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Sector and AuSAE News

  • 05 Aug 2020 4:17 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    AuSAE recently concluded voting for elections to the AuSAE Board of Directors and we are delighted to introduce you to our new Board who were announced at the AuSAE Annual General Meeting on Thursday 30 July.

    There were four available positions for appointment, and we are delighted to welcome back continuing and re-elected Directors, Damian Mitsch, CEO, Australian Dental Association and Holly Morchat Stanko, General Manager, Association of Consultants & Engineers New Zealand. We are thrilled to also introduce and welcome to the AuSAE Board of Directors; Leigh Catley, General Manager Communications, Federated Farmers and Paula Rowntree, Head of Events & Experience, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

    We sat down with Paula this week and in a short interview discussed Paula’s previous experience and history with associations, her passion for the sector and what she is looking forward to as she starts her term with the AuSAE Board. Read the full interview below.

    An overview of current role and previous experience

    I am the Head of Events & Experience at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), and previous to this role I was the National Conference and Events Manager at the RACGP.

    I have worked in a variety of events and membership roles in associations including; Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Urban Development Institute of Australia Queensland, and the Law Society of Queensland. I also spent some time at NSW Trade and Investment in the role of Manager for International Missions and Events which gave me great insight and understanding of small business and challenges small businesses face.

    I currently sit on the Board of Directors of PCMA, a global association leading social and economic progress, professional and personal development and business growth and organisational success in the business events industry.

    How long have you been a member with AuSAE

    I have been a member with AuSAE since 2017. The RACGP currently holds an Organisational membership with AuSAE but I also maintain my Individual membership with the organisation. I choose to keep this membership as a personal statement that I believe in and support AuSAE at an individual level as well as contributing from my own organisation.  

    How long have you been involved with associations

    I have worked in associations and member-based organisations for more than 18 years.  

    Why associations, what has kept you in the sector

    I like being a part of an organisation where I feel we are trying to make a difference in the world. Associations touch every aspect of people’s lives and collectively contribute to communities globally. They work towards a common goal of creating better economic, operating, business and financial environments for members. By associations providing this support, members are able to operate successfully, remain financially viable and continue to contribute to the community. I am drawn to associations because I feel like I am contributing to the bigger picture.

    Three words you would use to describe an Association professional

    Community focused  

    What are you most looking forward to as you start your term on the AuSAE Board

    What I’m most looking forward to is being a voice for members and being someone who the members feel is truly representative of their voice.

    I am looking forward to being a part of the continual financial growth of AuSAE. I would like to be someone who contributes thoughts, ideas and innovations that allows AuSAE to be even more financially sustainable and is able to really focus on member value.

  • 05 Aug 2020 10:36 AM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    The COVID-19 crisis and the economic shift it has created has put a sharper focus on personal branding as a path for career opportunity. Associations should find ways to leverage this growing trend.

    The shaky nature of our economy at the moment has helped to change some of the calculus around what people will do to stand out.

    Facing furloughs, layoffs, or just general concerns that their job may no longer be on stable ground, many professionals are turning to new tactics to help maintain a presence or voice in the world, perhaps relying on social media to do so.

    This makes sense, and it appears to be part of the driving factor behind a recent trend toward platform customization. Last week, Medium announced a plan to allow its users to use new publishing tools that aim to make it easy to customize a visual design—a road that few social networks have gone down in recent years. As the company’s vice president of product design, Alexis Lloyd, put it:

    Our new beta includes tools that enable you to have more control over visual expression. We’re launching with a foundational set of controls around color, headers, type, and branding so that you can make a space on Medium that is uniquely yours. And this is just the beginning: we intend to evolve and build on these features over time, giving you even more flexibility to make Medium your own.

    To put this all another way, Medium is creating stronger design controls as a reflection that a good Medium platform can be a key element of a personal brand.


