In this episode, we talk with two of Ewald Consulting’s account executives, Arzu Alimohd and Margaux Meyer about what diversity looks like in associations.
Associations serve people, so it is especially important that they dive into diversity practices. Take time to think about who you serve and how you could potentially be underserving some members.
Take small steps. Diversity, equity and inclusion are so important, but it can be overwhelming to start making change. Start by thinking about things such as your bylaws that could be unintentionally harming certain groups of people.
Be open. Take the time to listen to members about what you could be doing to be an even better organization.
This year, I had privilege of participating in the first cohort of Association’s North Diversity & Inclusion Leadership program. As I applied and checked off the requirements for the application just a year before, I did not expect how much it would impact my career, network and skills.
Each quarter, our cohort met for either a half day or full day for leadership training that revolved around a certain skill. This included communicating, presenting and writing, executive presence and conflict. With a cohort of six, each session pulled you out of your comfort zone — you had to participate throughout. This made the experience much more engaging compared to a classroom style lecture with a bigger group. The content and exercises were really valuable, including a DiSC behavioral profile assessment and presenting in front of your cohort with feedback on your skills. What really made the program valuable was the people. From the first day, our cohort became close and started engaging in the content and discussed how it pertained to challenges we have faced in our professional lives. Knowing our diverse group all have a diverse background and stories to tell, it became easy to open up and gain advice from our peers.
This program has not only given me insight on how to implement my leadership skills to the associations I work with, but it also taught me how to incorporate more diversity and inclusion initiatives within association strategic goals. There is not a standard for an association when it comes to diversity and inclusion and every association has a variety of policies and practices it implements. What is known from current research is organizations that are more diverse and inclusive are more profitable and valuable (https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/delivering-through-diversity).
According to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Foundation, diversity and inclusion within associations can benefit the organization financially, help generate ideas and give the organization authenticity and an advantage compared to other organizations (Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion in Membership Organizations, page 9). These benefits will only occur if the diversity and inclusion strategy is managed and effectively actionable. This can be achieved in a variety of ways — whether by a detailed plan, assignments to staff and volunteers, task forces, committees or a combination. The terms “diversity” and “inclusion” are very broad, so organizations must narrow their targeted outcomes – what are some communities that the organization would like to have participate or think would benefit? Does your board represent your member base? How can the association open its door to more communities or partner with other organizations for mutual benefit? Diversity and Inclusion has multiple layers within an organization — board and volunteers, staff, member base, workforce and more.
When associations talk about diversity and inclusion, there is usually an emphasis on diversity more than inclusion (Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion in Membership Organizations, page 15). It is beneficial to look at both diversity and inclusion when determining these goals and to not assume one means the other. They go hand in hand, but increasing a certain area does not mean all may feel included in the organization. It is no surprise that each field is different in its diversity – age, gender, location, etc. — so the organization must look at not only its members, but the field to determine what to focus on. A common way associations can expand their community is looking at schools or educational programs that train in the profession and partnering with them; this can be determining a student rate for membership or event attendance to expose the community to the organization, creating a student competition, or teaming up with schools to host events. It is also important to think about the organization’s target workforce and look to improve the field along with the organization. A common misconception is because the field is not diverse, the organization does not have to be diverse; but there are ways the association can help diversify its workforce.
It is important to understand that being a truly diverse and including association is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Each organization must look at its field and determine its priorities. Diversity and inclusion initiatives are also never “one and done.” It is critical to consistently analyze the programs and reevaluate if needed. There is a lot to unpack with the terms diversity and inclusion when it comes to organizations — but be sure to incorporate the values of the organization, define the needs of the community, and then put words into actions and priorities of the association. As D&I initiatives become a more frequent conversation in the association world, a forward-thinking organization looks toward embracing inclusivity and heterogeneity to truly thrive in the future.
Learning objectives are a best practice in training that, in their most basic form, are a statement of what learners should be able to accomplish by the end of a learning event. Additionally, they are a way for the presenter to clearly and transparently define the goals of the training. Creating no more than three to four specific learning objectives will allow the learner to self reflect throughout the learning event on his or her progress toward mastering the defined critical information.
In order to plan and implement an effective training program for professionals, it is important to understand and address the Principles of Adult Learning. Malcom Knowles’ research on the distinct characteristics of adult learners began in the 1950’s and is the basis for the majority of adult learning theories. Adult learners have unique characteristics, as identified by Knowles, including that they are goal-oriented look for relevancy in their learning. Stating clear learning objectives for a training helps the learner identify the goals and desired outcomes of the training.
When constructing a learning objective, there are two distinct parts: the action verb and the performance standard. The action verb provides clear measures of mastery of demonstrable learning outcomes. Some examples of strong action verbs include: define, contrast, write, explain and evaluate. The action verb also reflects the rigor of the learning objective. Bloom’s Taxonomy, created in 1956 to encourage higher-level thinking, is an effective tool for trainers to ensure that they are creating rigorous learning objectives.
The bottom level of the taxonomy, known as the “knowledge” domain, represents low-level learning and includes action verbs including recall, define, recognize and list. As you move up the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, the level of thinking required increases. Choosing action verbs in the different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy will help classify the cognitive level of learning to both the presenter and the learner.
