Why the Annual Chapter Performance Evaluation Fails

We’ve been doing a lot of work with associations lately who are asking how to better evaluate their chapters. Most are answering that question with an annual review of some flavor. Maybe it’s a checklist that gets filled out each year or an annual awards submission. A few are producing annual scorecards. The problem with all of these approaches is in the word “annual”.

I think 15five’s David Hassell post “The Annual Performance Review: #FAIL” sums up the why:

The pace of modern business is lightning fast. If you wait to do a review once every year, you miss a huge opportunity to have your team operating at its peak potential. Priorities and shifts in the market occur all the time, not just every December. By neglecting regular check-ins with talent, leaders are unable to collect valuable information that could be keeping the company on its toes.

True he’s writing about staff teams but it applies directly to our chapters and components. They are members of our team and if they aren’t operating a peak potential, the association stands to lose – members, revenue, resources. What’s worse in our situation is that our leadership changes – often annually. So by waiting you miss the teaching moment all together.

Hassell also reminds us that recency dictates reality. If the commute home at the end of a productive day was longer than usual, you remember the commute. If a chapter ends with a big success – such as what I wrote about recently – it’s hard to get them to focus on what went wrong earlier in the year.
Not unlike Kenneth Blanchard’s One-Minute Manager strategy, the immediate appraisal or reprimand is the answer to turning our evaluation process from fail to succeed.

Sure, you’re not likely to be close proximity to your chapter leaders which is why Hassell’s version – the pulse check – fits the need a bit better. Essentially this is creating a regular feedback loop. For associations it can be a chapter dashboard that is regularly refreshed with critical information. We are working with a medical society to implement a dashboard that provides guidance lights to help chapters understand where they “sit”. Check out our slide deck from Peter Houstle’s ASAE Annual Meeting on his session on chapter dashboards for more ideas.

Success, in Hassell’s words, is built on a framework of information that supplements recent history with an objective historical record of performance. All of which gives you and your chapters a comprehensive and qualitative assessment as the moment when action is needed.

Is 2014 the year to ditch annual chapter performance assessments?