    This is a shift that has been a long time coming, to be honest. With the exception of the short-form blogging network Tumblr, few modern social networks have put such an emphasis on personal branding. It was something of a missing piece, actually. Sure, you could update your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter profile page to have its own header, but social media has often favored the organization over the individual in its rigid structure. (You could blame the social network MySpace for this, as it associated customization with a Lisa Frank-style explosion of colors and animated GIFs.)

    But we may start seeing a shift in the other direction, as concepts like the résumé, built for a physical world, become increasingly outdated, and talented professionals increasingly look to build not just a single sheet of paper that highlights their talents, but an entire brand.

    This trend has probably emerged earliest in the media world, where Substack and similar email platforms (along with the pioneers of this model, Patreon) have become more than just vanity exercises but ways to build a professional brand through personal work. In fact, Substack’s popularity has even created problems in newsrooms, as Digiday reports, as employed writers build out newsletters that compete with their own existing beats.

    Now, building a web portfolio has always been possible, but tools like Medium and Substack lower the barrier in ways that allow even those without technical knowledge to do so. And while much of this strategy relates to building a level of influence, which matters more in creative and management fields, it can also be a reflection of skill: In recent years, job sites have even adapted their approach to be less about making introductions and more about testing, to objectively show a person’s talent at a technical skill.

    And it makes sense that it’s happening now, really. A lot of work these days is done through the internet, and even if we see a vaccine tomorrow, odds are that a lot of people discovered a comfort level with remote work that will make digital connections like these more important—not just in the form of tweets but also by maintaining active platforms outside of work.

    Beyond giving them a creative outlet and a megaphone, it also is a passive way of applying for work without having to mail job applications out there first—if your name gets out there enough, the employers may come to you.


    This trend, which is still relatively early, is an opportunity for associations, in part because they facilitated many of these actions in a physical world. I remember early in my career as a journalist and graphic designer that I gained connections in my field not just by meeting people at annual meetings, but by bringing my portfolio along and showing examples of my work.

    Associations have always been at the center of the universe for many industries, and unlike prior generations where opportunities like that can come up only once in a while, the internet allows these interactions to happen daily. And it’s a role that is growing more in importance as we’re stuck in our homes but looking to maintain our careers.

    There are a few ways that I could see this working out for industry groups—maybe they decide to partner with a newsletter or a podcast, something the International Parking and Mobility Institute has done to great effect. Maybe they build their private communities in ways that are more directly promotional of members, allowing them to create something front-facing—think like Squarespace, but simpler—so as to help professionals stand out more.

    Associations have been good at building strong content offerings. Imagine what they could do if they put some of that energy toward building platforms that directly allowed members to raise their personal profiles.

    If an association can help build a member’s personal brand that gets them a job or helps build a business, odds are good they’ll become a member for life.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Ernie Smith. 

  • 05 Aug 2020 10:29 AM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    Like it or not, decision-making during a pandemic is complicated, and easy solutions might turn into long-term headaches. Here’s some advice for leaders looking to find a balance.

    Association leaders always face difficult decisions, but the ones they’re being asked to make now may be the toughest in a long time. They’re deciding how to make big changes quickly to salvage hard-hit revenue streams from meetings, sponsorships, and member dues. At the same time, they’re considering important operational questions, like whether and when to reopen offices or reduce their workforce through furloughs and layoffs.

    Experts in careful decision-making have a few guideposts for leaders to follow as they’re navigating difficult choices brought on by COVID-19.

    Agility needs to be balanced with caution. Many leaders are eager to respond on the fly to urgent needs, but acting too quickly can threaten long-term strategic efforts. Decision-making should take into account long-term goals, not just short-term initiatives, write Boris Groysberg and Sarah Abbott of Harvard Business School. “Strategic planning, converting strategic objectives into activities, is central to most organizations,” Groysberg and Abbott write. “Still, it is not possible to anticipate every event that might impact those plans. Executives need to be agile in order to adapt plans in response to unforeseen problems or opportunities. In doing so, they need to balance flexibility and speedy reaction times with long-term strategic focus. It is difficult to get this balance right!”

