Staff Spotlight: Jessica G.

Staff spotlight

Image Credit: Eva Blue

In this new feature, we ask our team members some quick, fun questions to show a little spotlight on the staff that makes IMI great.

Jessica Garrett

Conference Manager

2A3A4075-Edit_WebMy favorite aspect of association management is:

Seeing how multiple associations operate and getting ideas from colleagues about what has been done and has worked and what hasn’t.

On my desk right now:

  • Past conference program guides and registration brochures.
  • 20 Year Calendar…a must-have for conference planners!
  • Hotel floor plans and contracts for my upcoming locations.

My favorite blogs:

I’m not really into blogs but will I get extra points if I say IMI’s blog?

My media mix:

So I’m big into current events whether it be international, US, celebrity, sporting events…you name it, I’ve read or watched about it!

What I’m reading:

Lately it’s just been magazines but my go-to’s are usually memoirs or biographies.

Who to follow on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram:

Who to not follow…I follow celebrities, athletes, runners, local stores and restaurants, puppy & kitten related posts, funny memes. I even have some friends that I follow. It’s all Facebook & Instagram for me (and Snapchat).

What I do when not at work:

  • Running in every run club in town – I enjoy the social aspect and the exercise.
  • Being outdoors in some capacity…laying by the pool, hiking, drinks and dinner al fresco.
  • Watching basketball and football (during the season) with friends.

If I weren’t in association management, I’d:

I would love to work at a National Park and be outside all day, giving tours, hiking, enjoying the beautiful scenery. On a family trip out West when I was younger, I played “park ranger” for my family and have been hooked ever since. After a visit to Yosemite several years ago, I just can’t ever get enough.

Favorite quote:

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. –Benjamin Franklin

For more about Jessica, don’t forget to check out her full bio on the IMI website!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us at info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

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Staff Spotlight: Rachel

Staff spotlight

Image Credit: Eva Blue

In this new feature, we ask our team members some quick, fun questions to show a little spotlight on the staff that makes IMI great.

Rachel Owen

Communications Manager

2A3A4118-Edit_Web

My favorite aspect of association management is:

Ideas and solutions are my favorite things. Working with associations, I not only get to the chance to come up with solutions every day but I’m a part of making those success stories happen. I love being a part of dreams becoming reality through the hard work and dedication of the board members and volunteers.

On my desk right now:

The AP Stylebook (a must!) and the ASAE Handbook of Professional Practices in Association Management. Coffee, water, and iced tea (I’m super hydrated) are nestled in around my TARDIS cookie jar and Batman art.

My favorite blogs:

  • Candid Culture – If you want to learn how to “say anything to anyone” this is the blog for you! I never miss a post.
  • Member Clicks Blog – Great, simple posts to help associations and other non-profits.
  • Jon Acuff – These are hilarious, inspirational posts to help you hustle to meet your professional and life goals.

What I’m reading:

For professional development, in addition to those excellent blogs, I read Associations Now from ASAE and lots of great posts I find on Twitter under #assnchat. For fun, I’m reading Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson.    

What I do when not at work:

I read comic books while watching my grass grow tall from my front porch rocking chairs.

If I weren’t in association management, I’d:

I’d love to travel the world and teach English as a second language.

Favorite quote:
“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

For more about Rachel, don’t forget to check out her full bio on the IMI website!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us at info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

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All About Conferences, Part 2

2016-3-29 All About Conferences

Image Credit: Jose Martin

By Rachel Owen, Communications Manager

In part one of All About Conferences we talked a little about what association professionals should focus on Post-Conference. Today, we’ll go a little more in depth into some good things to include in your post-conference routine.

Ask for Feedback.
If you aren’t surveying attendees after the conference you should be! You can use apps to survey attendees real-time during the conference or you can send out a survey email after the conference. Prepare the survey in advance so it’s ready to send immediately following the conference when the experience will be freshest in the minds of attendees. Also, follow-up with your staff and committee members for feedback – connect with anyone who was involved in the inner workings. They will have valuable, unique insight that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Talk About What Worked.
Now that you have surveyed all of the key players it’s time to discuss the findings. You want to hear from the attendees about what part of the conference gave them the most benefit and then build on that aspect for the next event. Find those highly rated speakers and invite them to return for the next event. Learn from staff which new systems worked well so they can be tweaked and repeated for the next event. Reviewing feedback and really examining what “worked” for your association can help you to better understand your organization’s culture and therefore make future events even better.

