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ROI Tools to Support your Strategies for Reducing Employee Turnover

By lone Terrio, Marketing & Communications Director, The Harrington Company

You have a new client coming in during your company’s busiest time of year. Your staff is already stretched to the limit and you are onboarding a new client while hiring to fill the additional staffing needs. Now, you need to make time to train a new employee. For a busy AMC leader, this can feel daunting. You and your team are already working longer than normal days. At the same time, having a good onboarding process and providing the right training can impact how your new employee engages with your company and how long you can retain them.


According to “Strategies for Reducing Employee Turnover and Tools for Calculating ROI” a white paper from the Incentive & Engagement Solution Providers (IESP), a Strategic Industry Group of the Incentive Marketing Association; Bureau of Labor Statistics show that on average, 27% (nearly a third) of employees, voluntarily leave their jobs each year. This results in their employers having to spend up to 20% of a person’s annual salary to replace each employee.

Not only is this expensive, 78% of association managers view vacant positions as unproductive, particularly vacancies in membership-related positions says PNP Staffing Group in their 2019 “Association Salaries and Staffing Trends” report.

With those numbers, and a tight labor market with less than 4% unemployment, it makes sense to have an organizational plan to manage employee retention. The IESP white paper outlines four concepts for reducing turnover and provides tools to help calculate costs.

Calculating the cost of employee turnover
Turnover costs include direct or “hard” costs such as advertising, overtime, temporary replacements, background checks, physical exams, travel, relocation, and employee referrals. There are also “soft” costs for time spent or lost through lower productivity, loss of morale, loss of customer contacts, interviewing, onboarding and training new hires to consider.

Identifying the reasons for turnover
“When looking at employee turnover, you’re not just looking at why one person leaves and what it costs to replace that person, you’re looking for bigger trends or issues the company can address to reduce turnover across the organization,” says Brant Dolan, CPIM, director business development, Quality Incentive Company, and IESP board member.

“Employers need to understand what employees like about working there, but also what frustrates or disappoints employees so they can address system-wide improvements as well,” Dolan explained.

From this information the supervisor and the organization can consider strategies for removing the obstacles to increase satisfaction and reduce frustrations.

Developing strategies to address the reasons for turnover
According to the IESP, once the reasons for turnover have been identified and prioritized, management should concentrate on addressing the top five. For example, if an employee has a high workload and feels undervalued, you could provide an incentive to achieve a stretch goal or look at reorganizing workloads to reduce the burden.

PNP Staffing Group noted that organizations successful in finding and holding onto the best staff in a competitive marketplace follow talent management best practices that are key to their success. Leaders are hearing from candidates that several elements are essential in making an organization a “go to” place to work. These include: managers are held accountable, performance is valued and rewarded, staff work in teams, the organization invests in coaching and training, clear opportunities are offered for professional growth, workplace is productive and supportive with clear opportunities for growth – and of course – a consistent onboarding process.

Calculating the ROI of reducing turnover
The IESP white paper comes with eight calculator tools to help managers measure everything from the costs of turning over each employee such as advertising the job, hiring, and training to the costs and ROI of the turnover reduction strategies such as reward and recognition programs. According to the IESP, organizations that measure their costs and ROI find the investment made to reduce turnover is typically much less than turnover cost.

You can download the white paper and calculators by visiting the IESP website.

Looking to make a new hire? Visit the new AMC Institute Talent Center today and take advantage our employer resources. Find guides, tips, and articles on how best to manage your hiring process. And, don’t forget to visit the AMC Institute job board – the only job board dedicated to helping the AMC industry find and secure talent. AMCs will benefit from flexible, affordable pricing options and messaging specific to active and passive job seekers. Enjoy intro pricing for a limited time only.

Travel Trends Index: Strong Domestic Leisure Travel Carries Weaker Business, Int'l Inbound Travel

US Travel Association

Travel to and within the United States grew 3% year-over-year in August, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s latest Travel Trends Index (TTI), marking the industry’s 116th straight month of growth.

The bright spot in the TTI was the strength of the domestic leisure travel segment, which expanded 4% while vacation intentions reached their highest level in 2019 thus far. However, forward-looking bookings and search data indicate there may be uncertainty on the horizon for the domestic segment: the Leading Travel Index (LTI), the TTI’s predictive element, projects domestic travel growth will soften to just 1.8% in the coming six months.

Domestic travel as a whole grew 3.4%, dragged down slightly by a weakening domestic business travel segment (1.2%), though business travel is expected to pick up again and expand 1.6% over the next six months.

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When the Going Gets Disruptive, AMCs Get Innovative

By Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE – Owner/CEO, Essentient Association Management

You've probably heard the expression "innovate or die" somewhere along the way. Maybe it was in the trenches working 12-hour days or possibly out on the streets trying to drum up some clients for your newly launched association management company. Often attributed to Peter Drucker, it makes me think of a caveman and the invention of fire, or the wheel. There is something primal, yet exciting about that phrase.