    Now is a bad time for shortcuts. According to leadership strategist Brett Whysel, many people are tending toward the path of least resistance right now, but shortcuts are a bad idea. “In the absence of reliable information, analysis, and leadership, we are left with our gut feelings and decision-making shortcuts,” Whysel wrote recently in Forbes. “Yet, in a novel pandemic, we lack the experience and expertise to form reliable and unbiased intuitions or know which shortcuts work.” He recommends following the advice of trusted sources and being gracious to others doing their best to make hard decisions.

    Clear decisions are critical in a pandemic that doesn’t follow common logic. As University of Pennsylvania law and psychology professor Tess Wilkinson-Ryan writes in The Atlantic, the complexity of the problem makes it difficult to resolve. Exploring the human impulse to “shame” other people’s bad decisions, she suggests that mistakes are inevitable when leaders don’t provide clear direction. “Individuals are being asked to decide for themselves what chances they should take, but a century of research on human cognition shows that people are bad at assessing risk in complex situations,” Wilkinson-Ryan writes. “During a disease outbreak, vague guidance and ambivalent behavioral norms will lead to thoroughly flawed thinking.”

    The lesson for leaders: Be clear and specific in your decisions and how you communicate them. In the absence of that, the problem gets worse. Consider people’s inconsistent response to social-distancing recommendations.

    “Most people congregating in tight spaces are telling themselves a story about why what they are doing is okay. Such stories flourish under confusing or ambivalent norms,” she writes. “People are not irrevocably chaotic decision makers; the level of clarity in human thinking depends on how hard a problem is. I know with certainty whether I’m staying home, but the confidence interval around ‘I am being careful’ is really wide. Concrete guidance makes challenges easier to resolve.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Ernie Smith. 

  • 04 Aug 2020 4:30 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    Thanks to COVID-19, associations want change agents in the corner office, but budgets are tight. The savvy new CEO, one expert says, will be creative and study contracts closely.

    Nonprofit lawyer Jeffrey S. Tenenbaum has noticed a change in his workload lately. For most of his career, Tenenbaum, managing partner of Tenenbaum Law Group, always spent more time working on association CEO employment contracts than on CEO termination agreements. These days, though, he’s been spending an equal amount of time on both. And though he doesn’t have hard data on whether more association CEOs are exiting due to the pandemic, he’s seeing associations looking for innovative, turnaround CEOs—and perhaps casting off leaders who don’t fit that definition.

    “There was a time when you could have a placeholder CEO, someone who’d kind of coast and keep the trains running on time, but who didn’t need to be a great innovator or great at strategic thinking, re-creating business models,” Tenenbaum says. “That’s not a luxury that any association has anymore. There’s a real need for strong, dynamic leadership, starting at the top.”

    That situation presents a challenge, though: While demand has increased for the kind of innovative CEO who can earn top dollar, the current economic situation means that association are hesitant about lavish compensation plans. That puts more pressure on the CEO job candidate to be aware of the hiring environment and get guidelines established in their employment contracts.

    Tenenbaum will speak more fully on CEO contracts at the ASAE Virtual Annual Meeting & Exposition on Tuesday, August 11. In advance of that session, he shared a few considerations for CEOs braving the job hunt.

    Know what you want going in. Ultimately, Tenenbaum says, association hiring committees have a limited amount of flexibility for compensation when it comes to pure dollars. But they can divvy up that figure in various ways—via perks, deferred compensation, and so on. Prospective CEOs should have a sense going in of what their goals are from the outset. If the job involves international travel, those business-class upgrades will matter a lot; if retirement is on your mind, deferred compensation may make more sense. “I say, ‘We can ask for whatever you want, but pick and choose what matters most to you. You’re not going to get it all.’”

    Plan for the end before you start. “I think one of the—if not the—most important part of the CEO employment contract is the prenup,” he says. Consider what the contract says about what benefits and compensation the CEO is due if his or her tenure ends: the amount of severance, the length of the severance period, and which benefits will remain in place during that period. One critical element of the contract is language about terminations for cause or without cause, which have distinct effects on what compensation the departing CEO receives.

