Running a membership organization can be extremely rewarding, but it can come with plenty of struggles as well. At worst, a poorly run or disorganized association can ignite discord in the workplace. A well run and cohesive association, however, can be powerful, and capable of acting with far more strength than the sum of its parts.
So, what are some ways that associations can keep their members on the same page? You want to make absolutely sure that no one in your workplace is left out. If your goal is to build cohesiveness in your association, the following tips can help.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Word Choice
Debate teams, sports coaches, and political advisors agree: Using language that emphasizes unity can foster a sense of togetherness. Be sure to use inclusive words like “We” and “Our” when speaking or writing about actions and achievements within the Association. Be cautious about using those same words in an exclusionary. “We” and “Our” can also draw lines between the Association and its members, fostering an atmosphere of “us vs. them”. Make sure that your language emphasizes unity in success and takes individual responsibility when appropriate after a setback as well. The “We” should relish in the association’s successes, and the “I” should be willing to fall on the sword.
Realize That Conflict Isn’t Necessarily Bad
Disagreements amongst members and disagreements between members and the association are unavoidable. Too often, disagreement and conflict are regarded as things to be avoided, and attempts are made to suppress dissent. While conflict can sometimes have negative outcomes, it isn’t negative in and of itself and is actually a constructive opportunity when dealt with in an open and healthy way. Remember that healthy families don’t always agree, and good teammates don’t always get along. When lines of communication are open, reasonable discussion and debate can lead to new solutions and ideas that would not have been thought of otherwise. While not all disagreements will have a positive outcome, choosing to view conflict as an opportunity rather than a problem leaves the door open to cohesiveness, innovation, and growth.
Focus on Accountability and Transparency
As we discussed earlier, for your Association and its members to truly be part of the same team, all parties must win and lose together. While language and word choice is key when it comes to cohesiveness, actions that emphasize trust and openness are even more important. Being transparent about progress on initiatives, financial details, and goals for the future is a key for fostering a culture of accountability and transparency. Transparency will help everyone feel like they are part of a shared success, and will make members less likely to isolate blame in the case of a setback. Accountability and transparency are a two-way street as well. Be sure to hold members accountable for their actions and progress as well.
While there isn’t a single list that can encapsulate how to perfectly run an association, these three tips can certainly help. Using inclusive language to celebrate collective success, valuing healthy conflict, and fostering a culture of transparency and accountability will go a long way towards keeping your organization running smoothly as a singular unit.