Sunday, October 26, 2014

Recruiting Members and Volunteers in a Changing Landscape

In response to the latest blog post by ASQ CEO Bill Troy, "Recruiting Members and Volunteers", I thought I'd offer my experiences in recruiting new members and volunteers to two member units of ASQ: the MN Section and the Statistics Division.

I actively served in the ASQ Statistics Division between 1991-2003 and the local MN Section between 2004-Present. For a little background, ASQ is a not-for profit global professional society of "people passionate about quality who use the tools, their ideas and expertise to make our world work better." ASQ is comprised of 28 Divisions, Forums and Interest Groups whom own the bodies of knowledge within ASQ, 248+ Sections that function as local communities of practice, plus several on-line "Communities" formed around specific topics of interest. All ASQ member units are member leader driven. Division and Section objectives are achieved through engaged, active member volunteers who contribute their time, energy, experience and expertise to better the Society and their chosen profession.

Regardless of the type of organization involved, recruitment of engaged employees and volunteers begins with a shared vision and purpose. Simon Sinek, noted motivational speaker and author of Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last reveals the concept of the Golden Circle and the critical importance of organizations to understand and effectively communicate their "Why", rather than What they do. Simon Sinek famously states that "People [loyal employees, partners and customers] do not buy what you do; People buy why you do it".

Effective strategic planning is a crucial element to driving organizational growth and success. One of the first things we did as member leaders of the ASQ Statistics Division and ASQ MN Section was to revisit our vision and mission as part of our strategic planning process. Is our vision compelling? Is our purpose inspiring? Is our mission articulate and differentiating? In the latest strategic planning session recently completed by the ASQ MN Section leaders we fine-tuned our vision based on feedback of our members, an environmental scan and a SWOT analysis. Leaders create and sustain the organizational culture. The MNASQ Section leaders understand the need - the urgency - to recruit more engaged volunteers to help the Section achieve its goals and objectives to grow and deliver increased member satisfaction.

MNASQ Vision
To be the community of choice providing professional development focused on creating & sustaining a culture of Quality that embraces innovation and enhances the total customer experience.

With a shiny new vision established, the Section leadership then identified several key strategies to recruit and retain members while also recruiting and placing member volunteers. We use the X-matrix and business execution process to align our metrics, tactics and annual objectives to our long-term strategies and vision, mission, culture ("True North"). Sample annual strategies include increased networking opportunities such as an unstructured "unconference", increased alliances with complementary professional societies to expand our portfolio of products & services while growing our base of potential members, increased use of technology to connect and collaborate with our Section members outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, implementation of our volunteer placement process, and a renewed focus on recruiting employees from within ASQ "Site" and "Enterprise" organizational member companies. Supporting the organizational member recruitment strategy, the MNASQ Section will soon launch its 3rd annual Executive Roundtable - a by invitation only, peer-to-peer networking session targeted to senior leaders of local businesses, healthcare providers, educational institutions, not-for-profits, retailers, financial sector and local gov't.

A new strategy we are embarking upon in 2015 is one we term "assumptive volunteerism". Because ASQ is by its very nature a member-driven professional society, the MNASQ Section Leadership will welcome every new member as an assumed (i.e. implied) volunteer. Every new member will be assigned to one of several committees or project teams with the option to select a different committee or project based on his/her interest, or to opt out all together. (We recognize that not every Section member has the time or the desire to actively participate; hence, our need to understand how that new member defines a satisfying customer experience). The key is not to passively ask individuals to volunteer for some nebulous, undefined activity, rather to assertively assign new members a meaningful role in the organization.

In the end, the success of strategy implementation is dependent on effective leadership. In closing I offer this link to Brian Lassiter's blog, Yours in Improvement. Brian is President of the Performance Excellence Network serving Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Brian's latest post offers 31 leadership quotes and 31 things leaders should STOP doing to improve their effectiveness.