Strengthen your organization by creating and nurturing a strong volunteer-staff partnership and mining the talents of both volunteers and staff.
YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD OF THEM, OR MAYBE you have belonged to one: membership organizations that have a "we and they" culture. Although the members ("we") and the staff ("they") may respect one another and work together, each group still undervalues the other's work.
Few would argue that the combined talents, knowledge, expertise, and skills of human resources--both volunteer and paid--are some of the greatest assets held by associations. Why, then, are volunteer-staff issues of often the source of conflict and frustration?
Historically, association cultures have been categorized cat·e·go·rize
tr.v. cat·e·go·rized, cat·e·go·riz·ing, cat·e·go·riz·es
To put into a category or categories; classify.
cat as either volunteer-or staff-driven, but rarely described as a partnership. That tells us something. The mere use of the word driven suggests the position or title of an individual is of more consequence than the knowledge and experience he or she brings to the table. Yet most associations fall into one category or the other and spend a lot of energy trying to either make that culture work or undo To restore the last editing operation that has taken place. For example, if a segment of text has been deleted or changed, performing an undo will restore the original text. Programs may have several levels of undo, including being able to reconstruct the original data for all edits it.
Complications of culture
In some associations, the operating culture is more a function of the style and personality of the chief elected officer than a conscious decision by the board to formally adopt certain values and philosophy. Each chief elected officer brings a different sense of priorities and issues, and the annual rotation of volunteer leaders creates additional challenges. It is not uncommon to have the current chair, the chair-elect, and the newly elected chair-elect-elect in office simultaneously-each of whom embodies a distinct style.
The lack of a strong, commonly held philosophical framework that transcends the comings and goings of volunteer leaders can breed uncertainty and frustration. The impact is perhaps greatest on the chief staff executive, whose success and tenure are directly related to the relationship he or she has with the chief elected officer and the board. In fact, association executives often point to the style and personality of the chief elected officer as factors contributing to their level of stress and sense of well-being, predictors of whether the year ahead will be a tough one.
The notion of building a partnership--an association culture constructed on trust, mutual respect, and shared responsibility and accountability--is a daunting daunt
tr.v. daunt·ed, daunt·ing, daunts
To abate the courage of; discourage. See Synonyms at dismay.
[Middle English daunten, from Old French danter, from Latin task. For everyone involved, there is an inherent fear of losing power and control by sharing responsibility. It takes an enormous commitment that goes far beyond traditional orientation, training, and recognition programs. Yet creating and nurturing a strong volunteer-staff partnership and mining the talent of both volunteers and staff will result in a stronger organization.
The Association of Women's Health Women's Health Definition
Women's health is the effect of gender on disease and health that encompasses a broad range of biological and psychosocial issues. , Obstetric ob·stet·ric or ob·stet·ri·cal
Of or relating to the profession of obstetrics or the care of women during and after pregnancy.
pertaining to or emanating from obstetrics. and Neonatal neonatal /neo·na·tal/ (ne?o-nat´'l) pertaining to the first four weeks after birth.
Of or relating to the first 28 days of an infant's life. Nurses (AWHONN AWHONN Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses ), Washington, D.C., is proof of that. Founded in 1969, the 22,000-member association has a strong record of accomplishment, yet, like other associations, is constantly evolving and redefining what it will become. At AWHONN we know that having a strong values orientation, as well as a philosophical framework for governing gov·ern
v. gov·erned, gov·ern·ing, gov·erns
1. To make and administer the public policy and affairs of; exercise sovereign authority in.
2. and operating the association, are at the heart of our future success.
Here are the steps we took to help volunteers and staff work in true partnership.
Building the framework
In 1998, AWHONN implemented a new organizational structure This article has no lead section.
To comply with Wikipedia's lead section guidelines, one should be written. to streamline governance Governance makes decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance. It consists either of a separate process or of a specific part of management or leadership processes. Sometimes people set up a government to administer these processes and systems. and decision making and to invest more resources in leadership, membership, and new program development. An important component of this new structure was changing the board from a constituency-based focus to a policy-based focus. Previously, AWHONN's board had 16 voting members, 11 of whom were district chairs-elected at the regional level-who also had regional administrative responsibilities administrative responsibility Any task or duty related to managing an institution; non-Pt management-related responsibilities of physicians include chart review, participation in the tumor board or tissue committee, etc. Cf Clinical responsibility. . Now, the full 11-member board is elected by all members. Many of the administrative duties that fell to district chairs in the past are now handled by a section/chapter services unit at our national headquarters. In addition, the executive director and six committee chairs attend board meetings but have no vote.
