Has the performance of your association been thoroughly evaluated? How do you know if it is time to begin the process of progressing your association into a high-performance association?
High-performance associations possess the following key characteristics:
- The vision and mission of the association are owned and shared by all stakeholders
- Strategy is performance-based and the steps to turn the vision and mission into action are clearly identified
- The goals are challenging and will impact the way work is completed
- Teamwork is effective and empowered
- Business practices are used to ensure efficient processes and are driven by a focus on member and employee satisfaction, financial accountability, and quality of services provided.
Beginning with the basics will help to move your association in the desired direction of high-performance. Start with three important fundamentals:
Does your association have a vision statement that defines a shared vision for the future? Evaluate if your association’s vision is based on the current anticipated needs of the stakeholder and summarizes the big picture and long-term direction of the association. The vision statement can impact the long-term success of the organization. It should be a simple sentence or short paragraph that defines the core ideas for the future of the association.
Conduct an external environmental analysis of your association’s current situation and trends and issues that will affect the future. Survey members to ensure that they agree that the vision of the association paints a picture of the future of the association. See https://strauss.ca/assessing-external-internal-environments-as-board-members/ for more information on environmental analysis.
Does your association have a values statement that sets the stage for establishing guidelines for appropriate actions by your staff and partners? Evaluate if your values relate to social or public responsibility and standards of service to your members. The statement should consist of deeply ingrained principles that guide all actions of the association. The values should be essential with strategically sound principals that will help guide and direct the association.
Ensure that staff understand the values of the association and are able to demonstrate them in their daily work activities.
Ideally, the mission statement should be created to support the vision and values, while also serving as a functional guide in the establishment of the association’s objectives. The mission should offer a concise explanation of the association’s purpose. The mission statement needs to be realistic and the governing body is responsible for ensuring that resources are assigned to meet the mission.
A mission statement should be developed with key stakeholders and communicated to all stakeholders. The mission statement should also be reviewed regularly and updated when required.
Revising and revamping the above three elements is the first step in strategic planning. While they are not easy tasks, they do not require financial resources for their development. Take the time to evaluate your vision, values and mission to ensure that they meet the needs and goals of your association. Share these with all stakeholders, and especially staff. Staff should be reminded of these statements on a regular basis to allow them to portray the vision, values, and mission to members on a daily basis. Having staff buy-in and understanding of the mission of the association will enable them to complete their daily responsibilities with a true understanding of their roles.
The next step is to create goals and critical success factors for the association. A GAP analysis should be performed to determine the current situation of the association and with a wish list for the future of the association. Identifying the gaps between these two, will help to identify the goals that should be set to move your association to that of a high-performance association. These goals should be strategic, long-term, and apply to the entire association. Critical success factors need to be considered and created to establish tools that ensure the association is meeting its expected performance.
Evaluating how current your association’s values, vision, mission and goals are will enable the association to implement changes that can affect the overall operation of the association. Staff will be empowered, board members will have a clearer understanding of their roles, and stakeholders will see an elevated level of performance of the association. Taking the time to review the fundamentals of the association is important and can be a catalyst for positive changes.