Core Standards Year One – Planning Lessons Learned


It’s over. And your association passed the test – meeting or exceeding the NAR Core Standards by the first year’s deadline. What did you like? Dislike? What did you learn? Are you going to be better than before? If you were already meeting the standards, did the process remind you of some of the basics you may have left behind and could stand refreshing.

It remains to be seen what changes may be made to the requirements in Year Two, but there will assuredly be some. So, be ready.

Planning Observations. Maybe you’ll see some similarities to the things I learned myself through a very busy year of strategic planning facilitation (which is my lame excuse for no newsletters for months)!  Here are just a few things I observed from dozens of associations going through the planning process.

  1. Everyone wants their plan to be SIMPLE and easy to follow. Not pages and pages long of unnecessary and forgettable information. You can add details through the implementation process.
  2. Some associations – large and small – didn’t have an effective planning process that resulted in successful implementation of their plans. This is an ongoing challenge for many, so don’t fret about it – just get your noses a little closer to the grindstone a little. And develop business plans. And make them accountable! By assigning objectives to committees, groups, or even individuals, and following up, you’ll get it done.
  3. Many associations have been budgeting first, then planning – fitting into the plan what’s in the budget. Backwards, baby.
  4. Some associations – large and small – have some dysfunction in one area or another. Usually personality based. Again – don’t fret. Get to know each other and build your team – whether it’s a volunteer/staff team or a senior staff team, take the necessary steps to find out what works well and what doesn’t. And start to TRUST each other more. Easy words to write, harder to follow, but you have to start at the beginning. There are lots of programs to help. I have used some with success, such as Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni. Take a look at it.
  5. Most associations don’t look hard enough at their members. Who they are. What they do. What they need. What they want. You can get member feedback in lots of ways, not just the electronic survey, but simply office visits to get informal feedback on a couple of questions – like “what do you like about our association?” or “what don’t you like?” Etcetera. And, even if a member survey is undertaken, in many cases, little happens to the results other than, “Wow, that’s interesting. I didn’t know they felt that way.” Dig deeply into the results and do some member segment cross-tabulations. Do managing brokers like the same things that salespeople do? What about young v. “seasoned” members? Find out, then do some tweaking to your programming and your communications.

I could go on, but you get the drift. So, in sound bites:

  • Prepare for your planning. Look what’s happening around you (the NAR Danger Report is a good way to start the discussion.)
  • Find out what your members are thinking (and who they are!)
  • Get the right group in place. Ask them deeper questions.
  • Ask: what are our challenges? Why do we have them? What can we do to fix them? Who will do it? How will we know it’s done?
  • Then DO IT! Through tying business planning and budgeting together and monitoring and tweaking where you need to.
  • Keep volunteers and staff aligned on goals and the process to reach them. Build a strong team.

As your new elective and fiscal years get nearer, it’s time to really think about these processes and practices so you can all talk about what works best for your association.

Share your problems and your ideas. Even if you aren’t having any of these problems, but have others that are baffling you a little or you could use some new thinking, the upcoming Leadership Summit is a great way to check in with your peers to hear about what they’re doing. Sharing is such an inexpensive way to get better.

(Don and I will be co-facilitating a REALTOR® Leadership Program at the Summit on August 9 – maybe we’ll see you there!)

I hope to talk with you soon.




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