Talk About Solutions for What Didn’t Work.
Be as realistic and objective as possible about aspects of your event that struggled and then focus on solutions. Analyze the issue to understand the trouble points, but watch that you don’t dwell on mistakes or devolve into finger pointing. Remember, we don’t have a time machine to go back and make something “right” – we can only work to improve the system for the next time.

For instance, if attendance at a reception was low think about marketing the next event differently to promote awareness, switch the format of the reception to create more interest, or offer prize drawings throughout the event to encourage attendees to linger. If there was a bottleneck at registration, brainstorm with your team how to simplify the check in system or better guide attendees through the process. Find out from registration desk staff what FAQ’s they heard from attendees and be proactive with ideas for how to resolve and minimize those “hot spots” at the next conference.

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.”- John Foster Dulles, Former Secretary of State

Measure the Wins.
Be sure to measure the wins and keep track of them. Keep historical data from each event so you can compare and show how your association is progressing. Don’t be shy in sharing the association’s wins! Remember the old adage “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it make a sound?” Event success is similar. Get the word out about how your event was successful. You need to share those wins!

Here are some “wins” you can easily measure and share:
• Improvement on attendee satisfaction ratings
• Higher attendance numbers
• More participating in certification classes
• Stellar feedback on speakers
• Increased social media activity
• Increased volunteer participation
• More sessions than previous events
• Successfully implementing improvements (new type of session/topic, training, exhibit hall change, app, etc.)

Some wins will be best shared with the board and event committee members, but others should be announced far and wide. Get creative in sharing the wins. Consider sending a press release about all time high attendance, writing a newsletter article praising the hardworking volunteers, or sharing an infographic on social media highlighting the number of people who tweeted about the conference.

Get Started On Your Next Event
Gather up all your notes on those wins and solutions to start working on your next event. As you well know, some improvements need to begin far in advance. Finding a new conference app, revamping the sponsorship system, and adding new educational tracks are just a few examples of improvements that likely will require much research and discussion to get off the ground. Be sure to pace yourself so there is plenty of time to implement your new ideas.

Say Thanks
Take time to thank everyone who helped make the conference a success. Your conference “superstars” all the way down to those who take care of the tiny, often unseen tasks are the legs that prop up your event. Often times we forget to thank people who are “just doing their job” – the registration desk staff, graphics designers, conference planners, room hosts, etc. – but thanking those faithful workers is important, too.

Be specific in your thanks. Thank the appropriate volunteers or staff members for being flexible, dependable, creative, tireless, calm, quick thinking, etc. I like to say, “Praise the behavior you want to continue.”

Want to know more about association management? Contact us at info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

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Staff Spotlight: Courtney

 

Staff spotlight

Image Credit: Eva Blue

In this new feature, we ask our team members some quick, fun questions to show a little spotlight on the staff that makes IMI great.

Courtney Smith

Account Associate

CourtneyMy favorite aspect of association management is:

I am new to association management, so I feel like every day is new. I love that! I especially love learning about all of the technology associated with this field. I also love tackling challenging projects. It’s like figuring out a puzzle!

On my desk right now:

Lots of pictures, a mug FULL of coffee, and my giant notebook which keeps me sane.

My favorite blogs:

Right now, it’s Socious and HUG Buzz.

My media mix:

I am always listening to NPR and TED Radio Hour podcasts.

What I’m reading:

Eat. Pray. Love.

What I do when not at work:

I love being outside, so anything that allows that! I have two dogs and an amazing five year old daughter, so playtime is SUPER important at my house! We love board games, outdoor adventures, and going to the park.

If I weren’t in association management, I’d:

Probably be in school learning as much as possible about as many things as possible.

Favorite quote:

“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for” – Grace Hopper

For more about Courtney, don’t forget to check out her full bio on the IMI website!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us at info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

 

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All About Conferences

2016-3-29 All About Conferences

Image Credit: Jose Martin

By Rachel Owen, Communications Manager

Are you ready for “Conference Season”? We’ve compiled some of our best posts that will help make this your most successful conference yet.

Whether you are knee deep in pre-planning, onsite next week (!), or just coming back from another great event, this post is for you.

