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13 Unlucky Association Habits (And How to Break Them)

Don’t let your bad habits turn into permanent ones. With our helpful tips, plus the helpful tips of other association professionals, you can be sure to turn your luck from bad into good.

Holiday Shaped Cookies on White and Grey Textiles

It’s Friday the 13th! A holiday that comes just a few times every year, and brings with it all the fun of myths and superstitions. So, what do we know about this holiday? For starters, it’s best to stay away from any black cats, broken mirrors, and ladders.

It’s also a day that tends to have the reputation of bringing bad luck. Whether you consider yourself superstitious or not, we can all agree that bad luck is just… well, unlucky to have! However, bad luck doesn’t just fall on Friday the 13th. Unfortunately, unlucky habits can follow us all, even in professional settings.

In the spirit of the holiday, let’s take a look at 13 unlucky habits that any association professional can fall victim too. Don’t worry, we’ll also offer some advice on how to break out of that unlucky streak! Let’s get started (before anything bad happens…)

1. The email slump

Falling into an email slump is a habit that can cost you a lot of time and money. Although it can be easy to fall being in answering emails, it can develop into a bad habit that will seriously affect your long term success. So, how can you combat this? Consider incorporating an email schedule into your day. Make sure to schedule in time to answer emails, and take your email mountain piece by piece. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself.

2. The data overlook

Chances are, your association tracks its data analytics. But are you using that data to your advantage? It’s easy to track data analytics and never put that data to use when it comes to measuring and enhancing your association’s success. Often times, it might seem that you don’t have enough time to put this data to use.Here’s what Merrill Drew, CAE and Director of Membership and Customer Service had to say about herself and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM): “ I think we tend to not spend enough time measuring the success of our marketing campaigns to determine not only what works and doesn't work but also the why. ”So, how can this be avoided?“

To remedy this, we have designated a full-time position for Data Analysis and are looking into software upgrades for improved analytics,” Merrill stated. “We're hoping [this] will help us better understand and utilize data to measure the success of our campaigns and to provide a better portfolio of benefits to our members. Your association can adopt the same strategy by taking on a new team member specifically for data analytics.

3. The social media snail

It’s easy to fall into the habit of ignoring social media. It’s a fast-paced world that is exhausting to keep up with! But did you know that 48% of Americans have interacted with companies on at least one social media site? That’s right, almost half of all Americans are looking for social media stimulation with the organizations they do business with. Break out of your shell and reach out to members where it matters most. Research their social media use, find them on platforms they engage with, and you’ll be sure to create more growth for your association.

4. The late to rise

Getting in those extra hours of sleep can feel amazing, but if you find yourself constantly rushing to get to work on time in the morning, it might be time for a change. Creating a strict schedule in order to manage your morning time can help keep you on track and on time. You should also consider turning off electronic devices at night in order to get a better night’s sleep.

5. The lost contact

Losing out on valuable member communication can turn into a habit that will decrease engagement rates for your association. It’s essential to make sure you stay on top of member engagement through communication. Let’s take what Curtis Kitchen, CAE and Director of Communications for the National Auctioneers Association (NAA) into consideration. "One bad habit an association professional can fall into is operating with the belief that all of his or her members are as consistently plugged in as staff is," said Curtis.

"Staff live and breathe the association as part of their daily professional life, and most members do not. So, if you feel like you have over-communicated a campaign message or even the mission and vision for your association, you haven't."

Make sure to reach out to your members constantly and consistently. Keep your association at the forefront of their daily routine, and you’ll be sure to get the engagement rates you’re looking for.

6. The distracted listener

Let’s be honest, it can be easy to tune out. You’ve got a lot on your mind, and sometimes when people speak, you tend to drift off into another world.Breaking this habit is vital when it comes to the needs of your members. Members want to be heard and have their concerns and problems dealt with.Make sure to pay more attention to your member’s satisfaction. Listen to what they have to say, and it could lead to a higher satisfaction rating- and maybe even higher renewal rates.

