Monday, August 19, 2013

Top Talent Vital to Making Your Association Shine


The other day, my wife and I visited the Dillards Department Store in Estero (FL). 

I needed to replace a pair of shoes. Knew exactly what I wanted and knew that this Dillards had them. Like most men, I planned to go in, ask for the shoes, pay for them and leave.

Well, an impressive Dillards Men’s Shoe Associate by the name of Tina changed my plans and showed a highly unusual (in my experience) personal commitment to her work.

Reaching out her hand to shake ours, she said “Hi, I’m Tina. What are your names?” We answered with our names. “How can I help you today?”

She carried on a running conversation as she helped identify my needs repeating our names several times. When she filled my request for the specific pair I wanted, she said “Have you ever heard of this brand (mentioning it by name).” “No,” I said. “Oh,” she said, “you’ll like them … you should try them,” she responded.

As I walked out of Dillards with not one but two pairs of shoes, my wife and I were still talking about Tina and her unique style and clear enjoyment of her work.

Later that day, I read the following in John Spence’s Awesomely Simple:
  • “The future of your company (association) is directly tied to the quality of talent you can attract and keep.”

Well, I know that.

In fact, when I owned my AMC, I prided myself on my staff and my ability to find great people (talent as Spence calls staff) as well as to create a corporate culture that got the best out of my people.

But, I also know that I am overly loyal to staff and a procrastinator when it comes to making changes.

Spence shared an example of a colleague who -- during a presentation -- told corporate executives to “go back to your office, take a look around your company and find your lowest-performing employee. Then, realize that this is the person who sets the standard of acceptable performance for your entire organization.”

I faced that dilemma years ago. It helped me overcome my procrastination and fire one of my staffers. Afterword, I discovered that my staff – rather than being upset with me for firing someone – basically asked me what took me so long.

If you are an association CEO, have you looked around your office and determined who is setting your standards for performance?

And, are your seriously searching for top talent like Dillards’ Tina … staff who will make your association shine?

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