Though the coronavirus pandemic is still within our midst and its deadly and disruptive effects are lingering and ever-evolving, organizations, including associations, have been adapting, gearing up and planning for the “next normal.”
This was the gist of the Australasian Society of Association Executives’ webinar I recently attended. Speaker Nina Mapson Bone, managing director of Beaumont People, a specialized recruitment business firm that believes in “placing people first.”
Among the trends that she mentioned in all sectors are the use of digital technology, flexibility in all aspects of work and workplaces, as well as hiring and on-boarding of new talents into organizations.
For instance, she cited that WFH (work from home) will be here to stay and office space innovation in terms of physical distancing setups and sanitation protocols will be a standard. A variation of WFH is to replace working hours as a measure of performance with WFO (work for outcomes).
As associations manage their financials–reducing costs and generating alternative revenues—the use of a flexible workforce, i.e., casual or contractual employees, will be an option. To generate additional revenue, an association, which on some days is on WFH, for example, may consider sharing its office space with another association or lease it as a mobile office for members on a daily rate.
So what should associations be doing at this time? Nina offered these steps, which I have re-adapted and tweaked into an acronym: “ASAP,” based on my own experience, and put them in the context of associations here in the country:
Acknowledge. As in life, accepting that there are difficult challenges to be faced and that there will be changes in how your association will work going forward is always a good first step. As I wrote in this column on May 22, 2020, 4 ‘Ps’: Pathways to a Turnaround, “as an association CEO, I have huge responsibilities—keeping the association afloat, ascertaining continuing payroll for the staff and planning for a turnaround–all happening at the same time.” Acknowledging that there is a problem helps one find solutions and move forward.
Study. Have a quick review of what worked in the past and what will not work in the “new normal,” with members, staff, and other stakeholders (board, volunteers, partners, donors, sponsors) in mind. Are our services to and engagement with members and stakeholders still relevant? Are the modes of delivery of these services still applicable? How will the organization be structured to align with the situation? Will our business model be sustainable? These are a few questions to ask and seek answers to.
Assess. Have a look at and consult with what other associations are doing. Explore reaching out to potential partners and collaborate with them to fulfil common interests and have economies of scale. Brainstorm, involve, and work with your team on how best to strategize and plan ahead.
Plan. My four “Ps” pathways to recovery are: pivot to digital, partner to “hit the ground running,” pump-prime staff for upskilling, and plan for a turnaround.
If you’re an association executive, these are the steps to be done ASAP!
The column contributor, Octavio “Bobby” Peralta, is concurrently the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific and the Founder & CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives. PCAAE is holding the Associations Summit 8 on November 25 and 26, 2020 with the theme, “Leading with Agility.” The two-day virtual event is supported by Adfiap, the Tourism Promotions Board, and the PICC. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on AS8.