Members Do What Is Measured, Incented, and Celebrated

copy-of-susan_headshot With gratitude to Bruce Temkin for The 6 Laws of Customer Experience: The Fundamental Truths that Define How Organizations Treat Customers , this fifth of six essays now looks at the importance of measuring, incenting and celebrating positive actions that lead to healthy Toastmasters clubs.

Soclub officers and/or Area Governors struggle to understand why  clubs don’t deliver better experiences to each other and to potential members. But it shouldn’t be such a big mystery. It’s all about how club officers deal with members and with each other.  Members tend to conform to the environment that they’re in. What are the key elements to the club environs? The metrics that are tracked, the activities that are rewarded, and the actions that are celebrated. These three items collectively drive how members behave and how they ultimately treat each other —- and potential members.

Here are some suggestions:

Don’t expect members to do the “right thing.” While members may want to treat each other and potential members well, you can’t just expect them to do it. Why not? Because club officers and, very often District officers  want club members to do a lot of things. But they often fail to link behaviors to  measurements, incentives, and celebrations . So without any explicit intervention on behalf of new members — or even longer-term member experience, the environment will push members to focus on just about anything except member experience.

Clearly define good behavior. To do that, define and describe the types of behavior that you want from members. Do you want  members to strive earnestly to meet the written requirements of the manual(s) they are working in? Or do you want them simply to get through exercises so they can contribute to Distinguished Club Plan goals? Measurements, incentives, and celebrations should be adjusted to reinforce those behaviors.

Watch out for mixed messages. You can only get consistent behaviors from members when all three levers (measurements, incentives, and celebrations) are working together. If you celebrate things that are different than what you measure, for instance, then members aren’t sure which signals to follow.

DON’T BLAME MEMBERS. FIX THE ENVIRONMENT.

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PEOPLE ARE INSTINCTIVELY SELF-CENTERED

copy-of-susan_headshot4 Today’s blog continues my earlier look at Toastmasters International—a 501(c)(3) volunteer-driven membership organization from the perspective of Bruce Temkins’ Six Laws of Customer Experience — The Fundamental Truths that Define How Organizations Treat Customers.  I start from the self-evident premise that Toastmasters International must sell memberships around the globe. Memberships sales occur one at a time when a volunteer recruits another and when a current member renews her or his dues. Membership sales occur twenty-plus-at-a-time when a volunteer gathers together enough prospective members to form a new club.

Temkin’s Six Laws are here and below:

1) Every interaction creates a personal reaction.
2) People are instinctively self-centered.
3) Customer familiarity breeds alignment.
4) Unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers.
5) Employees do what is measured, incented, and celebrated.
6) You can’t fake it.

PEOPLE ARE INSTINCTIVELY SELF-CENTERED

Temkin points out that everyone has their own frame of reference, which heavily influences what they do and how they do it.

In a Toastmasters marketing situation, prospective members, for instance, care intensely about their own needs and desires but they don’t generally know or care as much about how Toastmasters clubs are organized. Current members have their individual frames of reference that prospects do not.

Consequences of this law in the Toastmasters context include the following:

You know more about the program than your prospective members. You can’t eliminate your biases, but it helps to acknowledge them. Recognize that prospective members may not understand things like our multiple acronyms and service chart.  Simplify your language and cut the Toastmasters lingo!

Don’t sell memberships twice a year when “dues are due.” Instead, help current and prospective members buy them. What value do your current and prospective members believe will come with membership—new OR renewing?

Don’t let the Toastmasters service chart drive all experiences. Just because we have several layers of our organization from club to Board of Directors, that does not permit you to make prospective members jump through organizational hoops to participate as she or he wants to.

The bottom line is: Shift from self-centeredness to member centeredness — both potential and current. You will grow, and so will your membership.

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Answering to Myself

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Sometimes you just have to stand up, take a position and stay with it, regardless of the older (but not necessarily better-informed) voices speaking against your ideas.  A FrontRange GoldMine blog with 666 members may not necessarily be a comfortable place to argue with those who have been in the business  longer than I have. Especially when the group includes some superb, well-known industry experts and one self-admitted grump with a Grumpy avatar who speak as if they were in on the pre-beta tests of GoldMine Premium Edition.  A few of them are actually published authors. In a word, they can claim to be more technically authoritative than I am.  However, remaining silent is worse.  I have to answer to myself just before I drift off to sleep at night.

Until recently, my points about integrating social networking with GoldMine Premium Edition at the heavily  technically-oriented members of the FrontRange Community site have mostly been met with pushback.

Not that I did not expect that to happen. It’s just that very often the louder chorus of voices can easily drown out a soloist with the courage to speak up for change.

A fair estimate of the male to female ratio in the FrontRange GoldMine community site is about 10 men to every woman. And when a chorus entirely dominated by men spoke in doubt about the value of integrating social networking with GoldMine, it got rough and tumble. I pictured myself standing up and speaking directly and in person  as a group.  For some people, that might be a rather intimidating experience.

That was when my Toastmasters training kicked  in, making the FrontRange community experience  exhilirating, not daunting; exciting, not devastating.

I first joined Toastmasters in 1981. Since then, I have spoken to thousands at a time. I have spoken in front of strangers and in front of friends. I have spoken to hostile groups. Most recently, and in front of a virtual LinkedIn Toastmasters group of 5,773, I have been debating the value of a proposal being put to all of our voting members around the globe, including the Executive Director and those Board members present. Based on the Toastmasters International profile showing 53% of our members being female, I suspect I have been talking to more women than men. But again, it’s mostly men pushing back in public.  Why that seems to be so, I am not sure.

The experience in each group gets my heart pumping.  Sometimes I just have to speak my truth to power to answer to myself just before I drift off to sleep at night.  Then I’m glad to be a Toastmaster.

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