Emphasizing Professional Development

June 20, 2013
By Beth Brooks, CAE

Career growth. Leadership development. Mentoring.  At a recent CEO session, the subject of younger staff not understanding the association profession came up. Many people are hired by an association to do a specific job (database administration, meeting planning, finances, etc) but they don’t really understand what an association is or how their job could fit into a career path in association management. 

I have found that when association staff meet others who do what they do, the connection is immediate. They realize they are not alone and that there is a whole community of people they can relate to and learn from so they can do their job better. A network of colleagues who can share work ideas, challenge you, grow with you,  and cheer you on can really make a difference in attitude, engagement and professional growth.

Once you have an inspired staff who feels connected, you want to ensure that they develop work-related and leadership skills so they can grow personally and professionally.

Skills such as public speaking, time management, leadership, financial reporting, communication, and staff management are valuable to any position.  If you are a supervisor, are you helping staff identify what areas your staff needs to grow in?

If you are a younger employee do you know what skills you need to move up or improve in your current position?

If you are unsure where to start, here are some suggestions to get you on the right track.

Introduction to Association: If you are new to the association world, our free Introduction to Associations webinar is a great first step to learn more about your new industry. I am amazed by how many staffs don’t know the difference between a 501c(6) and c(3) or what the difference is between a trade and professional organization. Understanding the basics about the profession you work in should be mandatory for all staff.

Toastmasters: This program is invaluable if you are looking to improve speaking skills (an essential skill for any professional). There are hundreds of clubs in Texas, but TSAE Toastmasters and DFWAE Toastmasters both offer weekly meetings. Learn in a supportive environment everything from running a meeting, introducing a speaker, thinking on your feet, and making a presentation.

Leadership TSAE: For mid-level association professionals, TSAE has an annual nine month program that provides a small group of up to 15 individuals with exclusive education, leadership training and a mentor. More info.

Certified Association Executive: If you have five (5) years of association experience and 100 hours of nonprofit continuing education, you might be eligible to take the certified association executive (CAE) exam.  The CAE is the highest designation you can earn in association management. TSAE offers two study groups per year to help you prepare for this comprehensive exam. 

Our recent compensation survey noted that for upper management (CEO; COO) the average amount per employee for professional development is $2,400 and for other staff it is $1,400 per year.  How much importance are you placing on professional development at your own organization?

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