I recently participated in a panel discussion at AMCs Engaged in Columbus, Ohio. The topic was about how and why AMCs have to be innovators in order to up their game, keep their clients and maintain a sustainable business. Being an innovator is often the difference between a best in class enterprise or, just a commodity. And seriously, who wants to be viewed as a run of the mill commodity? Not this AMC.

About ten years ago our largest client approached us with a challenge. A commercial real estate association, they were the 8th largest of 54 North American chapters and wanted to grow their young professionals' program.

Enter the disruption: About a year earlier the association had launched at 35 years of age and under program to help grow the membership and address the cycling out of older members. They wanted to know from us if we could help them develop a mentorship program that would attract and retain the association's Developing Leaders while engaging senior members and enabling them to give back.

The problem was, the mentors were very busy C-suite executives and could not commit to a lot of time.

Our client suggested a dating site-like platform that would match mentors and mentees and facilitate meetings over a 6-month period of time. In other words, this was not going to be your grandmother's mentorship program featuring lengthy application forms, hour and hours of volunteers poring over spreadsheets to search data sets, and staff attempting to manually match column A to column B.

Enter the innovation: Working with our vision and get it done mindset, our web developer built an in-the-cloud solution with a mentee-facing front end and a mentor portal back end. Sandwiched in between was a beautiful interface that showcased our mentors and invited our pre-approved mentees to take part. Our pilot was launched in February of 2010.

20 random mentees were drawn from a large pool of Developing Leaders who expressed interest in being a part of the pilot. On an assigned day and time, they were invited to select up to two of the 20 mentors for meet ups. Like the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, mentees worked quickly to book appointments with their preferred mentors and all available timeslots were gone in less than an hour.

Applying the principles of flash mentoring (or micro mentoring as it is otherwise known), mentorship matches involved meeting up over coffee, over lunch or in a boardroom. These weren't job interviews or sales pitches but an opportunity to connect and network with some of the biggest names in the sector. In some cases, these meet ups evolved into longer term business relationships.

Following a successful run of the pilot, the program grew and we invited our users (mentors and mentees) to provide their feedback so that the platform could be continuously improved, made even more robust and easy to use.

Enhancements were constantly being implemented and mentor / mentee resources added. And the Developing Leader membership expanded exponentially taking this cohort from 160 to over 600, and the association went from being 8th largest chapter in North America to 2nd largest.

It was around the 7-year mark that other associations started to take notice including the U.S.-based association of whom our client was a chapter. Because of our client’s success, they wanted to make the platform available to all of their chapters. The problem was, it wasn't packaged that way.

Enter the partnership: Working with our web developers (they were also some pretty awesome code writers) we formed a partnership so that we could develop a stand-alone product that all associations and AMCs could access. Of course, there was the market research, focus groups and pricing strategies that had to be completed but in fall 2017 we launched Mentorship Rocket, a cloud-based solution that associations have been waiting for. Since then we have signed up several Mentorship Rocket clients in Canada and the U.S. plus, as a bonus, our association clients get access to our platform for free. This helps them to build value for their members just as we have built value for our associations.

As an AMC we continue to seek innovations and develop solutions for our client associations. These may not be as big and bold as Mentorship Rocket but they can be just as impactful if we can help them to overcome challenges, turn a corner or embrace disruption.

We are still an AMC first, but it makes us feel good to know that, because of our innovation, we have been able to develop a product that benefits the sector in a really special way.

Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE is the founder and owner of Essentient Association Management, a Burlington, Ontario, Canada-based AMC. Constance is the co-founder and current President of the Canadian Chapter of the AMC Institute and sits on the Board of the AMC Institute. She is also a founder and partner of Mentorship Rocket (www.mentorshiprocket.com), a cloud-based mentorship platform designed for associations. Constance can be reached at [email protected]

Are You Ready for Real ID?

What You Need to Know About REAL ID

On October 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will implement the final phase of REAL ID enforcement, requiring Americans to present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of authenticated ID to go through airport security checkpoints.

REAL ID refers to a set of security standards established by Congress in 2005 for card issuance, card design and application processing that individual states must follow when issuing driver’s licenses and other forms of identification; most REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses feature a star in the upper-right corner.

However, an estimated 99 million Americans (39%) do not have any form of identification (e.g. REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, U.S. passport, U.S. military ID or an enhanced driver’s license) that will be accepted after October 1, 2020. Furthermore, many Americans (57%) are unaware of the October 1, 2020 deadline for enforcement. Air travel risks being seriously disrupted if millions of passengers are turned away on October 1, 2020 for not having the necessary documents to fly.

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How to Design Smarter Learning Experiences

Recently, I listened to a Leading Learning podcast that featured Connie Malamed a learning experience design consultant. Being in the LMS industry and seeing all of the different ways our clients design and present their eLearning programs, I always find topics like these interesting to share.

