Get a Pulse on Your Organization’s Culture – Association Field Report (September 25, 2020)



I would like to share a conversation I had with our team last week. It was a great conversation! Here’s some context: if you’re an association, your staff is working remotely and, more than likely, your business model has been disrupted in a number of ways. The disruption could be a lack of meeting and non-dues revenue. Or, membership renewal will be a guessing game in terms of the rates and what members are going to renew in 2021 – if they will at all. You will probably face smaller discretionary budgets as you work on recruiting new members into your organization.
My advice, with all of this going on, is to talk to your teams and ask them about the culture. You may be grinding it out so hard that haven’t had time to check in to see how everyone is doing. What’s their mindset? How do they feel about the organization? We recently participated in a study with Heidrick and Struggles – I’ve got to thank Bill Hudson and Julian Ha for allowing us to do that – and it was an eye opener. We took this survey with our team and the fact that we tried and talked about culture in the first place during, this time, was received positively.
Secondly, the most important thing to our team – and the area where we scored the highest –was truth, honesty, and integrity with each other and our clients. So, frankly, if I go down with the ship, I know that we did things the right way by our team and by our association clients that we work with.
Where did we rank lowest? In diversity of opinions and thoughts as well as personal recognition. We have a gap there. Once I thought about it the more, I realized that the feedback was spot on. In fact, I think I’ve been more proactive, assertive, making more decisions than being collaborative because I’ve seen other organizations be paralyzed. So, my default was more action and more activity. I didn’t open up the field for them to give me their perspective on a lot of these things.
Here’s what we’re going to do about it. We’re going to have more open conversations around the company, its direction, and strategy. I think it’s important to include my team’s thoughts in those areas. We’re going to continue our diversity and inclusion outreach so we can get different perspectives on our staff and our advisory board.
Thirdly, we’ve been working very hard and moving from project to project; we’ve got to recognize people for their efforts, their commitment, and the things that they’re doing on behalf of our.
The survey was an eye opener in addition to everything else that’s going on. My recommendation to you today is ask your team about culture first. Hope this is helpful. Good luck.
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