It’s About People Stupid!

At our most recent AENC CEO Roundtable, hosted by the NC Propane Gas Association, we had a facilitated discussion about the generations.
As an association executive, the challenges in dealing with four different generations in the workplace at the same time can often seem overwhelming. In addition to dealing with it in the workplace, we also must deal with it amongst our memberships, too.
At the Roundtable we first started out by digesting the different generations. For a great quick reference to the different generations, check this site out.
The great part of the conversation dealt with how differently the generations valued membership in an organization. The same sales pitch isn’t going to work for the 20-something as it did for my Dad’s generation (baby boomers). They joined organizations because it was the right thing do to and they felt they owed it to the profession. And also, these folks planned to be in the profession for a while, so they don’t mind giving back. For the younger generation, you have to be willing to meet them in the middle. Some people say that young people aren’t joiners. And I disagree. True, not as many of them are joining as did the baby boomers, but, that’s just because they are more selective about what they want from an association and there is truly a WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) mentality. And that’s OK. Associations should be all about the member. Its our jobs. So, you really need to take the time an address the needs of the potential or current young members of your organization. They value belonging to a group if they can put a price on the value they get out of it.
One of the things that fascinated me the most about the conversation was towards the end of the conversation one member basically said, “This conversation about all the differences in the generations is neat, but I think it’s all crap”. The fact is, he said, we are all people and we all have a need to be around people who are like us. The tools we use to do business are new for some and second nature to others, but the fact is, that people will always have a need to be around each other.
At this particular roundtable, we did have almost every generation in the workplace represented, minus the WWII generation. However, he was right. Everyone in the room new and seasoned, agreed the ability for association members to get together and network with each other was a key benefit and associations need to figure out a way to do a better job at that.
And we have got to try and work hard at being all things to all people. We are all different, whether we are 20 or 50; black or white; man or women; or married or single; associations have to appeal to the masses. However, we have one thing in common. We are all people.