Visual Design 

The podcast kicked off with talking about visual design — visuals can be used to express ideas and concepts with so many different ways to use visual to depict scenarios. eLearning Industry listed 6 reasons why visuals are the most powerful aspect of learning:

  • Helps store information longer
  • Make communication quicker and simpler
  • Aid better comprehension
  • Act as simulators for emotions
  • Drive motivation
  • Unsuitable visuals equal unhappy learners
  • Cognitive Load

Connie then went on to talk about 'cognitive load,' which she describes as the total amount of mental activity imposed on working memory in any one instant. She's concluded that working memory — the aspect of our minds that is conscious where we manipulate information — dominates everything we do in terms of learning. It is easy to overload our working memory, so we must be careful to not present a learner with a lot of interactive parts or too much information as they can become overloaded and drained.

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A Few Ideas for Supporting Association Chapter Leaders

By Colleen Bottorff of MemberClicks

It’s easy for communication to break down between the national organization and leaders at various chapter organizations. People get busy, often chapter leaders are volunteers, and trying to keep a dozen (or more) of them all on the same page takes a lot of collaboration and coordination.

So, what do you do? How do you support association chapter leaders from afar, ensuring that they feel like they’re being taken care of and have the autonomy to manage their chapter?We have a few thoughts:

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The Hunt for Your Perfect LMS is Over

Jennifer Rathgaber of Community Brands

Learning Management System Matchmaker: Deal Breaker Edition

Finding the perfect learning management system (LMS) is a tough job. What is it about a successful LMS that your association should be looking for? Here are the deal breakers and what to avoid.

Finding the perfect learning management system (LMS) is a tough job. There are so many options out there – some are flashy and have all the bells and whistles. Others are smaller, with less functionality. There are also plenty in between. After listening to sales pitches and sitting in on demos, time and time again, you start to wonder, “Are we ever going to find the right match for us?”

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Omnipress 2019 Conference Industry Report


How many ways do you distribute your conference materials? How are your peers delivering content materials? Want more efficiency in how you are providing content at your upcoming meetings?

Check out the 2019 State of the Conference Report by Onmipress and find out the latest trends you'll want to incorporate into your next meeting! 

Consensus – The Association Leadership Challenge

By Rick Church, Head Coach, CM Services Inc.

Consensus is a collaborative process by which decisions are made based on overwhelming agreement of a group. Ultimately a decision by consensus is one that everyone supports (or can live with).

Associations are groups of people or companies with similar interests or in similar professions or industries. 

Even though bylaws and rules of order typically set numerical requirements for voting, associations by their very nature must make many decisions through a consensus process because there isn’t one person in charge or one “owner.” 

But how does an association leader help the association achieve decisions through consensus? This can be especially challenging because most association leaders are volunteers who have never followed a consensus based decision-making process. They’re used to making the decisions on their own or within a small leadership team. 

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Association Management is a Team Sport

By Beth Quick-Andrew, CAE, Q&A Business Solutions 

With a Major League Baseball game on in the background as I write this article, I am reminded of why I am such a big baseball fan. Baseball is a great metaphor for association management. We must work together at all levels of the organization in order to put a great team on the field to ensure a win for our players…our valued members!

Welcome to the Show!

When a baseball player starts in a major league game, it is a lifelong dream realized. When a member joins his or her professional or trade association, it solidifies his or her commitment to their profession or industry. At the national or international level, major league resources such as industry research, large conferences with varied education and sponsors, call in help desks for questions, affinity discount programs, just to name a few are available to members at their fingertips. Members may join their national/international professional or trade association by way of a chapter or member section, having had a great experience connecting with peers geographically or by specialization.

Conversely, national/international members join a chapter or member section to have a more individualized connection to the association. Components provide local or regional networking opportunities with the ability to truly connect face-to-face with peers in the profession or industry. The value of face-to-face interaction is immeasurable. This is where a referral may be given, a deal may be made, or a job lead is handed off. This teamwork happens when people unite for a common purpose. 

Follow the Same Game Plan

To generate a win for the members, it is important that all levels of the organization follow the same game plan. Best-selling author Simon Sinek reminds us in Start with Why to focus on why the organization exists and how each level of the organization can support the why. What does this mean for the association at all levels:
  • We are all on the same team. Members are not “your members” (visualize finger pointing at each other) …they are “our members” collectively regardless of national/international or chapter membership. We are all on the same team.
  • National/International staff is not the umpire who misses a call. There is no need for chapter managers to charge out of the dugout and argue the call. Don’t assume ill intent. Generally, there are very valid reasons for any decision.
  • Whenever possible, it important to keep all team members in the loop when decisions are being made and avoid unilateral decisions that impact multiple levels of the organization. Make sure the signs are communicated effectively.
  • Teams get off track when team members don’t feel heard. Listen to what each member of the team is communicating. Keep the focus on a winning strategy for all members.
  • Professionals manage the association at all levels. Don’t assume that a chapter administrator/executive is just “an admin doing nametags.” Many chapters are managed by association management professionals who hold the CAE credential and/or work for Association Management Companies. They swing for the fences every day.
  • A key to team success is positioning members where they can be the most successful. Some member offerings are best done with the resources of the National/International organization. Others may be best offered through a chapter or component. Levels of the organization should not be mutually exclusive, but rather complementary. One player rarely makes a double play alone.
Put Them in the Hall of Fame
  • Success is the residue of hard work and lots of practice. Celebrate those successes and engender innovation at all levels of the organization. Awards programs are great for recognizing the unique, creative and impactful member efforts to advance the mission of the association.
Game time situations require different strategies depending on a variety of factors. Always remember, a grand slam can happen with any combination of base hits, walks and a big home run. Make sure your coaching staff is focused on positioning members to swing for the fences no matter where they are in your organization.