Pre-Conference

Avoiding Burn-out, Part 1: Self-care and proper planning are crucial to avoid burn-out during hectic times. Check out these great tips to have a smoother, better conference season.
Read: 3 Ways to Avoid Burn-out Before the Conference

Get Things Done: If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your to-do lists and unsure how you’ll get it all done, we’ve got you covered. With some planning and prioritizing you absolutely can conquer that to-do list.
Read: Simple Tips to Complete Your To Do Lists

Packing List: You already know you shouldn’t forget your toothpaste, but what else should you make sure to pack for a conference?
Read: 5 Must-Pack Items for Conferences

Board Meetings: If you have board or committee meetings during your event this is a great opportunity to brush up on some best practices to make sure your board meetings are lean and effective.
Read: 21 Tips for Better Board Meetings

During the Conference

Avoiding Burn-out, Part 2: Even if your event is just around the corner it is not too late to recharge your emotional and physical batteries. Here are some tips to continue your self-care practices while onsite.
Read: 3 Ways to Avoid Burn-out While at Conference and 5 Ways to Save a Bad Day

Theft Prevention: Whether you are attending or managing a conference, remember to keep your valuables safe and protect your investments.
Read: Theft Prevention Measures at Conferences

Communications Strategies: As the saying goes, “Preparation is key.” This old adage is just as true for interpersonal communication as it is for your packing list.
Read: The Gift You’re (Probably) Rejecting, Strategies for Responding to Criticism, and Loose Lips Sink Ships & Client Relationships

Post-Conference

Volunteers: When the buzz of the conference is still fresh on their minds, attendees are excited and open to more of what the association has to offer. Channel that renewed enthusiasm into volunteer opportunities!
Read: 9 Tips to Recruit & Retain Volunteers

Recognition: After the conference, don’t forget to thank your volunteers, board members, and staff. They have all worked hard and a little bit of recognition will go a long way.
Read: The Value of a Handwritten Thank You Note

What are your best conference tips? Share in the comments below!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us at info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

 

 

 

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My CAE Journey

2016-3-15 My CAE Journey

Image Credit: Ian Schneider

Whitney Thweatt, CAE, account manager

Last summer, IMI president and owner Linda Owens shared the news that she had passed the CAE exam and earned her credentials. She strongly encouraged the IMI staff to consider pursuing the certification as well. I’ve never been one to turn down a challenge.

Given the high student success rate, I signed up for the Michigan Society of Association Executive’s CAE online preparation course. I purchased their recommended books, study materials and flash cards, and stocked up on new notepads and pens. I was excited; I hadn’t experienced “back to school” in years!

That excitement didn’t last long.

For several months, association management became my life. Each morning before work, I spent two hours reading, studying my notes, listening to podcasts and call recordings, and taking practice tests. I met with fellow students each week to review the course material and discuss scenarios. We talked about situations I had never even considered during my ten years in association management, much less encountered.

I had to relearn how to study. When attending continuing education sessions and webinars, I listened for new knowledge and ideas that are applicable to the association I work with, however you don’t have that luxury when studying for the CAE exam. You have to be knowledgeable about all aspects of association management, including those you aren’t responsible for in your position. When I ran across a new idea that could benefit my association, I jotted it down, then promptly forgot about it and returned to my reading.

I highly recommend participating in a formal study course. The reading list and weekly calls kept me accountable and discussion with peers helped me to internalize the information rather than just memorize.

On exam day, I was a nervous wreck, but at the same time I knew I was as prepared as possible.

The hardest part? Waiting to get the results. As the two month time frame approached, my anxiety started to build as I stalked the mail man. Opening that letter and seeing that I had passed gave me a complete sense of accomplishment.  All that time and effort (and a grey hair or two?) was worth it!

My journey towards earning the CAE designation has provided me a wealth of knowledge about association management and best practices. Earning the CAE has increased my confidence in my leadership skills and has enhanced the value that IMI Association Executives, Inc. provides to our clients.

I strongly encourage other association professionals to consider the CAE program. My only regret is not pursuing it earlier. Studying for the CAE made me realize there is still much to learn about the profession, even with ten+ years of experience.

Now that the exam is behind me, I can finally review my notes and all the ideas I generated during my reading.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us at info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

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Associations and Executive Directors as Agents of Change

2016-3-1 AGENTS OF CHANGE

Image Credit: Canva

By Linda Owens, CAE, owner, president

While reading Professional Practices in Association Management, specifically the chapter, Sustainability – Associations as Agents of Change in the Collaborative Economy, written by Richard C. O’Sullivan, I got to thinking about the definition of a “change agent.” After some thought, I would say being an agent of change is about being a catalyst at the right moment or opportunity.