    Know how much leverage you have. Innovators may be valuable, but not all innovators are created equal. Nor are all associations. “If you’re a first-time CEO, and it’s a smaller association, they don’t have a ton of money,” he says. “Are you going to have the leverage to negotiate really good severance provisions and really narrow cause provisions? Probably not.”

    Draw some bright lines between the CEO and board. Board members are more likely to micromanage a CEO’s day-to-day actions unless they’re explicitly barred from doing so. Language in the contract can give staff leaders the control they need. “One of the most important provisions in the employment contract, I think from both perspectives, is the provision that says the CEO shall have the sole authority for the hiring, firing, termination, compensation, and promotion of all other staff of the association,” he says. “When boards pick and choose winners and losers on the staff, it’s always a disaster.”

    Get clarity on performance reviews. Restricting reviews to once-a-year check-ins is bad for rank-and file staff, and it’s no different for CEOs, Tenenbaum says. He recommends having quarterly check-ins codified in the employment contracts. Moreover, he says these check-ins should be performed by the board members who engage with the CEO the most. “I think it benefits both sides to define the group that’s going to evaluate and set the compensation for the CEO [that way],” he says. “I don’t like this idea of having a separate compensation committee that has no real working relationship with the exec, and all of a sudden they’re brought in at the end of the year, especially to evaluate how he or she did. I just don’t like that process at all.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Mark Athitakis. 

  • 04 Aug 2020 4:23 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    A new guide from the Events Industry Council includes a code of conduct that outlines how attendees contribute to the health and safety of a meeting. A look at some examples included in the guide and beyond.

    When face-to-face meetings resume, it will not only be on event organizers and venue staff to provide a safe environment. An equal share of responsibility falls on attendees.

    That’s a key point made in the Events Industry Council’s newly released Meeting and Event Design Accepted Practices Guide.

    Developed by EIC’s APEX COVID-19 Business Recovery Task Force, the guide features a number of resources, including a code of conduct that is meant to help organizers engage all meeting participants in the health and safety of their events.

    “Community buy-in by all participants at the event level serves to advocate for the well-being of our fellow global citizens and our industry,” said Kinsley Meetings Chief Meeting Architect and APEX Commission Chair Allison Kinsley, CMM, CMP, CED, in a press release.

    The code of conduct breaks down what attendees can do to support the “collective well-being of an event” into three phases: before leaving home, onsite, and post-event.

    For example, the guide urges attendees to follow relevant guidance provided by the World Health Organization or their local health department before traveling. In addition, attendees should monitor the health of people they have been in close contact with. If a family member has recently had COVID-19 symptoms, the attendee should stay home.

    The onsite section of the code is the most comprehensive. Not only should attendees wear a mask and agree to have their temperature checked before entering the venue if required by organizers, they should also adhere to social distance protocols and respect the personal space of their fellow attendees.

    Then, once the event wraps up, attendees should contact event organizers if they test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of returning home.

    “We must, as individuals and organizations, take the responsibility to own the assessment and mitigation of risk, taking into account guidance from global, national, regional, and local public health officials. If we do so consistently, and communicate these steps effectively, we will make considerable strides,” said EIC CEO Amy Calvert in a press release.

    In addition to the details that EIC outlines in its code of conduct, the reality is that attendees and exhibitors will also have to acclimate themselves to other new meeting and tradeshow etiquette. Things that would have been common in the past—like hugs and handshakes—are likely no-gos for the immediate future.

    In a blog post published on Trade Show News Network earlier this month, Briquelle Neyens, a digital marketer at Skyline Exhibits, discussed how tradeshow booth staff need to prepare. Her advice is just as relevant to attendees.

