communicated to whatever the electoral body is in advance of the election
- Be sure whoever leads the actual election process (nominating committee chair, current president, etc.) is well versed on the process for the election and has information on how to handle curve balls that might be thrown such as nominations from the floor. (We recommend you draft a script for the person leading the election process). The script should include potential situations that can occur during the process and how to handle them.
Above all, don’t let your nomination and election process become a “joke” where people who aren’t interested are nominated or elected because they “were out of the room”. Building a culture where people want to be an association leader because of its value and importance to them personally, professionally and to the profession or industry they are serving is key to your association’s long-term success.
Having a clear nomination and election process will help the process, but to build that culture can take time and takes committed leaders and staff.