TRY TRANSPARENCY YOURSELF.
Actions speak louder than words. You’ll stand on more solid ground when asking for transparency by being more transparent yourself. The inner workings of your association may seem mysterious to the average member, as well as to chapter leaders and staff. Talk to them to find out what isn’t clear about the way your organization works.
For starters, pull back the curtain on association governance. Board meetings are usually handled in a routine manner by those involved. But the majority of chapter staff and leaders probably have no idea what goes on during those meetings. They would feel more invested in national’s strategy if they knew what’s happening behind the scenes for their benefit.
MAKE IT PERSONAL.
Trust grows when people meet face to face, even if it’s through a screen. Give chapter staff and leaders the opportunity to put faces to the names of their national counterparts. Create a picture in their minds of national as a building of people, not of policies and procedures. The Association for Corporate Growth did a great job of this when former CEO, Gary LaBranche, took his position back in 2008. Listen to his story here.
A video update from the board chair or liaison about the upcoming board agenda will go a long way to demystifying the governance structure and creating a more personable relationship. After the meeting, tell chapters what happened and how those actions or decisions impact them. Does the board need any feedback or information from them for the next meeting?
When possible, get together with chapters in person.
- Take a chapter road trip.
- Invite chapter leaders to HQ or another location for a retreat to discuss goals and strategy, and to provide training.
- Set aside a day at a conference for this purpose and subsidize attendance if money’s an issue.
Whenever you introduce a new initiative or change, like asking chapters to share data, you have to first understand the resistance to change. Your ability to overcome that resistance will depend greatly on the type of relationship you have with chapters. To get their buy-in, you want a partnership built on trust, respect, and common purpose.