The result has been a board more focused on global strategic issues, a nominating process that attracts members with the leadership experience and skills we need to strategically position the association, and a commitment to developing current and future leaders Future Leaders is a UK schools-led charitable organisation that aims to widen the pool of talented leaders especially for urban challenging secondary schools. It was founded in March 2006 by Nat Wei, a former founder of Teach First. . For instance, we focus now on the skills required to lead the organization rather than whether someone has served at various levels within AWHONN.
To bridge the perceived gap between the former regional-based board and the new policy board, we created six positions for regional directors. Each resides within one of six geographically defined regions. These directors, however, have no administrative responsibilities. While they do not represent a group of members, they do provide geographic diversity on the board.
Developing a leadership vision
Although the restructuring restructuring - The transformation from one representation form to another at the same relative abstraction level, while preserving the subject system's external behaviour (functionality and semantics). took three years to complete, it was only the first step. Next, using the strategic-planning process, we engaged in conversations about our core values--the enduring principles that underpin the way in which we govern and operate. We also articulated six values using the acronym acronym: see abbreviation.
A word typically made up of the first letters of two or more words; for example, BASIC stands for "Beginners All purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. CARING, a wonderful description of the essence of nursing. (See sidebar (1) A Windows Vista desktop panel that holds mini applications (gadgets) such as a calendar, calculator, stock ticker and Vonage phone dialer. It is the Windows counterpart to the Dashboard in the Mac. See Windows Vista and gadget. , "AWHONN's Core Values.")
Our work on values prompted us to examine more closely the way in which AWHONN operated. We asked ourselves, "How well did our organizational culture This article or section is written like an .
Please help [ rewrite this article] from a neutral point of view.
Mark blatant advertising for , using . and our governing and operating style embrace these values?" Based on these discussions, we crafted an envisioned future statement, outcome-oriented goals, strategies, and focus areas. Then we developed an organizational strategy to better align align (līn),
v to move the teeth into their proper positions to conform to the line of occlusion. organizational resources with strategic goals.
Although we had never characterized char·ac·ter·ize
tr.v. character·ized, character·iz·ing, character·iz·es
1. To describe the qualities or peculiarities of: characterized the warden as ruthless.
2. AWHONN as being either staffor volunteer-driven, subtle indicators suggested that the latter was a better descriptor (1) A word or phrase that identifies a document in an indexed information retrieval system.
(2) A category name used to identify data.
(operating system) descriptor . Volunteers sometimes questioned staff recommendations in a way that discredited dis·cred·it
tr.v. dis·cred·it·ed, dis·cred·it·ing, dis·cred·its
1. To damage in reputation; disgrace.
2. To cause to be doubted or distrusted.
3. To refuse to believe.
n. the ideas. Staff occasionally believed volunteers undervalued Undervalued
A stock or other security that is trading below its true value.
The difficulty is knowing what the "true" value actually is. Analysts will usually recommend an undervalued stock with a strong buy rating. their work, which created office morale problems. Although the chief staff executive and chief elected officer worked well together, this partnership philosophy didn't always translate into other volunteer-staff relationships in the organization.
Learning to share responsibility
Working with a facilitator, we began moving away from the traditional board orientation: a standard briefing on association programs and finances, plus information on tools, resources, and reporting requirements. In its place, we created a senior leadership seminar focused on building commitments toward shared responsibility and accountability. Participation was broadened to include senior staff (directors and liaisons to volunteer committees) and committee chairs.
We directed our attention to a values orientation; characteristics of successful associations and boards; and the issues of roles, responsibilities, and mutual expectations. We differentiated between the work of a policy board and the operational responsibilities of staff, emphasizing their interdependence in·ter·de·pen·dent
Mutually dependent: "Today, the mission of one institution can be accomplished only by recognizing that it lives in an interdependent world with conflicts and overlapping interests" and the importance of a strong partnership. We underscored the interdependence of volunteers and staff and the synergy The enhanced result of two or more people, groups or organizations working together. In other words, one and one equals three! It comes from the Greek "synergia," which means joint work and cooperative action. that results from working together as a team to achieve success.
Some discussions centered on the commitments we needed to make to demonstrate the value of one another's contributions and to achieve AWHONN's mission. We also talked about the importance of valuing the knowledge, expertise, and skills each individual brings to the organization, regardless of whether he or she is a volunteer or paid staff.
Next, we developed a purpose statement for the board: "AWHONN's board of directors establishes the association's mission, purpose, values, and direction and ensures organizational accountability to AWHONN's members, donors, and the public."