7. The assumption

We all know how the saying on assumptions goes (do I even have to repeat it?). You don’t want to start making assumptions about your association’s members or their needs.

Susan Motley, CAE and Deputy Director of the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters (ASPR) had some advice to give about assumptions. “I’d say a bad habit can be “assuming” that silence is agreement,” she said. “That leads to groupthink, and can really be a bad habit even for high functioning groups - especially if they know each other well.

“The [best] way to break that habit is to go out of your way to make sure you have input from as many voices as possible, even if you have to be the one that mines for unspoken ideas. Or, suggest that you need someone in the devil’s advocate role before a crucial decision is made to assure important questions are asked and answered.”

Here's another quote from Janet McEwen, CAE and Director of Corporate Relations for the American Society of Radiologic Technologists(ASRT). "I'd say a habit easy to fall into is believing that I, as a staff member in the association office, may think I know what a member (or in my case, a corporate supporter) wants or how they may react to a potential new project or offering. It's important to create a cadre of members or corporate supporters who will give honest feedback. Expand the network - get out of the silo."

8. The lack of attention

This bad habit goes hand in hand with poor communication and distracted listening. If you aren’t giving your members the attention they deserve, it could lead them to leave your association and find another.

Be sure to cut of any inattentive behaviors you may be showcasing towards your members. Show up to help them where they need it most. By giving your undivided attention to members, you can start to produce positive feedback and satisfaction that will drive up the success of your future goals.

9. The procrastinator

Do I even have to say anything here? We’ve all been a victim to the sweet clutches of procrastination. But you don’t want the words “I'll do it later” to become a constant in your vocabulary.

Combat procrastination by tackling all projects and other tasks head on. It’s important to start planning and organizing for a project as soon as possible. This will give you an advantage when it comes time for deadlines.

10. The negative naysayer

Negativity is an easy habit to adopt. You don’t want to let it sink its way into the way you deal with professional situations. Taking negativity out of the workplace is a hard habit to break, but it’s worth it. Whether it’s cutting out workplace gossip, bringing down coworkers in order to get ahead, or any other negative mindset. Cutting this out of your daily routine is like getting rid of a toxic force- it will feel refreshing once it’s gone.

11. The idealistic thought

In a perfect world, your association would run smoothly and every single member would be satisfied and ready to bring in more customers. And while that sounds dreamy, it’s safe to say it’s not quite realistic. It can be easy to get into the habit of expecting the best for your association. This can lead to putting less work in, and just hoping things will work out. Let’s see what April Kates-Ellison, CAE and Director of Client Services at the American Dental Association (ADA) had to say.

“As an association professional, I have been guilty of both the "that's a good idea" and the "build it and they will come” mentality, only to find that the program or initiative was not well received by members.”

She continues. “Now, leveraging member insight and perspective is a central component of my program development, planning and implementation.” Break out of this bad habit by making sure to actively put work into your ideas and keep a realistic mindset for the future of your association.

12. The lone wolf

Working alone can have its benefits, but often more times than not it can bring around trouble. No one wants to have all that pressure on their shoulders. Don’t let yourself become a loner. This type of attitude can present a standoffish vibe that could deter people from working with you in the future.

Allow yourself to work together with coworkers and produce a positive, team building environment within your office. Who knows, this could lead to bigger and better ideas that can drive up revenue for your association.

13. The missed opportunity

And finally, we have the missed opportunity. This bad habit can affect your work flow in many ways, including missing out on revenue opportunities. Don’t let your bad habit stop you from bringing in the most revenue possible.

You can avoid sinking into this habit by taking up any opportunity for revenue possible. (for example, have you considered hosting a job board on your company website?) This Friday the 13th, don’t let your unlucky habits turn into permanent ones. With our helpful tips, plus the helpful tips of other association professionals, you can be sure to turn your luck from bad into good.