    “Shaking hands will be a hard habit to break, but one route for your booth staff to go is to let booth guests guide this interaction,” she wrote. “If they don’t reach out for a handshake, leave it at that and know that both sides are in agreement and understanding of the situation. A tilt of the head could be a simple replacement.”

    Neyens also spoke about not overstepping boundaries and minding people’s space. “You may have seen markings at your checkout area in your local grocery stores to keep shoppers in each aisle at a respective distance during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she wrote. “This idea could be similarly used in your booth to ensure that it doesn’t feel overcrowded.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Samantha Whitehorne. 

  • 29 Jul 2020 4:28 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    Welcome back to our AuSAE Member Chat Series – Half an Hour of Power. This week we are delighted to have sat down with AuSAE member, Nick Pilavidis, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Institute of Credit Management. In a short 30 minute interview we discussed four key questions with Nick to reflect on the last four months and look forward to the future post this crisis.

    What do the next 6 months look like for your association and your members

    For our members the next 6 months will be more challenging than what we faced at the onset of this crisis. What started as a flood of customers seeking extensions of credit, will now turn to more in depth conversations to renegotiate credit and the high-risk factors involved during this time.

    As an association we will need to keep our finger on the pulse and ensure we are supporting members with new needs that may arise. We are monitoring the situation and keeping conversations open with members to fill any gaps in knowledge, information or resources that they will need during this time of transition.

    Areas of concern

    A key area of concern for our association is the inability to host face to face events and the impact on our connection with members while we can’t meet in our usual event setting. This level of interaction is our key tool to connect with members and provides that natural check point with the community, as well as the ability for our members to connect with each other. We have moved to providing online communication tools for our members such as forums, chat groups, social media and website updates, but I think there is still a need for that face to face interaction. The sooner we can get this back, the better for everyone.

    Like most associations, a concern for us is the risk surrounding our annual conference which is set to take place in Brisbane in October. We are about to launch our new look conference, aiming to mitigate this risk by moving to one day seminars in 5 cities and adding a virtual conference component in.

    Areas of opportunity

    This crisis has allowed us to re-focus, identify, adapt and communicate our value proposition to members. We have found new ways of connecting, delivering member services and lobbying for our sector. With the changes in the way we work, learn and operate we have been given the opportunity to showcase the broader value our association can provide members including connection with thought leaders and industry to guide them through this time.

    As the saying goes, never waste a good crisis, and although we are operating in challenging times this crisis has highlighted the value that credit management can bring to businesses. As an association our focus will be to harness this crisis, and ensure the credit management profession is properly recognised for what they do and the value they can provide.

    Celebrated moments in the last four months

    The speed and agility in decision making from our entire team is something to celebrate. It has been great to see the team step up and respond quickly to members and their needs over the last few months. We have moved our face to face training to virtual classrooms, and the team have really taken this in their stride. We are now able to offer our education more frequently with greater reach and access to the membership base.

    Overall, we have experienced a stronger team culture and collaborative approach while working from home. As an organisation we are committed to providing members with the tools and training they need to navigate the remainder of this year and that common goal has anchored the AICM team to a key outcome.

  • 29 Jul 2020 4:23 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    Although associations may be able to hold smaller, in-person events that follow social-distancing mandates, a lot of people may still not feel comfortable travelling or attending. To navigate this, more associations will implement a hybrid strategy for all of their meetings.

    With travel and gathering restrictions still in place in many locations around the world and not expected to ease anytime soon, large conferences and tradeshows are likely not in the cards for associations in the coming months.

    At the start of the pandemic, that meant associations had to pivot their events to completely virtual. But now associations are looking at the hybrid model as the way to offer attendees two options: a smaller, in-person event that adheres to social-distancing requirements or a virtual experience.

    The format is rapidly gaining popularity. According to a recent survey by Etc.venues, 73 percent of event professionals say they are planning to host a hybrid event before the end of the year.