Connecting Culture to Brand

by Ken Monroe, Chairman & CEO, Bostrom

There’s no question that an organization’s culture can be challenging to precisely define and measure, but we all know it is essential that the effort be made to design, establish and maintain a strong culture. Although there has been significant attention focused on organizational culture in recent years, there has been more dealing with the concept of brand. The treatment of brand began mostly as a marketing concept, but has morphed into a broader concept that encompasses the overall identity of the organization. Culture and brand are closely related – or they should be. The culture of an organization may be viewed as its “personality”. It captures the essence of the organization’s purpose, its worldview, and its values, sometimes characterized as “how it does business”. It is something that emerges from, and is expressed through, the everyday functioning of the organization. Brand is more of an external identity concept. An organization’s brand captures how the organization and its products/services are viewed by the outside world – its customers or members, its suppliers, and the community at large with which it comes into contact.

Both culture and brand share the need to be genuine in order to be effective and positive drivers of organizational success. As the saying goes, you can’t fake sincerity, at least not in the long term. It is essential therefore that the “personality” of the organization (its culture) and the “perception” of the organization and its products/services (its brand) be in sync. If they are not, neither will be believable or effective. 

A common description is that “culture is brand and brand is culture”. However, there is a hierarchy and sequential dimension to the relationship between them. Culture is a more fundamental dimension of the organization. It emerges from within as the ultimate impact of how the organization functions, the attitudes and behaviors of its employees (alignment from the very top to the very bottom), the way customers or members are treated, and the true and ongoing commitment to quality of product/service. This is how the personality of the organization manifests itself. It is how it does business and is multi-dimensional to the extent that everything the organization does defines and affects it. If a consistent culture is not evident on the inside of the organization, desired outside perceptions will not follow. 

Brand is a similar but more contained or specifically targeted phenomenon. It emerges mainly from how the product/service is defined, marketed, delivered, and stands the test of time. It is closely related to the organization’s value proposition in that it relates to how others -- but mainly existing or potential members/customers/clients -- perceive the likelihood of receiving high quality and good value from their interactions with the organization, especially related to services, purchases, or other business interactions. 

It is essential, therefore, for culture and brand to complement each other. But in thinking through the process of creating and maintaining a strong culture and a strong brand, an organization must start with culture. Culture can and should be the base for establishing a strong brand. If the organization starts with a brand concept, and then tries to fit its culture to the characteristics of the brand, there is a strong potential for culture to become mostly a marketing tool and not a way of doing business, and as a result, it will not be believable. 

For both organizational culture and brand, it is important to distinguish between desired and actual. Culture and branding each take a lot of introspection and discipline to define and achieve. Each requires “walking the talk” once it is defined and shaped. To be successful, both require long term commitment. Branding is not a short term, product-specific marketing campaign, and culture is not an organizational development program aimed at correcting a specific problem. 

For such long-term efforts to be successful, ongoing attention is needed. It is a total commitment to understanding and defining the culture the organization wishes to establish and live up to, starting with the everyday activities of all employees. Branding has similar needs, encompassing product/service design, communications (including website design), customer interaction protocols and pricing. In both cases, BEHAVIOR DRIVES SUCCESS for both culture and brand. Bostrom recently went through a corporate rebranding initiative that used elements of our culture surrounding creativity, discipline, trust, collaboration, transparency, accountability, and fun. We looked at what had contributed to our longevity in the market, to our association partners we’ve had for one to thirty years, and the transformation our company has recently gone through to deliver modern services we feel have the most impact on our client success. It was critical we matched our brand with who we were culturally as a company. 

Differentiation is a key need that organizations require for business success. How does the organization make itself and its products/services stand out from its competitors? If there is one marketing concept that best generates business success, and is also one of the most difficult to achieve, it is market differentiation. A key to differentiation may be found in organizational culture and branding and the relationship between the two. An organization that has a strong and consistent culture and brand identity has a good base for defining and communicating what is unique about its products/services and how it provides them. The core tenet of good salesmanship is for the salesman to gain the trust of the customer before “selling” the product (i.e. to sell him/her self first). Applied to overall organizational differentiation, this core tenet of salesmanship can leverage a strong corporate culture and brand to make the organization and its products/services stand out as distinct (and hopefully better). 

