Tuesday, July 15

How professional mediation organisations can add value

Great 5 part answer from Diane Levin over at the wonderful Mediation Channel to my request for some help with my presentation last week on how mediation organisations can add value to mediation practice;

'Geoff, I know that this comment is coming way, way too late for your meeting, but I hope it's still appropriate to share my thoughts. As someone who in a single year allowed to lapse memberships in three organizations for ADR professionals, I think I have some useful advice to offer.

Here's my open letter to organizations for ADR professionals:

First, provide your members with useful information that helps them do their jobs. A monthly electronic announcement for example that shares news, business tips, as well as links to news stories or web sites that are directly relevant to my work. Help me do my job better so I can make money and thrive as a business owner, as well as be a credit to my field. Avoid scholarly articles on obscure topics that aren't relevant or useful to most of us toiling away in the trenches.

Second, provide value for those membership dues. Provide regularly scheduled programming (workshops, panel discussions) taught by respected and experienced professionals that will help me deliver services more effectively or give me tools to help me manage and market my practice better. Don't waste my time with programs that don't do either. Schedule meetings and networking opportunities too at locations that encourage as many people as possible to attend, and not just for folks in one single geographic location, particularly if your mission is to serve a larger geographic area. Vary the meeting place to accommodate those different geographic constituencies.

Third, provide me with discounts and services -- discounts on professional liability insurance or access to credit card processing, for example. Give me a listing in an online directory so that clients can find me and make sure that I can easily update my listing, including contact information. Provide me with notices of job opportunities in my field, but don't make prospective employers pay ridiculously high fees to post online job postings on your site.

Fourth, communicate with members when you make important decisions that directly affect members. And in fact, communicate with them regularly and reliably. One of the many reasons that I let my membership in ACR lapse is that they dropped the ball on the mediator certification issue without bothering to inform their members -- after making such a big deal out of the member survey on certification and appointing a panel to explore it.

Fifth, respond to member inquiries, questions, and concerns promptly. Commit to resolving issues rapidly. (In one case, I never received quarterly publications I was promised as part of my member dues, despite numerous requests over a three-year period to correct my address.) Earn and deserve the trust of your members.

Geoff, I'm sorry that I'm several days late here, but hopefully this helps'


P.S Diane has a great post expanding on this topic here

1 comment:

Diane Levin said...

Geoff, thanks for devoting an entire post to my response to the great question you posed. I salute ADR professionals in New Zealand who are taking that question seriously in the hope of creating an organization that will be responsive to the needs of its members.

Sadly, in my experience, all too often organizations are eager to get those dues checks but not so eager to honor its obligations.

FYI, I refined and expanded on the thoughts I shared on your blog in a post at Mediation Channel.

Thanks again, Geoff!