Clubs and associations center much of their culture around their members. No matter what their mission may be, their members are the ones who make it possible. So what can the member-centric cultures of clubs and associations teach the business world?
At your company, your members are your employees! They are the people who show up and help accomplish company goals. You may be paying them to be there, but they are dedicating much of their time towards the company. Good associations with engaged members will not only take the time to get to know their members, but will put systems in place so that they’re never out of touch. In order to keep employees engaged, companies should follow suit. What are your employee demographics? What is the median age? Commute time? What are their hobbies and interests? Do they have kids? Knowing who your employees are is vital to engaging them in the right way.
For example, Beth Brooks, CAE and Executive Director at Texas College of Emergency Physicians shared her experience with member-centric culture in an interview with Associations Now:
“What’s so interesting to me is that my doctors love to learn, and they value knowing answers. That push to learn and excel is an important facet of their experience, and so we need to present them with opportunities to do just that.”
Brook finds that many TCEP members want to volunteer to perform face-to-face lobbying roles during the Texas legislative session. “[We] always put the doctor out front. They are the experts. They are the spokesperson.”
Instead of dictating from the top down, Beth learned about her members and considered their passions and strengths when acting.
Communication is a key element in member-centric cultures. Associations want feedback and ideas so they can improve their members’ experience. They accomplish this by making it easy for members to find the association’s communication lines. This could include online portals, comment boxes, Facebook groups, and any other forms of communication. If an employee at your company has a comment, concern, or suggestion, do they know where to go? More importantly, do they feel comfortable with that line of communication? This is another instance in which knowing your employees will help. For example, tech-averse people probably wouldn’t like an online portal. Keeping open communication lines means that employees feel heard, and the company can make smarter decisions.
Member-centric culture celebrates the very concept of being a member. Whether it’s a membership anniversary, or a specific accomplishment, a good association will always acknowledge and praise the achievement. Members who receive recognition for their efforts are more likely to stay engaged and be more active in their organization. Likewise, employees who are recognized for their contributions are more likely to be productive, loyal to the company, and have more positive interactions with customers and other coworkers. At Dion, we’ve helped many organizations celebrate their volunteers, donors, board members, and others for their various achievements. The idea of celebrating employee or member accomplishments in a meaningful way is a powerful concept that improves any organization from the inside out.
The difference between being a “member” and being a “number” is how much energy a company puts into connecting with their employees. By getting to know them, establishing easy communication avenues, and recognizing their achievements, companies are sure to boost their employee engagement.
By Aubrey Dion
Aubrey Dion is proud to be back working for the family business she grew up in. Over the years, she has performed a wide variety of jobs in both the office and factory, becoming a true "jack of all trades." Aubrey credits her quick learning ability to her strong theatre background, where memorization and attention to detail are vital. Working in the marketing department allows her to stay creative and work on exciting new projects for the company.
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