Explanations of how this purpose would be accomplished accompanied the statement. "We will do this by
* engaging in thoughtful and visionary 1. visionary - One who hacks vision, in the sense of an Artificial Intelligence researcher working on the problem of getting computers to "see" things using TV cameras. (There isn't any problem in sending information from a TV camera to a computer. planning;
* establishing policy and providing clear direction and priorities to committees, staff, sections, and chapters;
* recognizing and blending the unique contributions and talents of each of our members;
* working in partnership with staff and members; and
* annually evaluating our individual and collective performance."
In constructing a philosophical framework for the ways in which we govern and do business, we emphasized three characteristics: commitment, trust, and consistency.
To build commitment, which requires understanding and blending diverse views and styles, we used a personal inventory tool to determine individual leadership styles. We then evaluated what the findings meant in terms of the team's interaction and decision making. Using this new awareness, we developed expectations for each other as a senior leadership team and a list of commitments:
* communicating openly, honestly, and directly with each other, sharing both positive and negative feedback;
* valuing the diversity of our styles and considering all ideas equally;
* working in partnership to achieve desired outcomes;
* facilitating an organizational climate The concept of organizational climate has been assessed by various authors, of which many of them published their own definition of organizational climate. Organizational climate, however, proves to be hard to define. that encourages and rewards achievement and contributions; and
* trusting each other and valuing the knowledge, expertise, and information on which decisions are made.
An important part of a healthy relationship is trust. We agreed on ways in which we, as a senior leadership team, would demonstrate trust:
* assuming good intentions and being supportive despite mistakes;
* valuing the expertise and work results of others regardless of position and resisting the temptation to redo To reverse an undo operation. See undo. committee work;
* maintaining confidentiality;
* promoting the team's objectives; and
* seeking feedback and critique.
Most important, to ensure consistency from one leader to the next, we developed expectations for the way in which the chief elected officer would lead the association. These included
* sharing a broader vision, identifying issues of strategic importance, and challenging us to think globally;
* keeping us focused on policy-level matters and ensuring that our meetings achieve their stated objectives by having an issues agenda and relevant preparatory pre·par·a·to·ry
1. Serving to make ready or prepare; introductory. See Synonyms at preliminary.
2. Relating to or engaged in study or training that serves as preparation for advanced education: materials;
* modeling the behavior expected of successful association leaders;
* clearly articulating realistic expectations that are mindful mind·ful
Attentive; heedful: always mindful of family responsibilities. See Synonyms at careful.
mind of time and resources; and
* providing direct, honest feedback.
The next level
The leadership model was then extended to include the work of committees and task forces. We developed guidelines guidelines,
n.pl a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks. that described a "partnership between members and staff built on confidence, and shared responsibility and accountability for carrying out the direction of the board and achieving the objectives of the association." Responsibilities of the committee chair-staff team include
* establishing a cooperative working relationship by understanding and respecting each other's roles, responsibilities, and expectations;
* orienting o·ri·ent
1. Orient The countries of Asia, especially of eastern Asia.
a. The luster characteristic of a pearl of high quality.
b. A pearl having exceptional luster.
3. committee members to the association's broad planning framework and specific charge and ensuring congruence con·gru·ence
a. Agreement, harmony, conformity, or correspondence.
b. An instance of this: "What an extraordinary congruence of genius and era" between the work of the committee and the association's goals;
* ensuring cross-functional collaboration with committees and task forces;
* discussing issues of concern about member participation, work performance, or other matters and committing to prompt, professional resolution; and
* evaluating progress along the way.
Tying it all together
The annual work plan for AWHONN's board, which describes the individual and collective outcomes to be achieved, was expanded to underscore The underscore character (_) is often used to make file, field and variable names more readable when blank spaces are not allowed. For example, NOVEL_1A.DOC, FIRST_NAME and Start_Routine.
(character) underscore - _, ASCII 95. the board's commitment to uphold up·hold
tr.v. up·held , up·hold·ing, up·holds
1. To hold aloft; raise: upheld the banner proudly.
2. To prevent from falling or sinking; support.
3. and champion the new purpose statement and the senior leadership team's mutual expectations. (See side bar, "Making the Commitment.")
Concurrently, we integrated AWHONN's six core values into recruitment, training and development, performance management, and recognition systems for staff. For instance, training and development focuses not only on technical skills but also incorporates interpersonal in·ter·per·son·al
1. Of or relating to the interactions between individuals: interpersonal skills.
2. style, conflict management, team building, and negotiating skills. Through tools such as "climate surveys," conducted periodically, we are continually working to create an organizational culture that encourages achievement, recognizes contributions, and demonstrates trust and respect.
