April 2, 2015

25 Hours a Day, 8 Days a Week

The small local home builders association (HBA) with a one person staff, with maybe another staffer or part timer, is a wonder to behold. Day in and day out they are the protectors of the local HBA. And let's face it; the local HBA is extremely important to the strength and well being of both the state HBA and the National Association of Home Builders. Yet these unheralded guardians of our association are not being as respected as they should be. Let me point out a "few" of the functions that make up the local executive officer's world which include, but are not limited to;
  • Take phone calls during the day to answer questions from members or industry professionals who are not members but want answers, regardless
  • Recruit members
  • Retain members 
  • Work to appease disgruntled members
  • Referee disagreements between members
  • Recruit volunteers for committees 
  • Sit in on committee meetings and keep focus
  • Takes on more work that the committee decides is needed for an event or initiative 
  • Makes sure that the event or initiative brings value to the association itself or for individual members
  • Taking up slack for a volunteer who volunteered in name only
  • Help to obtain sponsors for events
  •  Make phone calls to get members to attend events
  • Make phone calls to get board members to attend
  • Send out emails, more emails, to remind members of events
  • Help to make the budgeted profit dollars for events
  • Explain why budgeted profit  dollars were not met
  • Prepare the agenda for the board meetings
  • Make sure to keep the board meetings on track
  • Work to appease disgruntled board members 
  • Work with staff at the state HBA
  • Enter information into the WMS system for members to NAHB
  • And... probably much more
 I would suggest that, while members are the lifeblood of the HBA and the leaders are the brain trust, the local EO is the glue of the HBA's components. Presidents come in and before you know it they are past presidents. Volunteers come and go with only a small percentage being consistent in their involvement over a length of time. The local EO is always present and yet sometimes under appreciated for what they do. Yes, I know they are compensated but for the amount of time spent, in a role that is so important to our livelihoods in the building industry, not nearly enough. And yet... the EO is still here for us, the members.

What can we do to help the EO, which in turn helps us all? Let's start with our local board of directors and committee members;
  • Committee members; do not create extra work for your EO. A volunteer that takes control and does what they say they will do is a professional I would want to know. Remember, the event(s) that you are volunteering your time are to help your livelihood because net profits go directly to the health of an HBA. 
Now board members;
  • Don't be a seat warmer. Become actively engaged in the very association you swore an oath to on installation day. Take ownership in you local's success and work to help figure out why there have been "not so successes." Believe it or not (and I suggest you believe it), the EO needs each of you to help support the goals and ambitions of the HBA.
  • Help motivate volunteers for committee work and praise them for their efforts. This helps the EO keep volunteers, something that is deeply appreciated.
  • Take a small or large financial role in the local. Attend general membership meetings, take out a sponsorship, depending on your business' discretionary income availability. Pick up the phone or type out and send an email to members you know to help engage them in the HBA. Showing a commitment to the HBA is to lead by example and HBA successes will follow and grow.
  • Help to keep positivity flowing during the board meetings. Work to eradicate board members who are happiest when they are at their most miserable. Don't let the negative actions of a few tamper the overall board's enthusiasm or derail new thoughts and conversations. This is not a club, it's an association designed to help our businesses thrive.

Mr. or Ms. President;
  •  You are the key to an EO that needs to be, and feels, supported. You are THE leader of the HBA. Your role in keeping the unnessecary burdens placed on your EO to a minimum. There are only 24 hours in a day, not 25. There are only 7 days in a week, not 8. The 24/7 is ONLY if the EO has no outside life with a family or a  need for downtime to eat or sleep. In other words, time management for a local EO is predicated on volunteers that actual help.
If you want to lose a good EO burn them out. You want to retain a good EO, and inspire to perform great work, take this article as advice to both your board and association leaders.

 submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the recognition and spot on accounts of things that sometimes happen at a small local association. Not to take away from any of our member volunteers, they also have a job or a business and family to take care of and their dedication to the organization and its goals are instrumental in the success of the organization as well as the well being of the EO.

Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP said...

Dear Anonymous, I applaud you for recognizing those members who actually understand their roles and their commitment to our association.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post and something that really needs to be discussed. As a former HBA Executive Officer with extensive association leadership experience throughout construction industry, I was appalled at how the executive officers were treated by their board and exec committee. I walked into a financial mess that was a result of their previous failure to lead and support. In my entire career, I have never received so little support from the board, yet had to advise the President, daily, on what I was doing hourly and even in the evening. As I was once advised by the Treasurer, 'he's your boss.' Actually, no, he is not and when the board loses sight of their role to provide vision, direction and assurances that the association is abiding by its rules of governance, then you are truly lost as an association. If your goal is to have an overpriced secretary, friend of a board member, leading an association of little chiefs with one year reins of power, then you are right on track. If your goal is to do little to advance the residential construction industry in terms of workforce development, safety and legislation and to only put on cocktail parties and celebrity chef nights while you circle the drain of irrelevance, then, again, you are right on track! You can be great and you can be strong, but it takes strong and respected leadership at within your association and a larger vision beyond your personal power agenda when serving on the board in an executive capacity.

Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP said...

Dear 2nd Anonymous, it sounds like you had a very bad experience with a group of "leaders" who didn't understand the core mission of the HBA. I hope, with your passion and vision, that you find your way back as an EO, under much better conditions.

DEB K said...

Thank you Michael.. you "hit the nail on the head". Great article!

Michael Kurpiel said...

Deb K, Thank you. I received your email as well; deeply appreciated!!

brian a evans said...

Hey Micheal,
Thanks for the acknowledgement and kudos. I could add to the list of responsibilities - that's the crazy part. However, I will say I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm blessed with 3 1/2 other staffers to help our office deliver. Thanks again,

Michael Kurpiel said...

It's great when local EOs have staff and willing volunteers. I know quite a few EOs and, in fact, my wife is one!
She is solo staff, but her local has some excellent volunteers so she is lucky as well. One of the things I do is ask questions then listen. I would say my wife, you and a few others are working with top professionals. However when talking with others they are not so fortunate, but keep moving. It's for those EOs I wrote this article.

BIA of NEPA said...

This is a wonderful article with all points being direct and well stated.

You were my listening ear and you heard my cry for help! The EO is the clue that holds the HBA together. This will happen with support from both committee's and Board members. No matter how good he or she is at her job, it will get to the point where a burn out will be inevitable.

Thanks Mike!

Michael Kurpiel said...

Thank you. If you'd like to talk offline, drop me an email.