Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Honk or Help: A Choice for Association Professionals

On the way to the grocery store this morning, the folks ahead of me didn’t move when the light turned green. While I was trying to figure out what was going on, the driver behind me started blasting his horn. I finally determined one of the cars upfront had stalled and I pulled into the next lane and continued on my way.

This situation reminded me of a story that Buck (Merle) McCann, the volunteer president of the American Soybean Association, told the board of directors many years ago.
Buck said he was driving his pickup in town and when the light turned green, the truck stalled. As he attempted to get it restarted, the light changed red. On the next red light, the guy behind him started blasting his horn. After this went on a few minutes, Buck got out of his truck and walked back to the car behind him. That’s when he said to the driver: “Buddy, if you come up and fix my truck, I’ll sit here and blow your horn.”

Good story and it applies to associations and other nonprofit organizations.

Have you experienced a board member (or staff member) who blows his/her horn when something doesn’t work right?

Have your created a culture in which volunteers and staff help when and where needed? Or, are they a bunch of “horn blowers” who would rather complain than step up to help?

At Easter brunch, Barb and I noticed that the entire staff (hostesses, waiters, bussers) were all “jumping in” to help clean tables, serve food and make our eating experience fast and enjoyable. Didn’t seem like anyone on staff was saying “that’s not my job.” Pretty refreshing to watch!

As an association professional, you can help establish a culture of honkers or helpers. It is up to you and your staff team to decide which you will be.

PS. If this topic interests you, you may want to read How to Complain Effectively
a Valeria Maltoni post Jeff Hurt shared on Twitter.

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