Comments: Readers on Hiring, Firing, and Relevance

Readers share their views on recent Associations Now articles.

Recent articles about online communities and staff reduction caught readers' attention, and executive onboarding remains a hot topic. Here are a few recent online comments about Associations Now.

Stay Relevant

"Breaking the Rules for Open Community," July 2011
These are great examples of how organizations evolved to stay relevant and important to their following. I especially like the American Society of Civil Engineers example. I wonder how much energy and possible brand loss ASCE would have encountered had they looked at the unofficial LinkedIn group as competition [rather than collaborating with its volunteer founder].

I believe people cannot do the same things they did in the past and expect the same or better results. In fact, I find doing the same thing usually returns inferior results than in the past. This article does a good job highlighting positive change with associations.

Christopher Uschan
Madison, Wisconsin

Community or Communication?

"Build Community With Your Content," December 2010
I think an important dimension to keep in mind when getting into social media is whether you are primarily interested in communicating and interacting with the public or whether you are trying to create an online community for your members.

I think that these two goals are not necessarily well served via a single system. In my experience, Facebook and other public social media sites function reasonably well as vehicles for publicizing an association and its mission and for getting feedback from the general public. However, those sites do not function as well at creating a good online platform for members to interact with one another. For example, most public social media sites don't provide particularly good tools for managing content, but I think this feature is very helpful for association members to share best practices, etc.

Similarly, for networking among associations members, it is useful to have tools that make it easier to find individuals with similar interests. This can be done by tracking items that a given member adds to the system, what they mark as favorites, questions that they answer, etc., and then using this to help summarize their interests for others to see.

Terry Coatta
Vancouver, British Columbia

The Right Reductions

"9 Things CEOs Should Know Before Reducing Staff," July 2011
Select positions, not employees, when reducing the workforce. Identify functions that are needed and either retain the people currently occupying those positions or replace them with somebody else.

Employees may not all have transferable skills. You may need to lay off good employees if their positions are no longer necessary.

David Patt, CAE
Association Executive Management
Skokie, Illinois

The Next Wave of Execs

"One Foot Out the Door," August 2011
In a recent study, Daring to Lead 2011, by the Meyer Foundation and CompassPoint Nonprofit Services reported in the August 2011 edition of Associations Now, 3,000 nonprofit executives were surveyed on their employment tenure and anticipation for turnover in the next five years. The results speak volumes on the lack of succession planning in the association community, while also highlighting the fact that there is a future for those seeking employment with nonprofits and associations.

One of the most startling figures released in the study was that 10 percent of the surveyed CEOs are actively considering leaving right now but have not given notice to their governing bodies. If you take into consideration the findings of this study along with the natural turnover of those unfortunate individuals who don't have their contracts renewed or are outright terminated, there is certainly a future for those who are now entering the association community.

The nonprofit arena is as viable as ever despite the changes we all face. With new and energized youthful leaders, the profession will continue to be the field of choice for those who never even thought that eventually they would end up here.

Daniel C. Borschke, CAE
Environmental Association
Management Partners
Plover, Wisconsin
Excerpted from In Transition blog post, "There is a Great Future in Associations"

Hiring Success

"How to Welcome a New CEO," April 2011
These are thoughtful reflections on an oft-neglected topic. Jackie [Eder-Van Hook] points out that organizations ought to be as intentional about onboarding the senior execs as finding and hiring them. We don't do the latter as well as we should and we largely neglect the former. (We're much better, I think, at the wailing and gnashing of teeth that follow a failed hire!) This article represents a useful antidote to part of that unfortunate pattern.

Pat Nichols
Transition Leadership International
Washington, DC

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