You can see for yourself your committee chairmen are having
difficulties - with their own members and among themselves.
Problems seem to be
multiplying. At some
you can cut the tension with a knife. It may just be they're new
to the job and don't know how to cope yet;
or it may be there are personality differences
that need to be addressed.
Whatever the reason, you feel some training would help. Often, companies or associations faced
with this situation simply
hire a professional to motivate staff and bring in some
new ideas or skills.
There's no question,
keynotes and seminars can
be very useful. Thousands of
association executives, managers, and companies can
attest to that. However, there
are several downsides to this approach.
Professional speakers or trainers cost
thousands of dollars. The "time cost" -- for
you, your managers, your chairs and staff to
attend these meetings -- is even higher.
What's more, the impact can be short-lived.
Is there an alternative? Yes.
Associations and companies could save a
lot of money and aggravations annually by
doing some of the training themselves.
Organizations that are on tight
budgest can still profit from the
training, yet avoid the need to
allocate scarce budget dollars.
Try the $20.00 solution -- buy
That's right. Go out and find a
good book on a company, life, or
management. If you're the manager -- read it. If you find it useful, then buy a copy for every
member of your staff.
Next, set up a weekly meeting,
roughly an hour long. If you're
worried about productivity, start
30 minutes before work begins, and end 30 minutes into the day (so both
staff and the company have an "investment"). Serve fresh croissants,
gourmet coffee, tea, and juice. Make the meeting informal and inviting.
Begin by sharing what you thought about the book and your vision for
these meetings. Ask staff to read a chapter each week. Then discuss the
book, in groups of eight or less, one chapter at a time.
If you're worried about using such a 'simple' solution, don't be. You
will get expert advice from your own group or staff -- because they know
best what the problem is. You do not need an outside expert to determine
There are many excellent books on the market but it must be a book
that speaks to you. Whatever you buy, if it's by a respected author/trainer, you are in fact consulting "an expert" to help you. You will also be
using them the way they were meant to be used.
However, learning a good idea is not enough. You must put it into
action to turn your organization around. And
that's the reason for holding your weekly "croissant circles."
Once staff have read the book and talked
about it in meetings, they'll start thinking of
ways to apply what they've learned. Don't
tell them what to do -- ask them. Ask what
excites them, and what they would do to
improve the organization. Then act on it. By
helping staff turn their ideas into positive
results, you will create a more confident and
If this process sounds like work -- you're right. But there are no quick
fixes for turning an organization around, or making it great. You must
show your staff you're committed to change. They will see that because
in these circles you are there. They'll also start to see the power they
have to shape their future.
Given opportunities to develop their own ideas and solutions -- guided
by some of the world's top trainer/authors -- your staff will learn that
leadership doesn't just come from above, it comes from within.