The second part of creating a learning objective is determining the performance standard. A performance standard is the measure by which learners will demonstrate mastery. There are three types of learning objectives: cognitive, psychomotor and effective. Cognitive learning objectives aim to increase the participants’ general understanding of concepts and processes. Psychomotor learning objectives seek to determine whether a learner can accurately complete a task or demonstrate a skill. Finally, an effective objective is designed to influence attitudes and outlooks. Identifying the type of learning objective will assist the presenter in choosing the appropriate performance standard, instructional strategies and assessment tool, if applicable.
A poor example of a learning objective is, “Participants will be exposed to information about new laws passed in 2016 that impact public accountants.” The verb “exposed” does not indicate any measurable action for the learner to demonstrate mastery of the learning objective.
A good example of a learning objective is, “By the end of this training, learners will be able to identify the changes in the updated resuscitation guidelines.” The action verb of this objective is “identify” and the performance is pinpointing the changes in the updated resuscitation guidelines. The time frame noted at the beginning of the objective tells the learner when this learning goal should be met.
Learning objectives should be used in all effective learning events. Constructing a learning objective that has both an action verb and a performance standard will help learners identify the key information as well as the goals of the training. Encouraging trainers to promote their learning objectives will result in participants who are prepared to engage with the desired outcomes of the training.
Research has found that the brain’s ability to retain information decreases over time exponentially, often referred to as Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve. After just a couple days, retention of new information can drop to around 40%. Utilizing instructional best practices including increasing interactivity and ensuring the training is relevant will help combat the forgetting curve. Understanding how the human brain processes information and how people learn will assist with…
Boredom Inhibits Learning
Our brains are trained to pay attention to new and unusual inputs
Have you incorporated engagement strategies?
Is your instruction broken up into manageable chunks?
Collaboration – Get your audience involved; interactive experience is more memorable than passive
Have you “hooked” your audience with an engaging opening?
Short-Term Memories Are Temporary
Learning must be repeated and revisited to be moved into long-term memory
Add checks for understanding to gauge understanding
Make connections between concepts to repeat learning in multiple scenarios
Ensures learning is applicable
Ownership over the learning and output
Active role in learning
Need to see relevance in learning as it is no longer required
Visuals are Critical
80-90% of the information our brain processes comes in through our eyes
It takes about ¼ second for the brain to process and attach meaning to a symbol
The brain is capable of absorbing 36,000 images every minute
In contrast, it takes an average of 6 seconds to read 20-25 words.
One study found that a presentation that was delivered with visual aids was 43% more effective at getting people to take action than the same presentation was delivered without visuals.
Struggle is Good
Creating challenge in learning requires the learner to do the mental heavy lifting.
Mistakes can be the most valuable teacher
Learning Needs to be Immediately Relevant
What is the added value and results for me?
Humans process hundreds of thousands of sensory inputs daily. In order to trigger the brain that it is valuable and should be retained, the information should be relevant and applicable. This is why learning objectives should be utilized.
You keep hearing the phrase “content hub”, in articles and maybe even from your marketing communications team, but what is the hullabaloo about, isn’t it just a library? The answer is yes, and no. First things first. What exactly is a content hub?
According to Neil Patel, co-founder of Neil Patel Digital, “A content hub is a destination where website visitors can find branded, curated, social media, user generated, or any type of content related to a topic.”
Content Hubs are a great way to manage all your phenomenal content in a user-friendly manner. A well-designed content hub can neatly and aesthetically display your cumulative pieces in one location. They help you avoid the headache of multi-located content such as training videos only on YouTube, blogs on your WordPress site, and articles residing only in your journal or newsletter. Through content hubs, all these rich pieces that represent your brand become accessible in a single place!
How is this different from a website? A website contains all the information a user may need to know about your brand and organization, including specific calls to action. A content hub is a resource area of a website, a one-stop shop to finding articles and media regarding a specific topic or by topic area. It’s also more encompassing than a blog, because there are multiple authors and different media formats, including articles, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, and videos.
Ewald Consulting is also working on content hub strategies and launches with our nonprofit clients using different technology platforms. We will be expanding our content hubs across our clients to better share resources, thought-leader articles, blog posts, enews, webinars, video, discussion forums and more.
Now that we have a basic understanding of what a content hub is, let’s talk about the benefits of having one.
You work hard on the content that represents your brand. We have learned in past blog posts that carefully curated and tailored content communicates to your target audience that you are a thought leader in your industry. A content hub strengthens your brand, identity, and your authority in the field. By focusing on topics, your site becomes more relevant in search engines.
Building Connections and Engagement
It’s a community! When you have multiple authors and a multi-media hub it generates a following from audience members who prefer social posts, or podcasts, or people who like to comment on blog posts. A content hub can reach all of these audience members. Content Hubs promote engagement. Instead of an article living in a newsletter that’s read and forgotten, users can directly interact with the piece. A content hub is ideal for reading, commenting, sharing, tweeting, buying and so on.
