Setting up a Covid-19 Task Force is a Proactive Strategy

How do we anticipate and adapt to the current Covid-19 situation?  Roy McGrath, IOM and Michael Gellman, CPA conducted a webinar on creating task forces as a proactive strategy.

A place to start is to manage your focus, expertise and deliverables on a specific task.  If you do, that will lead to your outcomes.

 

Public health vs economics are the two key areas most chambers are focusing on right now for their small business members and the community at large.

 

They went on to talk about the different uses of task forces in these Covid-19 times:

 

Task Forces can be set-up to:

 

  • Help give advice on internal changes at your organization (strategic planning, etc.)
  • Reopening guidance for your small business members.
  • How you will conduct future events for your chamber members based on the latest information from the local and state health care professionals.
  • Safe work environment for chamber staff when they re-engage back in the office.

 

They gave some best practices advice you should think about when forming a task force:

 

  • The task force should be expert-driven, and it should have external partners.
  • It’s key to set expectations for the task force with clear roles and duties of its members (3-5 task force members).
  • Task forces give advice and information and have no direct authority or approval functions, that’s the role of your board.
  • Keep each task force focused on their specific issue and not stray from that task.
  • Task forces should report to CEO and then secondarily the executive committee.
  • Communications should be clear both ways.
  • Weekly meetings might be a place to start.  You can adjust as you move forward.
  • Set a 90-day task force period with the option to extend if needed.
  • Transparency and messaging is key from senior management of the chamber.  It’s about telling your story!

 

They ended with reminding those participating that the four key points of a task force:

 

  1. Resource to your chamber;
  2. Can be nimble;
  3. A team of specialists; and
  4. It’s your consulting team to provide solutions.

 

A task force can help you manage through these unprecedented times.  Set-up your task force/s today!

Board Selection: What’s Your Role?

If you’re like most other chambers you’re selecting one sixth of your board each year.  That statement is based on a typical board appointment of two years, renewable for three terms.

Does that sound familiar?

Ok.  Now what role do you play in identifying or selecting new board members.

I’ve written many times in the past that you want three things from a board member:

  • Passion
  • Intellect
  • Money

The other piece of the puzzle that many have written about in the past is getting the right skill-set on your board.  I couldn’t agree more!

What does that mean?

In the simplest of terms, do you have a lawyer, CPA, educator, transportation expert, workforce, economic development and technology experts, etc. on your board?  Do you have diversity as it relates to size of businesses, geography, ethnic and yes, all age groups in the workforce (Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and now Gen Z)?  All can contribute and play a vital role in the conversation.

The more diverse your board the greater the conversation.  Embrace it!

Now back to your role in identifying and selecting new board members.  If you don't, you should have a file in your desk drawer of potential new board members.  Are you grooming new board members by asking them to serve on committees or task forces first?  If not, you should.  What a great training ground for future board participation.

What you don’t want is a board made up of what I’ll call, “friends of friends.”  Whether you’re officially on the nominating committee or not, you at least can fill the pipeline with quality candidates.

That’s the CEO’s role, at a minimum, in the volunteer selection process.  For more information on board management go HERE.

Good luck!

Chairman/CEO Partnership

Yes, I said partnership in the title.  At the end of the day, if you don’t have a partnership with your chief volunteer, you’re not in a good place.  Not for you and not for the organization.

We all know that the board, led by the Chairman, sets the policy and direction of your chamber, but it is the CEO that implements that policy with his or her staff.

The strength of the relationship between the Chairman and CEO will have a direct impact on the success of the chamber and its program of work.  You must have open and regular communication with your board Chairman.

And then there’s – Trust!

Without it you will have no partnership.  You must both come from a place where you trust each other.  You both need to be accountable for the work of the chamber and its success!

The CEO gets a new Chairman every year.  And each year that can bring new challenges and opportunities in the relationship between the two.

The Chairman and CEO should always stay focused on the two being aligned, focused and share the same vision for the Chamber.

For resources on the Chairman/CEO partnerships go HERE.

Elements of Good Governance

I was recently reading the 2020 ASAE’s Board Brief and was fascinated by the chapter on governance and the research done by their Foundation on the subject matter.

The data’s interesting and they broke it down into the following areas:

Policies and Procedures – make sure your manuals are well documented and followed.

Structure and Function – what is the size of your board and is it working as well as how man board meetings are you conducting a year?

Diversity Goals – do you have a plan and are you tracking your progress?

Self-assessment – are you surveying your board members and asking how they feel about their participation and effectiveness?

Performance Evaluation – do you have a formal reporting mechanism to your board or membership of the results?