A change agent lives in the future, not the present. Regardless of what is going on today, a change agent has a vision of what could or should be and uses that as the governing sense of action. To a certain extent, a change agent is dissatisfied with what they see around them, in favor of a much better vision of the future.

A successful change agent recognizes the opportunity for change, identifies the best approach, and becomes the catalyst that facilitates that change, whether by design, planning, or inspiration. Executive Directors play an important role in the process as an influential force that drives the necessary momentum to get the ball rolling.

The founder of The Forbes Group, Paul Forbes, once observed, “The reason most strategic planning fails is that people are reluctant to discuss their own death.” Richard C. O’Sullivan reminds us “…that those who have risen to the top of their professions or industries and populate association’s boards usually have the most to lose from profound change!”  Does this explain why few associations and executive directors act as change agents?

An association’s ability to adapt and change is often what sustains them in the long run so as an executive director we should not shy away from being an agent of change! Here are a few quotes on how to make it happen, taken from well-known change agents.

  1. “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Albert Einstein
  2. “A corporation is a living organism; it has to continue to shed its skin. Methods have to change. Focus has to change. Values have to change. The sum total of those changes is transformation.” Andrew Grove
  3. “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Apple Inc. motto
  4. “Change has a bad reputation in our society. But it isn’t all bad–not by any means. In fact, change is necessary in life–to keep us moving…to keep us growing…to keep us interested. Imagine life without change. It would be static…boring…dull.” Dennis O’Grady
  5. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman
  6. “Change before you have to.” Jack Welch
  7. “Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” James Belasco and Ralph Stayer
  8. “We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding on to something that is good for you now may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.” JoyBell C.
  9. “The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust
  10. “Your success in life isn’t based on your ability to simply change. It is based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers, and business.” Mark Sanborn

How are you working within your association to be an agent of change? Share in the comments below!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us at info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

 

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Staff Spotlight: Katesha

 

Staff spotlight

Image Credit: Eva Blue

In this new feature, we ask our team members some quick, fun questions to show a little spotlight on the staff that makes IMI great.

 

Katesha Phillips

KateshaAccount Associate

My favorite aspect of association management is:

Learning the different aspects of various associations as well as interacting with the members and industry volunteers.

On my desk right now:

  • Membership recruitment campaign letter templates and preliminary member report
  • Photos of my husband and kids and other love ones that I hold close to my heart
  • My huge notebook with many to-dos and instructions to reference since I am still learning a lot as a new IMI team member!
  • Strengths Finder 2.0

My favorite blogs:

My media mix:

  • Facebook/Twitter/Instagram – Guilty Pleasure
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest – for special projects only

What I’m reading:

Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of A Women’s Soul by John & Stasi Eldredge

Who to follow on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram:

  • CNN

What I do when not at work:

I am very active in my church ministry, I am taking graduate level classes, I blog once a week (see above for link), I’m a wife and mother (another job in itself) … after all of that I try to sleep when possible.

If I weren’t in association management, I’d:

Be a stay at home mom and homemaker. I hate missing vital moments with my daughter and I could use Pinterest a little more often to play around with different recipes and DIY projects around the house!

Favorite quote:

“We will never be happy until we make God the source of our fulfillment and the answer to our longings. He is the only one who should have power over our souls.” -Stormie Omartian

For more about Katesha, don’t forget to check out her full bio on the IMI website!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

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Staff Spotlight: Whitney

Staff spotlightIn this new feature, we ask our team members some quick, fun questions to show a little spotlight on the staff that makes IMI great.

Whitney Thweatt, CAE

2A3A4126-Edit_WebAccount manager

My favorite aspect of association management is:

Working with volunteers. It always amazes me how the board and committee chairs are able to commit so much time and effort to the association while also fulfilling their demanding day jobs.

On my desk right now:

  • Association Law Handbook
  • latest version of the strategic plan
  • photos of my husband, dogs, nephew and niece
  • ASAE’s Associations Now issues
  • StrengthsFinder

My favorite blogs:

My media mix:

What I’m reading:

  • Pirate by Ted Bell (for pleasure)
  • The Will to Govern Well by Glenn Tecker, Paul Meyer, Leigh Wintz and Bud Crouch (for work)

What I do when not at work:

You can find me at Boho Cycle Studio most mornings before work. In the evenings I like to try out new recipes or a local Richmond restaurant.

