Many volunteer leaders have a skewed expectation from their staff, whether that staff is employee, independent contractor, or an association management company. Some leaders expect too much, expect us to be miracle workers or read peoples’ minds, but more often what I’ve seen over the last 35 years is that leaders expect too little. They don’t really understand the role of staff and what they should expect from that staff.

If you have a board of directors or committee chairs who are frustrated that they can’t get their work done or they don’t have the data needed to understand what’s going on in the organization, that’s a major red flag to know you need to sit down with staff or you need new staff, whoever they may be.

You should always expect to receive information about your organization when you request it, in a timely manner. You should expect staff to complete tasks in a timely way, not be emotional, not give excuses, and not make a committee or a board member or a member’s experience in your organization painful or frustrating or negative.

Your staff is the face of your organization. Any staff that you have should be gladly providing information quickly to members and leaders and offering solutions for problems that arise. If you find yourself wondering, how many members do we have? How much money is in the bank? Did that event make money? Did our newsletter have any advertisers? Those are all questions that mean that you need better staff. Even though it can seem daunting to start the process, there are many tools available through you, a lot through the American Society of Association Executives at no cost to help you seek new staff and develop an RFP for that process.

Professional association management transitioning from your current management, whether an employee, independent contractor or another management company, can make that transition painless and happen relatively quickly. So, don’t delay.