For those who attended, the 2014 Sertoma Convention provided great camaraderie, good food, some free drinks, and exceptional training. Add into that mix an extensive discussion of our priorities for the coming year with the Board, and it will take a few weeks to share what was missed. But it seems best to start where we ended the weekend, with comments and observations by our keynote speaker. Tom Hill provided us both a message and example of importance to Sertoma and its members. Continue reading
At the heart of what it means to be Sertoma is service. It is our service and philanthropy that define why we exist. We believe that people have the right, if not the obligation, to make their communities better through volunteer service. It is what we do. It is the same for every charity. How we do it may differ, what we work on may differ, but in the end, the service and philanthropy of all charities takes place at the community level. From that perspective, there is little difference between service clubs and community groups of other national charities.
The difference comes in the ability of those who share a mission to generate outcomes well beyond any individual community efforts. It is the multiplying factor we experience as we get more people involved our club’s activities, but to a much greater extent. It is why organizations that share a mission, have more recognition, more resources, and more people involved. Those volunteers have a real sense that their service and philanthropy in the community, means more, and does more. Continue reading
This will close out this series of blogs about the recent Board meeting. As with all Board meetings, there are always reports. Most related to the operations and finances of Sertoma, all which are in good shape. Nothing of much interest or excitement to share. The Board among other items, receives an update on the work being done by our subsidiary, Hearing Charities of America. Of the general reports, I thought this would be of the greatest interest to the members. Continue reading
Last week I shared the work coming out of the strategic discussion at the January Board meeting. This week I will cover our new business agenda, where issues brought to the Board by the Directors or members are managed. Our agenda item was club participation in Division activities. This covered a range of issues, beginning with a concern about payment of Divisions dues which led to the discussion of value.
It has been a little more than a week since the Board meeting. The Board went home with some homework to complete before the next Board meeting in April. Among the regular and some mundane business, the Board spent a fair amount of their time in strategic discussion. Unlike your typical business meeting, this time is set aside to allow a more open discussion of issues and concerns. This time several issues came up, but all shared a common perspective, relationships.
I don’t think I would be overstating to say that as a whole, the Board believes that we need to have much better support of and communication with our members and volunteers. It is nearly impossible to reverse history, so the question is, what will we do different moving forward? What needs done to make sure our new relationships get off to the right start, and to strengthen current relationships? The resulting discussion produced the following list of needs (work to do).
Communication with the members, and to facilitate communication across the membership
Outreach to new people and communities
Training and support
The list defines a good relationship management effort. Allowing that leadership development is part of training and support, we have only to address the remaining five needs to expand and strengthen Sertoma. So the question was asked, “What are we doing to assure we have these people to do this work?” The response was “in truth, nothing.”
So the decision was the Board’s work should start with defining the right people. That became the basis of the Board’s homework.
So the ground rules: The needs (work to do) are not roles. They might be, but for now the focus is on the work. Looking at the work, define the personality traits, skills and abilities that come together to do successful marketing, fundraising, planning, etc. Look at the work for each need and define the specialists best suited for that area of work.
I think our President Mr. Hazel, summed up the assignment as follows. Forget about our structure, our roles, our traditions. Like our founders, begin with a clean slate, base your input on our current technologies, economy, and society. Describe the people that can (and will) do the work to expand and strengthen Sertoma today.
So starting with the list above, the Board is working to define the specialists we need to do that work. That may be the easy part. Because then, how do we recruit, train, and support these specialists? What structure, roles, and technology do we need to see specialists are available when and where the work needs done?
Then we get to the interesting part, how does that compare to what and how we are trying to get the work done today?
Want to join in the fun? I would be happy to share your input on this effort with the Board. So how would you describe the “right people” to help with the work of Sertoma?
On a personal note, are you interested in a great leadership development experience? Then make plans to join us in Overland Park in April. Hope to see you there!
One of the issues we face is use of language. What an expression means to the Board and staff may not translate the same to a member. So this week I begin in our efforts to improve communication with some look at our language.