WRITE IT DOWN. For both culture and brand, there is sometimes a tendency to “talk it through” and then summarize the final result as a set of values and behaviors (culture) and a concise characterization of the brand as a “brand promise” or “tag line”. These can be important and valuable ways to communicate the organization’s culture and brand, but they are not enough. It is too easy to gloss over important nuances in such concise characterizations. The development process for both culture and brand should carefully document, ”in writing”, the major discussion points and decisions that go into generating them. Seeing results on “paper” is an excellent way to quickly spot gaps and inconsistencies that need to be filled or clarified. The process of designing, assessing, and implementing strong and sustainable culture and brand is substantially enhanced through documentation. Characterizing the results for purposes of communication in the form of a values statement, a brand promise, or a tag line are good ideas. But for both the essence of the culture and the brand to be something that is ingrained in all employees and participants in the organization and something that they walk around with in their heads day-to-day, documentation far beyond these concise communications tools is needed. 

In today’s complex, fast changing, and competitive environment, organizations must strive constantly for consistency in who they are, what they do, and how they do it. A combination of strong, mutually reinforcing organizational culture and branding are keys to success in differentiation in the marketplace, and in assuring that the organization provides products and services that meet the needs of its customers or members, and lives up to the expectations of both the stakeholders and the organization providing the product/service.

Cultivating Meaningful Working Relationships Across Generations

By Carly Silberstein, DES, CED, CEO, Redstone Agency

For the first time in history, we have four generations active in the workforce. Day in and day out we hear about the challenges of this reality on society, businesses, and associations alike. Let’s take a quick look at a few ways that we can all cultivate more meaningful working relationships by focusing on the common ground, or similarities, and leveraging our differences.

Understanding 

Association/workplace training and education on generational and societal research is incredibly beneficial (XYZ University can help with this). This type of training can help provide a common ground or understanding of where our fellow colleagues and members are coming from. What is their value system? Which life events, societal shifts and/or technological advancements have shaped your colleague/members lived experiences? How has this possibly impacted their upbringing? Armed with this factual data, people can grasp some of the realities that may not have been known to them or may have been accepted as stereotypes or generalizations. It is also recommended that associations and organizations do what they can to determine the preferred method of communication for each person (member/employee). Communication is central to everything that we do in all aspects of our lives, so understanding communication preferences and finding a common ground, is essential for establishing productive and meaningful working relationships. 

For more background information on this topic, please read “With 4 generations in the workplace, employers expected to juggle vastly different expectations”. 

Open-mindedness and non-judgmental approaches 

It is important that organizations foster safe environments where people are encouraged, celebrated and acknowledged for their unique contributions. While easier said than done, one way that associations and corporations can do this is by facilitating cross-generational work teams, where it makes sense. In certain industries or work environments this is not always possible, in these cases, encouraging ad hoc brainstorming or cross-departmental ideation, will allow people who don’t often have the opportunity to work together, to come together, share their thoughts, ideas and experience related to the problem or scenario at hand and will likely yield a better result than if the problem was solved in isolation. This type of work ought to be highlighted and celebrated. 

Collaboration versus competitiveness – Working and learning from one another – Knowledge exchange versus transfer

This can be facilitated through workplace or association programs such as co-mentorship, buddy system, sessions and workshops which highlight different members and employee skills and strengths, award programs (new member / employee versus legacy), etc. Similar to the examples provided above (creating an open-mindedness and non-judgmental work environment), we need to be thinking about opportunities for collaboration versus working in silos. 

Patience 

We are constantly surrounded by differences; whether it’s generational, personal preferences, cultural, or whatever else. We won’t always see eye to eye with our fellow members or colleagues. This is just the reality. Working with individuals who may be of another generation is no different. Take a deep breath, and practice patience and kindness. At the end of the day, we are all human and are just trying to do our part. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other ways to cultivate meaningful relationships. How are some of the ways that your association / organization is leveraging the similarities and differences of employees and members of different generations for a more productive and profitable workforce?

6 Proven Ways to Increase Attendee Mobile Event App Adoption

Content Provided by Pathable

Though it seems like every attendee has a mobile device or tablet in their hand, we hear from many event managers that their mobile event app adoption remains low, with average attendee usage ranging from 48.5%-57%. In this post, we'll share some causes of why your mobile event app adoption could be low and our favorite, proven 6 useful tips you can start using today about how to get more attendees to download and use your mobile event app.

What are causes of low mobile event app adoption?

Your participants do want to use the tool you've invested in. Typically low adoption and engagement stems from a lack of education, a lack of need, or a combination of both. Attendees are nervous to admit they don't know what they're doing, so they just don't say anything. Good news is there are ways to combat this.

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The (Re) Accreditation Process Made Me a Believer

By JJ Colburn, CAE, President & Partner, Strategic Association Management 

A little more than two years ago, I made the move from serving as a stand-alone association executive to the AMC owner world. Like many who make this transition, I spent the first 18 months just trying to keep my head above water/drinking from the firehose/dodging flaming arrows…insert your favorite appropriate analogy here. But for most reading this, I imagine you understand the challenges inherent in the AMC pace and the juggling skills we must acquire. 