    While implementing a hybrid meeting structure will raise additional logistics to work through, it also comes with benefits. For example, you may be able to attract new attendees to the online component, such as working parents, those with compromised immune systems, caregivers, and international participants. In addition, hybrid meetings could provide new ways to deliver content and allow you to extend the life of your event by giving attendees the ability to watch sessions on demand.

    More importantly, a hybrid format will allow those who may be uncomfortable travelling to take part remotely and connect with fellow industry professionals. This shows that your association is putting its members’ and attendees’ comfort first—something that could translate into better retention and loyalty.

    A few groups already have plans to host hybrid meetings in the months ahead. For example, November’s Event Tech Live conference will take a hybrid approach. ETL will expand its typical two-day tradeshow in London to include five virtual days of content as well.

    “There is no doubt that COVID-19 has accelerated our plans to go fully hybrid just as we have seen many events around the globe pivot to online-only to keep their community connected and provide value for their sponsors,” said ETL cofounder Adam Parry in a press release. “What’s most exciting to me is using this opportunity to push the boundaries, to once again experiment with the formula of an ‘exhibition.’”

    Other associations that have hybrid meetings planned include the American Fats and Oils Association, American Trail Running Association, and New England Water Works Association. Even the behemoth CES 2021—which is currently expected to have an in-person component in Las Vegas in January—says it will “continue to make the show’s content accessible for our digital audiences” and “provide a platform for our exhibitors to showcase their groundbreaking product launches and technology breakthroughs digitally, as well as physically in Las Vegas.”

    While these are only a few examples, I expect the list of associations taking a hybrid approach to grow. In fact, to use a cliché, I expect hybrid meetings to become “the new normal.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Samantha Whitehorne. 

  • 29 Jul 2020 4:16 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    Office friendships are an underappreciated part of your culture. Leaders don’t have to make everybody pals, but in a remote environment, it pays to encourage them.

    Every so often, I miss office hallways.

    It’s not that hallways are so charming in themselves. They’re just blank, anonymous, in-between spaces. But that’s what makes them so powerful. Because they have no strict role, they can be used to have the kinds of conversations that you can’t in more official parts of an office. It’s a common enough concept that film and TV writer Aaron Sorkin has practically built a career around hallway conversations. (If you’re a fan of spy fiction, swap in “bridge” for “hallway.”) The hallway is where pecking orders outside the org-chart get established. At a convention center, it’s where the networking gets done. And at the office, it’s where friendships are made.

    So the hallway is not a small thing—your organization’s culture comes from everybody’s sense of belonging, and that culture is often established through the informal channels that the hallway provides. In the Atlantic, reporter Nicole Mo recently wrote about the impact that the lack of those informal channels is having on offices in the wake of COVID-19. Work friendships are a boon to productivity and loyalty, research shows, and remote work has made those relationships a challenge. As organizational-behavior researcher Hilla Dotan tells Mo, “What we’re doing through virtual work is we’re neutralizing the social aspect of [work].”

    Workers can certainly maintain office friendships on their own time, of course. But the dynamic is inevitably different, Mo reports, and more prone to erode thanks to the additional stresses that everything the pandemic (and the daily news) delivers. Social psychologist Evelyn R. Carter tells Mo that in the new environment, it’d be wrong to think “there aren’t people who are hurting or who are thinking that they had those genuine, trusting relationships and are realizing they don’t.”

    “Help maintain employees’ social lives” isn’t in the association CEO’s job description. But one way or another, you have a role in them, and neglecting that fact has consequences. Last week the New York Times reported on the current crisis at Airbnb, which has found its social dynamic change radically due to layoffs and a shift to remote work. The company’s entire culture is built around conviviality—its business is built on strangers sharing their homes, after all—but the changes to the company has eroded the bonds that culture created, according to the report.

    Contractors who were publicly declared to be “teammates and friends” were summarily dismissed, and employees took to the company’s Slack—the closest thing to an office hallway for many organizations these days—to vent. That venting led to venting about other internal issues. That old culture of friendship wasn’t an official benefit, but it functioned like one. “Part of the compensation is being part of this family,” Wharton professor Ethan Mollick told the Times. “Now the family goes away, and the deal is sort of changed. It just becomes a job.”

