Sunday, May 12, 2013

Staffing the Association: Part 2 Do employees really love their associations more than AMC staff?

When I posted Staffing the Association: Employ Staff or Contract with AMC? on Friday I assumed it would get some response. 

I was hoping for a discussion about a topic important to the association community: How do we provide the staff resources to fulfill our missions?

Well, I was a bit surprised with Ginny’s comment:
  • “My take is that an AMC simply can't muster the ‘love’ and caring for the membership the way association staff can. We have an ongoing relationship with our members and they count on us to know and care about them.
  • “This is a wild, sweeping generalization, of course, since I'm sure this doesn't apply to every AMC. But to me, using an AMC is akin to Dell Computers outsourcing their tech support to India. Yes, those folks may have great technical knowledge, but when I can't get them to understand my questions because of language barriers and/or their own lack of interest in me as a customer, I get frustrated and decide never to buy another Dell again.”
Association employees “love and care” for their clients more than AMC staff? Seriously?!

That is such a false argument and way over the top.
As I mentioned in the original post, I was an association employee for 15 years and an AMC owner for 19 years. So, I think, I have the benefit of looking at both sides of the street.

Ginny’s comment leads me to some observations:
  • Association professionals – whether hired or AMC – demonstrate commitment to their association. You can find those “just doing the job” at all staffing levels whether hired or AMC.
  • Good association professionals create ongoing relationships with boards, volunteers and members.
  • Employees can be fired;  AMC contracts can be cancelled; AMCs can fire associations. 
Association employees wear two hats; AMC employees wear three:

All of us wear our association’s hat:
  • we seek to provide exceptional service to our association and its members
  • we seek to create relationships with our volunteers and members
  • we seek to truly understand the industry or profession of our members
  • we seek to implement programs and services on time and within budget
  • we seek to monitor trends impacting our professions or industries and share that information with our boards and volunteer leaders
All of us wear our personal hat:
  • we seek to create relationships in our personal and spiritual lives
  • we seek to offer quality time to our families and friends
  • we seek to earn a fair salary as well as an opportunity for advancement
An AMC employee has the additional “AMC hat”
  • we seek to create client relationships
  • we seek to grow our associations
  • we seek to provide exceptional service within budget parameters
  • we seek to be part of a successful business so we have continued opportunities
So, as we focus on what’s best for associations, let’s understand that the majority of us working for associations and nonprofits – whether employee or AMC staffer – are professionals who “love and care” about the organizations we represent.

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