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Face Your Association Fears

by | Dec 11, 2012 | Industry News & Trends

One of my favorite movies is Defending Your Life, a quirky film about the after life and reviewing the fears that paralyzed you on earth. We spend a good amount of our time worrying about people liking us, what our board will say, where our numbers are…you know what I mean because you’re probably already worrying about them as you read this. And while a good amount of worry is necessary for the continuation of business (and the species), fear hampers innovation.

In a recent post on HBR, a survey from the Robert Half Group listed the top six reasons employees are afraid. The top reason, cited by a third of the responders, was fear of making a mistake. The sixth was fear of disagreements with co-workers. If we know innovation is crippled by these sorts of fear, how do you move your association away from them? The answer is easier than you may think.

It lies in the strength of your team and empowering them to make decisions in order to create the best member experience possible. It also means listening to their suggestions and seeing them as experts in what your members want. Fear cripples innovation. If you know the answer will always be “no,” you stop asking.

Recently, in one of the LinkedIn groups I participate in, a chamber of commerce exec talked about how his organization has created a financial account for innovation, thus making it an effective part of the budget. This not only lends it legitimacy but allows employees to feel like time spent on innovating is not wasted; it’s a business necessity.

Fear is part of being human but it limits your association’s ability to adapt. It also limits your employee’s professional development and (potentially) member engagement.  If social media has taught us one thing since its inception it should be that none of us have all of the answers. You have to try to find solutions that work for your audience. Cookie-cutter is not an engaging philosophy. A one size fits all approach to connecting ended last century. We’re challenged to do more for our members. Members should be the motivator, not fear.


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