Goal Setting – do you set goals (think scorecards) as a way of tracking your goals?

Preparation and Training – are you conducting that board orientation for new board members outlining their responsibilities: Duty of Care, Loyalty and Obedience (which I’ve written about before and can be found HERE)?  And are you giving outside training on how to read a nonprofit’s financial statements?

For the original source for the article go HERE.

Foresight vs Strategic Planning

I’ve read a lot about this recently and I think I’ve finally put my head around the difference.

ASAE has a website dedicated to the subject matter and it is a term that has surfaced, at least in my association management reading, in the last 5 plus years.

For me, in a nutshell, foresight is an exercise in trying to identify what the future will look like for your organization.

Many chambers are doing the 2025 or 2030 scenarios with interesting results.  In other words, think what could it be?

Strategic Planning is the process of analyzing the current landscape, through and environmental scan, a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, and determining a set of goals, strategies and tactics, usually 1-3 or 3-5 years out, on achieving those goals.

Most of us are just trying to get through the day with the limited resources we have but I would suggest that if you spent the time, with a facilitated board retreat, you too would benefit of looking to the future.

I’m sure by now you’ve all read the ACCE’s Horizon Initiative: Chambers 2025?  Well that’s just around the corner.  It’s time to do the 2050 exercise.

For more information on the Foresight work by ASAE go HERE.

Are Your Emails Really Member-focused?

I recently attended a webinar led by Bill Graham, Graham Corporate Communications and Institute for Organization Management faculty member.

He started with the concept that you need to focus on what your members are worried about and connect your email to their world.

Bill always reminds his audiences that communication is not speaking or sending emails, those are activities.  "Communication is a result; it's what you get into their head."  “Think of communication as a one-way street. Nobody has to listen.”

He went on to talk about specifics as it relates to the subject line, introduction, body and the close of your email.

Subject line: It’s the penthouse of the email real estate, the most valuable, so find a unique perspective that engages the receiver.

Introduction: Your first words matter because they see them on your phone, so be personable, respectful, friendly and helpful.  Focus on them not you.

Body: Focus like a trusted advisor, not like a salesperson.  You are taking up their time.  It should be worth their time, not worth your time.

Close: With a “Call to Action” - if they got to the end, they want an action step, so ask them to: attend a meeting, make a decision, attend a conference call, etc.

He also gave us some general email rules to follow:

  • More is seldom more;
  • Positives turn on, negatives turn off;
  • Simple is memorable, complex is forgettable;
  • Avoid cliches, they always sound like autopilot; and
  • Be personable and comfortably friendly...at a respectful distance.

Some general tips throughout his presentation that he gave that I had to write down because I think they are repeatable:

  • Before you speak...WAIT - ask yourself: "Why Am I Talking!
  • Change your pronouns to: you/your, or even: they/their.  Using first person pronouns: I/my/we/our, is talking about your world, not their world.
  • Are you a trusted advisor?

The final bullet, in my opinion, was his main message - “are you a trusted advisor?”

Bill suggests you’re a trusted advisor if you:

  • Engage with your members;
  • Ask questions and listen to your members;
  • Are interested in your member’s needs; and
  • You focus on long-term relationships...not short-term gains.

In closing, and focusing on the suggestions from Bill Graham and the title of this blog post, your emails should focus on the following:

  • Subject Line - engage the receiver.
  • Introduction - focus on them…they see the first few words.
  • Body - be a trusted advisor and focus on their world, their results: reasons, motives and goals.
  • Close - end the email with a “Call to Action.”

If it’s not about their world...it’s likely not communicated...it’s just NOISE.

Be a trusted advisor and keep your emails member-focused!

Good Board Governance - Part II

Now let’s have a discussion about the difference and importance of both indemnification and director and officers insurance.

Indemnification - most if not all organizations indemnify their board of directors for any financial liability for serving on the board.  The indemnification clause usually is stated in the bylaws.

It also goes without saying that the board member will be indemnified as long as he or she did not do anything illegal or acted in bad faith.

Check your bylaws to see if your chamber board members are indemnified.

Director and Officers Insurance - most know this as D&O insurance which protects your board members from any lawsuits concerning legal activities.  And it is common knowledge that these claims and lawsuits are generally employee based.

And as stated in The Perfect Board book on page 80, these types of claims or lawsuits can be wrongful termination, sexual harassment, copyright/trademark infringements to name a few.

The bottom line, make sure you have the indemnification clause in your bylaws and you are providing (any paying) for D&O insurance.

For a legal resource go HERE.