Making high-pressure decisions can be taxing on any association. You want to make sure every step you take is one that helps your organization grow and prosper, and all of that stems back to good decisions.
And when it comes to making decisions, it’s important that your association works towards goals with its members in mind. After all, members are the lifeblood of any association, so you want to keep them happy.
But what can you do to push your association’s team towards good decision-making? What even constitutes a successful decision-making process?
Let’s take a look at some of the ways your association can move forward with any major changes or decisions it makes. We’re going to share a few techniques that can help you solve problems as a team, all while keeping your membership at the forefront of your plans.
Change is necessary
Oftentimes, many decision-making struggles come from one common source: Change.
That’s right, change can be a source of fear for any organization looking to move forward with a new project or experience. It may feel foreign to take steps towards changing things about your association, but unfortunately, change is necessary.
Think about it- your members are looking for the latest in industry-information and resources. It’s why they reached out to your association in the first place.
However, without promoting change within your association, your benefits and offers can become outdated and stale, driving members away from renewing when the time comes. So, if you want to keep your members around for the long run, it’s necessary to decide on changes than can propel their professional growth forward.
Conversely, it’s also important to know what’s working for your association.
While change is a necessary process for associations, you should also stick to what your members enjoy about your association. If it isn’t broken, you shouldn’t go out of your way to fix it (in fact- it may upset members to see their favorite resources changed).
So, before making any drastic changes, be sure you know exactly what your members enjoy about your association, and what they’re looking to see more of in the future.
A survey can help figure this out. If you send out a membership satisfaction survey specifically focused on things you’re looking to change within your association, you can get honest opinions and feedback on how members feel and if that change is productive.
Research before deciding anything
Let’s say your association is inspired to make a high-level change. Chances are you want to dive right in and waste no time, right? But without the proper research, you could be diving into a mistake.
Conducting research and collecting data about your members can save you time in the overall decision making process. It can also mitigate the problems you run into when it comes to keeping your members satisfied. Think of research as your safety blanket when jumping into brand new changes.
So, what kind of research should your association be conducting before entering the decision-making process?
Market research is a great way to hone in on the information that matters. Market research allows you to plan, collect, and analyze data that helps your association make decisions. And in this case, researching your membership is the way to go.
There are a few different ways you can conduct market research. As we mentioned, surveying is one way to collect data.
However, you can use many different methods to conduct market research. From emails, to phone calls, and even sitting down in person with members in a one on one setting. All of these methods count as primary resource. You can also conduct what’s known as secondary resource- collecting data using pre existing records and documents.
You can then use this research to decide what changes need to be made based on the data that you’ve collected. This way, you take the guesswork and assumptions out of decision making.
For a high-level decision making process, typically these decisions hold heavy weight over the state of an association. And when it comes down to it, there’s power in numbers.
Making decisions based off of the ideas and opinions on one person is a counterproductive method that can lead your association in circles. Without the minds of others, decisions may be made poorly or not event at all. And by not including others in the decision making process, you could be shutting down ideas that could actually advance your association’s growth.
So, if you’re looking to collaborate and share ideas in order to make changes happen, here are some steps you can take in the right direction.
To start, be sure you build a team of people that you trust to put your association and membership’s best interests first. If you bring on people that put their own needs ahead of the needs of members, your decision-making could actually upset your membership. Be sure everyone is on the same page and ready to decide with members in mind.
You also want to give everyone an equal part in speaking their mind and helping decisions get made.
With collaborative meetings, allowing each member to share their ideas is essential. If you give specific people more of an influence than others, you could be missing out on valuable ideas and viewpoints from others. Therefore, giving everyone the floor to help make a decision can give you a well-rounded outlook on things.
Making clear decisions can be a challenging task, but with a team of trusted minds behind your association, you can go further in your decisions than ever before.
Listen to your gut
While collecting data and relying on numbers can help your association make decisions, you should never ignore your instincts to make things better for members.
When you sit down to make decisions for your association, you’re headed into these decisions thinking about your members’ best interests. And if decisions you make don’t sit right with you or make you uncomfortable, it’s a good idea to listen to your instincts.
For any association, it’s important to find a healthy balance between data-driven decisions and decisions based on intuition. While numbers provide associations with cold, hard statistics, gut feelings can help you figure out what feels best for members.
However, if you’re someone who likes to rely solely on data and is wary of instinct, there are things you can do to test the water.
One way to make sure you have a balance is to set rules on what metrics will go into consideration when decision making. If you set boundaries on what to focus on data-wise, it may give you room to explore your gut feelings on decisions.
You can also conduct post-decision analyses to figure out whether or not your intuition is leading your association in the right direction. If you’ve made changes based on gut feelings in the past, it might be smart to check in and see how those changes are performing with members.