If I weren’t in association management, I’d:

Own a casual restaurant on the beach, specializing in tacos and craft beer.

Whitney also recently became a Certified Association Executive (CAE) through ASAE! For more about Whitney, don’t forget to check out her full bio on the IMI website.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

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Improve Your Association Through Performance Reviews

2016-1-19 Performance reviews USE ME

Image Credit: Samuel Zeller

By Jennifer Rothman, account manager

Working with associations, we are always asking the question, “What can be improved?” We look for ways to expand member benefits, streamline processes for the Board of Directors, and otherwise improve the associations we serve. One part of that mission for greatness is conducting annual performance reviews of all our staff.

Lindsey VanMeter and Julia Volino of Capital V Consulting gave a helpful presentation on the importance of and best practices for employee performance evaluations during their January 6, 2016, webinar “Effective Performance Management & Discipline Webinar” offered by AENC. Below are the key points that I walked away with and hope to apply in the coming year.

When done properly, annual performance evaluations can do the following three things:

  1. Provide feedback and counseling
    It’s important that the feedback is honest and constructive. Many managers don’t want to have uncomfortable conversations, but if these conversations don’t happen, we are doing a disservice to our employees.
  2. Help to allocate rewards and opportunities
    Conducted properly, annual evaluations encourage employees in areas where they are strong, and provide support in areas where they need to improve.
  3. Help to determine employees’ aspirations and planning development needs
    Making the employee part of the overall process is the key to helping them feel they have a say in their growth within the association. Providing time for the employee to share their feedback and personal goals creates a team approach that shows management’s interest in the employee’s role in the association.

Annual performance reviews of staff provide an opportunity to benefit the association through evaluating how the team’s strengths are being utilized. Take time to discuss with staff what skills they have that are not currently being used to the best advantage. You may find that someone is interested in helping with social media, HTML, or taking on more responsibilities in conference planning. Also, ask staff where they feel they are not working within their strengths. This opens up opportunities for professional development and training to improve skills where staff is lacking confidence. Or, in these conversations, you may find that some tasks can be shifted within the team so that each person is working within their strengths.

Now that we’ve discussed the “why” of performance evaluations, let’s talk about the “how.”

How to best prepare for providing an annual performance evaluation:

  1. Keep a folder for each employee so you can file away examples during the year of where improvement is needed to use as input for performance review. It is always appreciated when you can share an example when giving constructive criticism.
  2. Don’t forget to also keep track of the examples where the employee excelled and showed growth! You always want to give credit where credit is due.
  3. Do your homework. Look over last year’s review to compare performance. In what ways did the employee improve? Where does the employee still need improvement? Are there goals that were not met? Are there goals that were exceeded?
  4. If you are nervous about the meeting, practice. Take the time to practice, out loud, what you are going to say so that you are more comfortable when you sit down with your employee.

Do’s and Don’ts of an annual performance evaluation:

  1. DO stick to your performance evaluation schedule. One of the most serious complaints among employees is NOT how the review is done, but those that are not done or are late.
  2. DO keep a file on every employee. If you only keep files on problem employees, it can be seen as targeting.
  3. DO give reinforcing and corrective feedback when needed. If the employee receives a low rating in a specific area during their annual review and it is the first time they have heard that the area needs improvement, it can feel like they have been blindsided. If the annual review is the first time they hear of an issue, you are not giving the employee an opportunity to improve which can be discouraging and frustrating.
  4. DON’T rate an employee’s performance based on how they compare to another employee’s performance. Ratings should be based on objective, measurable standards.
  5. DON’T use a template review tool. A template is a great starting point, but each evaluation should be customized to the job the employee is doing. It takes time to customize the evaluation but the end result will be more effective and meaningful.
  6. DON’T draw your own conclusions. When you are documenting an area where improvement is needed, provide the facts and focus on the deficiencies, not the perceived underlying cause. Facts and solutions are the areas in which you should stay firmly planted.

Do you have any other advice for providing effective performance reviews? Share with us in the comments below!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

Posted in ASAE, AssnChat, Best Practices, Membership, Non-profits, Productivity, Professional Development, Uncategorized, Volunteers | Leave a comment