Associations strive to represent their members and provide them with optimal member value and excellent service. In the initial stages, many associations achieve this with the help of one or two staff members. As the organization matures, the demand for more complex expertise increases. This staffing model is not scalable for 2 reasons:
- There may not be enough revenue to hire staff to fill in the missing pieces.
- Often the additional skills needed are diverse and none of them are really full-time positions.
Perhaps you need a 1/4 of a CFO, 1/8 of an HR manager and 1/2 of an event manager. You can try to find that elusive candidate who has all of these skills and pay a salary consistent with the highest value set. Alternatively you can seek a more creative and affordable solution.
Hiring an Association Management Company (AMC) may be the answer:
- Your association can take advantage of notable expertise and support in multiple disciplines for significantly less than it would cost to hire that same scope of expertise and staff.
- Because AMCs manage multiple associations, you will benefit from a broader perspective, a wider professional network, best practices beyond your sector, and a comprehensive service delivery infrastructure.
To successfully bring your staffing pieces together, it is important to approach this relationship as you would any other employee hire.
Take inventory of your current staffing “assets” as they often bring specialized industry knowledge that you want to leverage. Assess how to best optimize their talents and based on your strategic objectives and staffing deficits, determine the additional services and expertise required to move the organization forward. It is important to be clear as to who will, and how to manage the staffing team(s). Perhaps you have a full time CEO to manage the team or maybe that is the expertise that you want to outsource.
Take time to ensure that your current staff does not feel vulnerable in the potential new staffing model and “buys into” the benefit of the new partnership and new opportunities. It is important for everyone involved to be clear on who is accountable for what and that the roles, responsibilities and individual tasks are clearly defined.
As with any hire, you want to ensure that it is a productive and positive experience for all parties. In addition to achieving specific work objectives, you want a partner that is the right fit for your association. Meet with the AMC team to ensure that everyone understands your strategic objectives; that their staff and infrastructure meets your operational needs and fits with your corporate culture; and everyone can work well with your existing team. Don’t forget to follow up on references.
It is vital that all team members are on the same page at all times – not only to ensure that tasks are completed in a timely fashion but to also enhance the team spirit and cooperative and supportive efforts. This is especially important when the team is not located under the same roof as is often the case in this situation. The ED should ensure that they hold regular team meetings – ideally face to face – with both the AMC and association staff.
Partnering with an AMC can enable your association to leverage in-house and external talents in an affordable and effective way. High performance organizations know their options and use them creatively to take their business to the next level.
For more information about HR, high performance organizations and where HR fits into the High Performance Membership Organization Model™, check out our VIMEO channel:
- Interview with Ed Barisa, CEO of Ontario Real Estate Association
- Introduction to the High Performance Membership Organization™