Boards of Directors Members and Committee Chairs are key leaders who determine whether an association is successful or not. What does that mean? It’s simple – associations whose directors and committee chairs are not focused on the organization’s strategic plan, are not consensus builders, and don’t know how to run effective meetings cause their association’s to fail – or at least stagnate. Conversely, directors and committee chairs who are focused on achieving the results desired by the organization, who engage others toward achieving those results and who run effective meetings, lead their associations to success.
But you likely didn’t get to choose the directors and committee chairs you serve with or whom you serve as staff for right?
So, what can association’s do to assure their leaders are qualified and ready to lead their association? It’s simple – train your leaders!
Think about it. In your business, what do you do to make sure your employee’s are all working together toward a common goal and are equipped with the skills and tools they need to achieve that goal? You make sure they understand the direction your company is headed in and provide them the proper training to get there.
The same is true with associations – except the people you need to train aren’t getting paid to do their jobs – they are volunteers. And in many cases, they are volunteers who don’t have experience building consensus or leading an association.
Every association should have a volunteer training program – just like every company should have an employee training program. So, what are the basics that a training program should cover?
The training should cover at a minimum the following:
• Board orientation for all new directors and officers. This orientation should teach the volunteers about the association, its policies and programs. It should inform them of their duties and responsibilities. It should get them up to speed on meeting dates and deadlines and should update them on the current strategic plan, directions and measurable goals of the association. Though this is a “new” director orientation, all directors and officers should be invited to participate.
• Treasurer training. Every time your association elects a new treasurer he/she should be invited to the association office for treasurer training. During the training he/she should become familiar with his/her new responsibilities as well as the expectations for the role. Examples of all the reports he/she will receive should be provided and it should be made clear how to read and evaluate those reports. Finally, the controls your association has in place and the procedures your association follows when handling all accounting and financial transactions should be shared and demonstrated.
• Committee Chair training. At every meeting of your association when committee meetings will be held, the association should provide committee chair training. The training should focus on making sure the chairs understand their committee’s role in the overall association. (How do they fit in with the strategic plan?) It should also confirm with the chairs the objective for each of their individual committee meetings. Finally, it should provide some guidance and input on how to run their meetings effectively.
• Ongoing Board Training. At each Board meeting, consider setting aside time – perhaps the first hour – for training. The training can be reminders of the Board’s duties and responsibilities, it can include tips on being an effective meeting participant, building consensus and more.
Providing training for the volunteer leaders of associations makes them better leaders and as a result makes their associations more successful.
If you don’t have a training program for your association, create one. If you’d like suggestions or help in creating your training program, contact CM Services’ Head Coach and President, Rick Church at firstname.lastname@example.org.