    Leadership’s role in this situation is tricky. As much as I might miss the office hallway, I emphatically do not miss the kinds of forced-fun bonding exercises that have launched countless TV and movie satires. For many workers, a temporary end to holiday parties, Skee-Ball outings, and officially sanctioned happy hours can only be one of the scarce blessings of the COVID-19 era. The virtue of the office friendship is that it happens organically. So, create the opportunity for it to happen organically.

    Recently, organizational scholars Alana Cookman and Gayle Karen Young Whyte wrote in the Stanford Social Innovation Review about the need for organizations to cultivate what they call “microshifts”—small changes in how organizations are run to boost collaboration and improve morale. That can include, they write, “integrating well-being into strategic planning,” and one way to accomplish that is to establish spaces where a sense of belonging can occur. Transparency from the top is one way; another is “opportunities to really get to know colleagues through reflection and check-in exercises.”

    That can mean more opportunities for employees to share their challenges balancing work and home life, instead of pretending it’s not a challenge. It can mean being open enough about the organization’s own challenges that workers can share their own. Sharing those experiences that aren’t directly related to jobs but are inescapably related to work can foster the friendships that are part of your culture. If you can’t provide your people with a physical hallway, it’s worth the effort to encourage them to build one themselves.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Mark Athitakis. 

  • 29 Jul 2020 4:06 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    The idea of reskilling or upskilling was already an emerging trend even before COVID-19. Now it’s more important than ever—and associations can potentially stand out by leveraging their technology to provide next-gen learning opportunities.

    When all of this shakes out, our economy and world probably won’t look quite the same as they once did. That can feel like a dangerous position to be in. But with the right mindset, it can also be an opportunity.

    That mindset might involve a focus on reskilling or upskilling, the idea of teaching workers new skills to help them keep up with the innovations driving their industry. There is room for associations in this trend. Last week, for example, the National Governors Association and the American Association of Community Colleges announced a reskilling initiative involving a network of 20 states.

    “Governors across the country have been taking steps to prepare their residents for the jobs of the future, but the COVID-19 pandemic makes this effort much more urgent,” NGA Center Director Timothy Blute said in a news release.


    They’re not alone in encouraging such initiatives, and the heightened urgency in an unstable employment environment is leading to renewed interest in educational tools that were once seen as second banana, like the massive open online course, or MOOC. These tools struggled to reach a potential audience but are now seeing huge upticks in use.

    “Crises lead to accelerations, and this is [the] best chance ever for online learning,” Udacity cofounder Sebastian Thrun told The New York Times back in May. Thrun noted that the company was within a few months of running out of money just two years ago, leading to deep cuts in its staff. Now the opposite is true.

    Large companies are taking advantage of the reskilling need as well, according to CIO, which reports that corporate giants like Shell are leaning heavily on offerings from services such as Udacity and Coursera to teach their workers increasingly important skills.

    “The lifetime of digital skills is getting shorter and shorter,” Daniel Jeavons, who heads up Shell’s data science program, told CIO. “By adopting new skilling approaches we can support our workforce needs, while evolving to embrace new opportunities ahead.”

    Not even counting the number of people who have been put out of work due to the COVID-19 crisis, the need for updated skills is widespread. KPMG recently reported, for example, that 84 percent of the tech companies that responded to its survey are teaching workers new types of skills. The problem is a lack of clarity about who, exactly, should get training.

    “Once there is a solid understanding of current workforce capabilities, leaders need to decide who to upskill,” according to the report, The New Employee Deal in the Technology Industry. “Since in-demand hard skills are constantly changing, organizations need to be strategic about who they choose to upskill. Formal learning programs, mentoring, and even online training are expensive and time consuming, so targeting the right individuals will be important.”