By now you know that your website analytics are a treasure trove of information that can break down how people are coming to and interacting with your website. Content hubs can help you further understand your audience’s interest! By tracking the performance of different pieces on your hub, you can discover which topics interest your audience, what’s driving traffic to your site, and preferred content types, then use this information to further tailor your content to meet the demand!
Take it from us, content hubs done well are complicated and need to be mapped out carefully within the right technology platform, site architecture and taxonomy. Without a clear plan from the start, things can go awry quickly. So now that you know what content hubs are and how they can help you elevate your organization, here are some quick ways you can get started:
Define your goals: Be clear about how you want to utilize the hub and how you will measure the use of the platforms.
Define your audience: Examine your analytics and your target audience profiles. Create a hub that will fit the styles of communication preferred by your audience.
Assess your content and your access to new content: What content do you have now that should migrate to the platform and what can be left behind? Determine a schedule and responsibilities for the creation and posting of new content.
Create a strategy to organize your content: Make sure that you organize the content in a manner that is understandable, the best way to do this is usually done by topic and/or by the type of media.
Determine which platform suits your needs: Maybe it’s your current website, maybe it’s a sub-domain, whatever it is use the above evaluations to help you determine the best fit for you.
Design and Launch: Create your design layout and go for it!
Maintain it! Determine how you will continue to add new content on a weekly basis at a minimum to keep the site fresh and vibrant. Don’t forget to track your analytics to fine tune your content to your audience’s needs.
Content hubs can give your organization a strategic advantage with your customers and stakeholders and a new way to drive engagement, community and conversation.
This year’s American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Leadership Retreat focused on methods for engaging members deeper into the professional community. We discussed “the power of purpose” as a compelling way to communicate why a professional should join and engage in an association. Association membership and engagement promotions should have as their underpinning a strong “why” message related to the individual’s ability to contribute to the greater cause being championed by the profession. This connects the individual’s personal mission for having chosen this profession for him/herself to the mission of the organization and its ability to serve as a vehicle for personal/professional fulfillment. If your association has a strong cause-related mission, you should focus on the need for each professional to commit to “advance our profession’s impact on [insert important societal challenge that the profession aims to address].” Associations must go deeper than this as well. A cogent message needs to be accompanied with examples of how your association manifests this message throughout its activities and member benefits. For example, frame the annual conference as a forum to bring together the most influential, innovative, and successful minds in the profession to shape its future. Articulate how participating in part of an online learning series will empower an individual with a clear understanding of the issues impacting practices in the profession and tools to address them. Describe how participants in the online discussion group lead the conversation about topics shaping the next stage/future of the industry and accompany this with testimonials.
The “Staff/Volunteer Dyad”
A strong relationship between staff and association leaders is critical to the success of a member engagement plan. A key component to this relationship is clarity of roles. Associations should have written chairperson position descriptions that include delineation of what the chair/committee is responsible for and what s/he can count on staff to provide (staff will… volunteer will…). Staff need to entrust areas of industry subject matter expertise to the association leaders and association leaders must respect the specialized knowledge, expertise and talent of the staff. Having someone “from the profession” in a staff position comes with positives and negatives. It can be a faster, more dependable source for content and industry perspective but there must be an expectation that the individual has significant time dedicated to garnering feedback from industry leaders and is not the sole source for content ideas, insights and guidance.
A recommendation toward achieving more overt and intentional attention to member engagement on an ongoing basis was to change the “Nominating” committee to the “HR Committee” responsible for identifying resource needs and the recruitment, engagement and assessment of all unpaid human resources to address those needs. The HR Committee is complemented by a “Council of Future Practices” that reviews industry data through the lens of the association. The Council of Future Practices provides a report to the board of directors based on industry data and their individual/combined experience. This report serves as a forecasting guide to portend the impact that trends are expected to have on the profession and what the association should do to address this. Once the board determines the action the association should take and whether to resource with staff or volunteers, the HR Committee begins its work anew.
Measuring volunteer performance is the best way to optimize a volunteer-dependent system. That being said, ASAE leadership agreed that insufficient metrics exist for tracking volunteer performance/engagement. A model based on HR best practices would make sense — but none of the association leaders engaged in the discussion had a working model to share.
Rather than attempting to tackle the problem at once, it was recommended that associations start with a “Simple Assessment” solution:
Have chairperson rank each volunteer’s performance on a scale of 1-3
Have staff liaison rank each volunteer’s performance on a scale of 1-3
Average the two and give feedback to each volunteer (most in writing; conversation where necessary)
Six Drivers of a Quality Volunteer Experience:
Quality of staff coordinating their activity
Receptivity of staff to give their input consideration
Quality of orientation/introduction
Quality of the volunteer leadership
Ability to debate/discuss issues
Time and timing
Why are you choosing to engage further?
What gifts do you have to offer to the organization?
What do you want to gain through further engagement?
What don’t you want to do as you get more involved in the organization?
4 levels of volunteerism (example from ISACA):
Micro: one-time tasks
Short-term/limited: e.g. support for an event or publication
Annual commitment: serve on the XYZ Committee
Below is an example Volunteer Engagement Model that was shared from R.A.P.S. using the Higher Logic online community tool: