It’s freezing on the east coast of the US, but some members of your association may feel cool to your association all year round. Why? And how can you warm them up again?
It’s normal (frustratingly so, in fact) for members to become disengaged from time to time. This could happen for a multitude of reasons. Maybe your programming doesn’t apply to their lives or careers right now. Maybe the timing is wrong as far as scheduled meetings and events and just doesn’t jive with their date books. Maybe work or family life got really busy and they need to focus on one of those areas and the association has to wait. Any of those is an unfortunate coincidence, but not necessarily anything you did wrong or you can change. After all, if your timing and programming works for the majority of your members, you can’t please everyone 100% of the time.
But occasionally someone disconnects because they’re upset about something. As a leader or membership manager, the last thing you want to do is fuel those negative feelings or worse, allow them to spread to other, happy members. So before you stir the pot trying to bring them back into the fold, first examine why they may be upset in the first place.
Three of the big reasons behind group conflict come from changes, feeling muted, and personality clashes.
Changes in your association are normal and a part of growth and progress, but sometimes members get upset when things change in a way they’re not happy with, or maybe that member is just resistant to change in general. This is a classic problem that can be handled with communication. Find out specific reasons why that particular member isn’t happy with what’s going on in the association. That way you’ll be able to explain your end and hear suggestions. Speaking of communication…
Few things are as frustrating as being part of a group and feeling as if your voice isn’t heard. This is another problem that can be solved with talking. It requires a little extra work on your part to find out who needs the TLC. Then many times a good, honest conversation will help, at least temporarily. Follow up by seeing about getting them on a committee where they may have more impact on a smaller group, or perhaps focus on online interaction within your AMS.
Finally, personalities sometimes clash. It’s a bummer, but it’s a fact of life. The answer could either be encouraging closeness in areas of friction in order to smooth over misunderstandings, but sometimes it’s best to just let two clashing people work separately. Make sure your association has room for different types of people to emerge as leaders. A variety of committees and smaller interest groups can help here.
Another way to warm members up is to make interaction easy for them by putting it in front of them on their work or personal computers! Your AMS can do that. Want to learn more?