What it takes
Building a board-staff partnership is a work in progress. It requires a strong commitment to ensuring that we do what we say we're going to do. Reflecting on what AWHONN has accomplished, several steps are critical to success.
1. Examine your own organizational culture. How well does it facilitate achievement of the mission? Do the board and staff work well together? If not, can you afford not to change?
2. Forge a strong partnership between the chief staff executive and the chief elected officer. The two leaders must first agree on what constitutes success and have a shared vision and ownership for performance outcomes. Then they need to set the tone, model the behavior and relationship expected of others, and demonstrate and promote the organization's core values.
For instance, AWHONN recently introduced a new product and quoted the executive director in the accompanying press release. Several board members questioned why the president wasn't quoted; the president reminded them that the board had approved a media communication plan that, for the sake of continuity, designates the executive director as the chief spokesperson.
3. Attend ASAE's Symposium symposium
In ancient Greece, an aristocratic banquet at which men met to discuss philosophical and political issues and recite poetry. It began as a warrior feast. Rooms were designed specifically for the proceedings. for Chief Elected Officers and Chief Executive Officers. Held annually, it is designed for the chief staff executive to attend with the current and incoming chief elected officers.
4. Recommend that a facilitator be hired to guide the strategic-planning process and the senior leadership team seminar. The facilitator should be knowledgeable about association structures and the importance of a values orientation.
5. Commit to developing volunteer and staff resources. Carry this message through the ranks of members and staff. Too often, efforts are directed at building the chief staff executive-chief elected officer partnership and go no further.
As an example, AWHONN created a new model for developing our three-year annual program and budget plan. In the past, the task force responsible for this function would have been chaired by the president and another board member. This time, recognizing that everyone's ownership was needed for the plan's success, we asked the health policy director on staff to co-chair the task force with the president.
6. Ensure the chief staff executive coaches staff to hire employees who understand the partnership philosophy and ascribe as·cribe
tr.v. as·cribed, as·crib·ing, as·cribes
1. To attribute to a specified cause, source, or origin: "Other people ascribe his exclusion from the canon to an unsubtle form of racism" to the association's core values. Those values should be integrated into performance management, staff recognition, and customer service plans.
7. As part of the nominating process, share the board's expectations with leadership candidates. Highlight the attributes of successful leaders, as well as the qualities and behaviors valued by the association.
8. Pair continuing and new board members for mentoring and support.
9. Foster a process for ongoing discussion and feedback. Ideally make the process one-on-one between the chief staff executive and the chief elected officer, each board member, and each committee chair. This helps prepare members for future leadership roles if they are interested and possess the right qualities.
10. Focus on measurable outcomes as the basis for determining success.
11. Make sure your association invests resources in ongoing training and development. Building commitment toward shared responsibility and accountability is not a one-time event. AWHONN holds senior leadership forums twice a year, as one-day events one-day event
a contraction of the three-day event but like that contest is aimed at selecting the best all-round horse and rider. The events usually contested are show-jumping, dressage and cross-country. added on to existing meetings.
12. Commit to ongoing evaluation and refinement.
13. Celebrate success--you've earned it.
Gail G. Kincaide, CAE (1) (Computer-Aided Engineering) Software that analyzes designs which have been created in the computer or that have been created elsewhere and entered into the computer. , is executive director of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, Washington, D.C.
Making the Commitment
AWHONN's board drafted a work plan that committed its members to these four goals.
1. Establish a clear, long-term objective for becoming a knowledge-based association.
* Incorporate assumptions about the future of the health care industry in setting the longterm direction, strategic priorities, program development, and decision making.
* Identify three to four global issues for discussion within the health care industry, profession of nursing, or health care of women and newborns to refine AWHONN's strategic position.
* Ensure the accuracy and relevance of envisioned future statements.
2. Approve an annual program and budget plan that reflects long-term direction, focus areas, and strategic priorities, and is well aligned with organizational resources and capacity.
3. Serve as organizational ambassadors by recruiting new members, mentoring new leaders, nominating candidates for excellence awards, and contributing to the member contributions program.
4. Establish measures of effectiveness Tools used to measure results achieved in the overall mission and execution of assigned tasks. Measures of effectiveness are a prerequisite to the performance of combat assessment. Also called MOEs. See also combat assessment; mission. for the board and evaluate results annually.