Let’s start with what it means when we talk about Sertoma. Sertoma is a national charity. Sertoma is not a reference to the headquarters operation or activities “above” the club level. Sertoma refers to the whole of our efforts. That whole is defined by what we believe. We believe volunteer service is core to a free and democratic society. We believe that the power of volunteer service is in creating groups of shared effort. We demonstrate those beliefs through our shared mission of hearing health, that includes outcomes at the national and community level. We also know there are also community focused missions, which too are part of Sertoma.
Sertoma is people defined by different levels and roles. Together these people assure the strength and future of Sertoma as club members, national volunteers and staff. Who are these national volunteers? These include FDRs, Governors, certified trainers, and the National Board. Though not national volunteers, the Club Liaison serves as a critical link between the club members and the national volunteers. But these are not the only people who define Sertoma. We would not exist without our donors, volunteers, and mission partners.
Like our own bodies, the vitality of Sertoma depends on the strength and health of each element working together. To support and value any single element more than the whole, in the end will result in the failure of all. So, as we look at our strategies and plans, the needs of people working in community and the national roles are of equal importance. We must also match our investment in our current people with an investment in developing new relationships. That is why we have specific plans for both. So when we speak of expansion that is about new relationships and new communities, and when we speak about strength that is about how to support our existing members and communities. Those combined define our growth strategy.
We need a shared language to define our work as Sertomans. Not every member will agree with all these definitions. That is to be expected. But it provides the starting point for that discussion. This is also not an inclusive list of shared language. I started with definitions of those things that should not change, what we believe, and what we are; people who have chosen to make service a priority in our lives. If we don’t agree on what truly defines us, there is little hope of addressing any of the issues that follow.
We had an interesting and productive Board meeting last weekend. In the next blog, I will begin to share those discussions. I look forward to your input as we seek to secure a long and prosperous future for Sertoma.
Have a great one!
For each Board Meeting I write a report. These reports have tended to focus on updates to operational and program activities since the last Board meeting. I was struggling with a report for January meeting, and I determined there were two problems with my usual report. First, the content is wrong. Operational issues should be covered in other reports. Second, this report should focus on the work the Board and I share in setting direction and priorities. And the issues that drive our decisions needs to be shared beyond the Board.
As that report will take longer to read than most will want, I will break my report to the Board into a series of blogs. The goal; to focus on one issue or concern I need to discuss with the Board, and at the same time share it with the members. I hope this will eliminate confusion or conflicting information about how and why decisions are made. It will not mean everyone will agree, but then we can have the discussion based on shared facts and understanding, the definition of positive communication.
This is important as communication continues to be our greatest challenge. We provide content in print, email, on websites, webinars and personal presentation. Still we are asked the same questions multiple times, well after the information has been shared. If the information is available what are the other possible problems?
Is the information being ignored? Are members reading the information and the content is not clearly understood? Are members getting conflicting information? Are wrong conclusion or confusion limiting response? It is likely all of these apply at some level and each needs to be addressed.
We can work on issues of understanding by making changes in content and presentation. In this blog and other communications, we will focus on one issue at a time in more depth. This reflects how the Board reviews information before making a decision. In addition to sharing current discussion topics, I will share more about issues already discussed that impacted current decisions.
Ignoring the message is a greater challenge to address. Ignoring information reflects a lack of value, or a disconnect in the relationship. I have experienced this in many ways. Members have made the comment, “I belong to this club, but not Sertoma.” Clubs have not been willing to share the nature or extent of sponsorships. What in the relationship would make the number and type of scholarships a club provides something not to share with Sertoma?
Whatever the cause, understanding and addressing these issue with current members is a priority. We do not want to replicate that in the new relationships we create.
So in the coming year, as I work with the Board and share the issues being discussed, I hope you will share your thoughts, and add your voice to discussion.
Wishing you all the best of the New Year
Steven Murphy Executive Director