In any business there are four key areas that are fundamental to its success. I've particularly observed these within membership organisations however the following could apply to any business:
Following the leader, the leader, the leader...
If the leadership of an organisation is tired or weak it really is a recipe for disaster. A clear mission statement tells others who you are and why you exist but that alone won't suffice. Organisations need to have a strategy with specific goals to support it. Without it they run the risk of bumbling along in Neverland not achieving anything and members and key stakeholders will lose interest. Once this happens it is hard to recover from it and you can end up on a downward spiral fast. If the culture of the organisation is sluggish and slow to react to hot topics in their industry they will be in danger of becoming irrelevant. And it won't be long before someone else comes along to fill the gap. Strong leadership is critical - whether it is one person or a committee, leaders should have their finger on the pulse, have the desire to drive an organisation forward and qualities that make others want to follow.
It's good to talk
In the case of membership organisations volunteers and staff often work remotely and with pressures on everyone's time poor communication can have repercussions both internally and externally. If the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing it can lead to frustration and confusion amongst the troops - who is leading on what, time wasted waiting for decisions to be made, duplication of efforts and going round in circles. It can ultimately result in nothing being achieved - nothing worse than being full of promises which raises expectations and then failing to deliver. Clear lines of communication and setting realistic goals have to be agreed.
You've got the power!
Organisations that are committee or volunteer based after a time need fresh new energy. However if the newbies are not engaged in your organisation in some way they will quickly lose interest and wonder why they bothered to sign up. They will begin to feel that they are no longer needed or their input or experience isn't valued. Find their passion, what they would enjoy doing and give them a job to do. Empower your teams, let them own it and be an ambassador. Offer support and guidance and a little bit of encouragement if needed. It can reap rewards and you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.
Show me the money
It's all well and good analysing individual projects for their profitability but someone needs to look at the bigger picture. It's not just a case of knowing the bank balance someone in the business needs to understand the numbers, its regular overheads and the bottom line, otherwise you could be haemorrhaging money and only realise when it's too late. Regular reporting will help you spot trends and recognise things that seem unusual.
At the end of the day whether you're a non-profit organisation or a commercial enterprise your members are your customers. If any of the above are lacking in your organisation it will be noticed internally and externally. Your staff and members will disengage, the organisation will lose credibility and competitors won't be far behind.
Blueberry Business Support Ltd provide secretariat services to membership organisations with over ten years experience in non-profit organisations. To find out more please get in touch.