I knew from the beginning that our firm was “accredited” – in fact, this was part of the preliminary fact-finding discussion I had with my then would-be business partner. Early on, she explained often to me and others that our firm had set processes to guide staff in multiple areas of our services as association managers, as well as various aspects of the business side of things. She explained the differences in accreditation as “process-based” versus an individual credential, like the CAE, as more “knowledge-based.” She talked about the great value of being an accredited firm – both internally and externally. 

On paper, all of this made sense…. AND then I jumped head first into the company. Soon, the day-to-day challenges of running a growing AMC hit like a ton of bricks - transitions, onboarding, complicated team structures, scopes of service, contracts – so much to learn and do! So, I seemingly pushed “accreditation” to the side and focused on the work. Except, I didn’t. In actuality, day after day was spent learning the process that had been set up around these things through accreditation. In many cases, I was able to add my own perspective and make improvements based on my experience in leading associations. In all, I was living and learning and working our team through our processes each day. But even in this effort, I still didn’t really make the connection between being “accredited” and doing the work. In my mind, despite being told otherwise, “accreditation” was something to attain and hold for outward purposes. It wasn’t until my firm began the re-accreditation process that I had my a-ha moment. And now, I’m a believer. 

While the ultimate product you get to create and the designation is great, there are many additional benefits for a company. Here are three critical take-aways I experienced in the process. 

1. People Support What They Help to Create

As a young student council leader, this mantra was woven throughout early training and experiences and shaped my leadership philosophy more than any other. So, imagine my delight when I saw this really come to life for our staff when going through the reaccreditation process. Our firm has experienced rapid growth over the last few years and our team has grown from eight to 19 in that time. Many on our team have less than one year with the company. Some have significant association experience, but little with the AMC model. Some are learning both concurrently. As we embarked on reaccreditation preparation, we made sure that every person on our staff contributed to the review and rewrite, if needed, of at least one service area. In most cases, each team worked on multiple areas and in many cases, some took on areas outside of their sphere of expertise. If a finance assistant wanted to sit in on the meetings team process, we welcomed that initiative and encouraged the curiosity. As a result, all of our staff contributed and is much more bought in to what they created than by simply reading or being told information during onboarding. And even better, each is now empowered to offer ideas, resources and insights to continually improve what we do and how we do it. The reaccreditation process then, regardless of firm size, has the potential to re-energize and empower your staff, especially if you let them have a “hand in creating.” 

2. Home Base for Your Team

One of the more prevalent topics when discussing struggles with AMC owners and staff seems to be managing competing priorities. In this multi-client, multi-team model, it’s only natural that this would be a challenge. It’s hard work to keep all the trains moving on schedule and without incident and often one great success with a client or team member can be followed by a seeming set-back with another. Without developed and expressed processes, staff may be re-creating the wheel over and over again in their silos. This negates two of the many benefits of the AMC model- efficiencies and shared expertise. Additionally, providing support to multiple associations with different missions, structures, and personalities can be exciting, but at times it can be disorienting to say the least. Going through the accreditation process and the end result of documenting what you do and how you do it actually provides a home base for your team. It’s the place they can turn to guide their work and lean into each other and the efficiencies created in the model. They become more grounded and self-assured in their work and know that there’s a place to turn to reference what is expected and what works. Most importantly, going through accreditation and establishing your processes ensures your team that there is a thoughtful and deliberate purpose to their work that has been developed, tested and adapted. 

3. Stop to Smell the Strategic Roses

Everything moves so fast. This is not just a statement on AMCs, but life in general. Our “to-do” lists are never-ending – whether rote or extraordinary, mundane or engaging – there just never seems to be enough time to reflect and plan. This is especially true at work, as the urgent often supplants the important. Our team going through the reaccreditation process forced all involved to stop, focus, research, reflect and then strategically consider just about everything as it relates to association management and running a business. In fact, through this process I found myself wishing that I would have done similar work in previous stand-alone association roles. It was fun to watch our team ask questions, share information and have their own “a-ha” moments around association management best practices and the ways we serve members. For some, the knowledge gained from the CAE came to life; for others, their own experiences played out and still for others, their instincts kicked in. But for all, the experience forced us to stop and build time into our days to strategically dive into our industry and our craft in ways we might not have without accreditation. The result of doing this on such a broad scale, actually helped to build the muscle for our team to slow down and be more deliberate in their day, as opposed to simply powering through a checklist. In the end, the success experienced by slowing down to smell the strategic roses keeps our employees more engaged, improves our firm’s services and allow us to move our client organizations’ missions forward more effectively. 

So, if you are new to the AMC world (or not) and are considering accreditation OR if you are already with an accredited firm but find yourself going through the motions and the accreditation feels like “extra” work, my hope is that this will serve as a motivation or reminder of the value of the process.

Mobile Training Programs: Optimizing Educational Content for Mobile Learning

By  of Omnipress

Why Consider Mobile Training and Learning Programs?

One of the top trends in training and education is the development of mobile training and learning programs to make learning more accessible. Mobile content is not only convenient for the learner, but it can also increase retention and productivity by delivering critical knowledge at the exact moment it’s needed. Also known as “just-in-time training,” organizations are recognizing the benefits of pairing in-depth learning with opportunities for real-time reinforcement and practical application. For this to truly be effective, however, content needs to be optimized so that it can be searched and delivered quickly on a mobile device.

The practical applications for just-in-time learning are considerable. For example, think of the technician who is on-site to install or repair a specialized piece of new equipment. Although they were formally trained on the process months ago, the ability to access reinforcement material will help increase accuracy and productivity.  Simply by scanning a QR code on the equipment, or clicking a link to a searchable resource library, that technician can pull up the exact documentation they need to complete the task quickly and accurately.  Within the office environment, just-in-time training resources empower employees to make decisions and handle difficult situations with greater confidence.

In a perfect world, this just-in-time content would be developed specifically for mobile training. Short instructional videos or easy-to-follow visual documents tend to be the most user-friendly in these situations. But developing all new content may not be practical for many organizations due to limited financial and personnel resources.  However, it is possible to use the content you already have for a mobile learning program if you take a few simple steps to ensure it can be delivered to the user quickly.

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Planning Security at Your Association Event

By Amanda B. Langtry, Event Manager, Strauss Event & Association Management, Edmonton, Alberta 
Security at association events has moved to the forefront of association event planning in recent years. Regardless of the size or scope of the event, it is the association’s responsibility to ensure that delegates are safe and secure in the various spaces that the event is taking place. This article takes an initial look at how and when event planners should incorporate security into an association event.

When is Security Required?
Often the need for security will be dictated by the host venue. Most hotels and conference centres will have a minimum level of security staffing required based on number of attendees and whether alcohol is being served. The same can be said for most offsite venues as well, especially if they are government owned or operated. The primary factors to consider when planning if security is required include:
  1. Venue requirements
  2. Number of attendees
  3. Alcohol consumption
  4. Cannabis consumption (this will have a major impact on the meeting and events industry once regulation is more clearly defined)
  5. Hours of events (i.e. social night ending late)
  6. Location of events (i.e. if transporting delegates to and from an offsite venue)
One other factor to consider surrounding security at an association event is the content of that specific event and the climate of the association at that time. If the association is involved in a polarizing project or decision that could result in public or member pushback, security should be considered. There could be specific sessions that could have this effect as well that could result in protests and attract unwanted attention.

An incident occurred at an international conference I was recently involved with. There was a session focused on homelessness and, at the time, a negative article on the association’s members was published in respect to their involvement in tackling the homelessness issue. As a safety procedure, we informed the hotel’s security team of the threat of protesters and engaged undercover security to pose as conference attendees. The threat did not actualize; however, we were prepared had things gone south. 

How to Plan for Security in Another City
I rarely plan association events in my home city, but instead have conferences that move across the country. Planning for security in other cities is no different than planning for other suppliers. 

It is crucial that you rely on the local hosts and other supplier partners to make recommendations. Work with the venue and/or the destination marketing organizations to better understand where security is required and where it is recommended. These partners can also suggest security companies that they have worked with in the past. For more information on how to best utilize DMOs, see my interview with three national partners: Association Event Planning Tips – An In Depth Interview with DMOs

What to Include in a Crisis Plan
For every association event that we manage, regardless of the size, we create a crisis plan. This is a detailed document that outlines key people and procedures in the case of an emergency. 

The following items are important to include in any crisis plan:
  1. Phone numbers for local emergency responders (fire, police, ambulance)
  2. Closest hospital, walk in clinic and pharmacy
  3. Location of all AEDs in the venue
  4. Crisis Management Plan – plan to be used in conjunction with the venue’s existing emergency procedures which outlines an onsite emergency operations centre and an offsite meeting point in case of evacuation
  5. Crisis Communications Team members and contact information – this would be the security personnel, venue staff and event staff that have been tasked with executing the Crisis Management Plan in case of emergency
  6. Emergency chain of command – identify who is the lead in case of emergency and how the emergency should be communicated to all parties involved. The lead should be the security personnel if they have been hired
How to Communicate Security Information to Delegates
There is a fine line to communicating security measures to delegates without inducing panic. The intention is to have delegates feel safe and taken care of without creating an unnecessary sense of panic. Include information on your association event’s mobile app or printed program about the location of emergency exits and other venue related specifics. The information can be communicated using a flashy graphic so that delegates do not miss the information and are more receptive.

The key in any emergency situation or security breach is planning and communication. It is important to have a detailed crisis plan established prior to an event and to have that plan shared with all parties involved as early as possible. Security should be engaged in the appropriate capacity and should be relied upon as a resource when putting any sort of crisis plan together. The hope is that the crisis plan never has to be executed, but having one established is the event manager’s duty of care.