    Upskilling isn’t cheap, and many organizations don’t have a Fortune 500 budget to invest. But associations can likely help their industries reskill through virtual events and ongoing online educational offerings that meet the needs their members have identified. This, of course, could mean significant business opportunities for your association.

    Long before we knew the seismic shifts we would be facing, reskilling was expected to be a major trend in human resources departments this year. Research has focused on retraining as a long-term solution for specific segments of the workforce, including women. And as far back as 2018, the Association for Talent Development was sounding the alarm on a lack of training.

    In almost every area, the coronavirus makes the day-to-day move slower and the big picture move a heckuva lot faster. This is one area where your association could benefit both its staff and its members by keeping up.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Ernie Smith. 

  • 29 Jul 2020 3:59 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    A strong voice can empower your members and help you manage difficult messaging moments. Now might be the perfect time to build one from scratch.

    By Eric Goodstadt

    A couple of decades ago, a brand could continue to live on for months with just one clever slogan on TV or in a print ad.

    But in the modern era, your organizational voice is a living thing. It has a pulse, which needs to run through your entire association—and keep up with the rest of the world, in real time. And, thanks to social media, it’s instantly within reach of your members 24/7.

    The problem is that voice-building doesn’t always get the attention it deserves because there’s always something bigger out front—always some fire to deal with that’s more important.

    The uniqueness of the current moment, however, could be an opportunity to fine-tune your organization’s voice. Many organizations, associations included, are struggling to respond to the pandemic and the broader cultural movement around Black Lives Matter. And during this once-in-a-lifetime period of restricted budgets and disrupted schedules, the essence of your brand—your voice—suddenly matters a lot more than ever to your membership and to the public.


    Using the voice of one of your rock-star marketers might seem like an expedient solution for creating a distinct voice for your association. Just one problem, though: The second that rock star exits stage right (i.e., decides to find another job), you’re suddenly missing a voice. It’s simply not sustainable. Whereas building a good voice from the bottom up, while it may take time, is more than just a way to sound clever. It’s a reliable barometer for brand safety, a funnel for content ideas, and a point of view that you can totally own, which spreads across different topics with ease.

    And by building from the bottom up, you can account for tonal changes—something you can’t do by just winging it. There are times when a fun tone just won’t work, and your organization’s voice needs to account for that.

    If, for example, your organization struggled to find the right tone during the recent Black Lives Matter protests, an inflexible brand voice might be the reason. (To be fair, a lot of organizations were similarly challenged, as a recent Morning Consult survey shows.) The result is a moment when your voice wavers a little, unsure of what to say next.

    With the right framework—say, an effective social governance policy that helps guide your responses on Twitter and Facebook—you can deal with these moments effectively.

    Best part? This kind of framework can help improve your messaging everywhere.

    One great example of an organization that has developed an authentic voice is the email marketing service MailChimp. Its in-depth content style guide covers things both broad for “voice and tone” (it says it has a plain-spoken voice, with a dry sense of humor and a goal “to demystify B2B-speak”) and incredibly specific (it has four different styles for its technical guides, and they vary by target audience).

    And it’s flexible, too. As MailChimp puts it: “Our voice doesn’t change much from day to day, but our tone changes all the time.”

    This flexibility allows MailChimp to do things that few brands of its nature can. For example, the company has significant original content offerings that include podcasts, original series, and acquired content. The one thing that’s pulling it all together? That authentic voice.

    The result is that MailChimp is in control of its defining characteristics. And because the company put in the work upfront, everyone in the office can contribute, not just a star player.


    The problem for many organizations, including associations, is that they don’t put in this work. It takes time to get it right, and it requires a process to understand how to distill a mission statement into a voice that empowers an entire staff.

    But it’s worth the time—especially now, when the primary way that your members interact with you may be with likes on your social channels rather than a handshake at your annual meeting. If your team can hone the elements of your brand values into the right formula, you might find that your messages resonate better.

    The right voice should feel like something every member of your organization might actually say—it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t deserve a shortcut.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Eric Goodstadt. 

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