About Amanda B. Langtry
With training in human resource management and international business, Amanda Langtry brings extensive expertise and leadership skills to her role as an Event Manager at Strauss Event & Association Management. She has served on the management team for a variety of major events, including:
  • The Canadian Athletic Therapists Association’s National Conference;
  • The Occupational and Environmental Medical Association of Canada’s Scientific Conference;
  • The Pedorthic Association of Canada’s Annual Symposium and;
  • The Rady JCC Ken Kronson Sports Dinner
Amanda has experience in managing international events, with a recent project that had 25 countries represented. She is a graduate of the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba with a double major in human resource management and international business.

Additional Resources You Can Offer Your Members (At No Extra Cost to You!)

By MemberClicks, Callie Walker 

Member resources directly equate to member value. The more resources you can provide, the more valuable a membership with your association or chamber of commerce will be.

That said, what if we told you there was a way to offer your members MORE resources at no extra cost to you?

Well good news...there IS! Read on for a few specific ideas to consider:

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Pennsylvania Legislation Threatens Private Certification, ASAE says

A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature is the latest in a series of state-level measures that threaten certifications offered by associations and other private organizations, according to ASAE and the Professional Certification Coalition.

Echoing concerns it has raised over the past year about similar legislation in other states, ASAE is seeking amended language in a bill introduced in the Pennsylvania House that it says poses a threat to private certifications, including those offered by associations.

In its current form, House Bill 811 could interfere with the right of many private credentialing organizations to adopt and enforce their own ethics codes and procedures, ASAE said. It added that, depending on the reading of the legislation, the measure may restrict use of the title “certified” in Pennsylvania to those holding government-issued credentials. This would deny state residents the right to use professional titles they have lawfully earned from private organizations and also raises potential constitutional questions, according to ASAE.

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Why Certifications Matter

Coincidentally, the pencil I grabbed to draft my outline for this article conveniently reads, “Create your future. Earn your CAE.” The fact that I grabbed a pencil for this clearly indicates a preference to old-school ways. Despite them, I remain eager to stay on top of industry trends and best practices. Maintaining my CAE is one way of accomplishing this goal. 

I am fortunate to work for an AMC that heavily supports its employees to pursue professional certifications. The comradery and pride among staff who are working towards the goal of a certification (CAE, CMP or another) is palatable. Cultivating this sense of togetherness is one reason to encourage your team members to pursue professional certifications. 

Pursuing a certification is an excellent opportunity to encourage mentorship within your AMC. The learning process that takes place prior to a certification exam is an experience that cannot be matched by taking a course. It is a great equalizer, allowing junior staff to have an opportunity to mentor veteran staff as well. And staff that have recently taken the exam are able to share their knowledge of the process and content. It is common knowledge that one of the best ways to learn material is to teach it. Individuals that may not work closely together within your AMC structure are brought together by working to achieve a common goal and those individuals become future sounding boards. 

Of course, having staff that are certified in their specialties will serve as a value-added or recruitment tool for new clients. The broad knowledge and deep understanding that is needed to obtain certification enhances your overall product and service offerings. Having a team that has pursued the highest level of knowledge in their position demonstrates a commitment to excellence, professionalism and continued learning. When considering different AMCs, a potential client can use professional certifications as a metric, especially if the client’s industry takes particular value in them, too. 

Supporting staff in their pursuit of professional development goals is a key factor in employee retention. Employees across generations have demonstrated interest in continuing to advance their education and it is especially important for Millennials and Gen X employees. Creating a professional development plan for your team members produces security, purpose, and provides them with a goal. Reminding your employees to be aware that the certification journey is just as important as the destination enables customization for these plans that can be accomplished on a timeline set by both the employee and AMC. Racing through the certification process will not afford the same outcome as taking time to deliberately select the appropriate programs to prepare someone for the exam. It’s critical to ensure the information is retained and used practically. Supporting certification is an investment at the beginning of the process, but the support for continuing education to maintain certifications must to continue to really enable the employee, team, and clients to benefit. 

I studied for the CAE as a brand new Executive Director and it was an excellent guide to the position. Not the designation itself, but the learning process. Of course, now having the CAE provides me a level of confidence in my knowledge and experience. I am grateful for the CAEs I have within our team that I can turn to for discussion on industry best practices when my client faces a challenge. So, as my pencil says, through earning and maintaining my CAE I am continually creating the future I desire within association management. Supporting your employees’ goals of earning a professional certification will similarly guide the future of your AMC.

10 Easy Ways to Promote Your Call for Papers

Are you looking for creative ways to attract the best speakers and content contributors to your event? If so, you’re not alone! Many struggle with this same challenge.

One sure fire way to improve the quality of speakers at your next conference is to create a larger pool of applicants. Take a look at this infographic by OmniPress to learn 10 easy ways to promote your call for papers.

AMCI Partners