Lucky Number Seven

By: Shelly Sobol

A long, long time ago, in a cubicle not so far away, a few brave managers decided to hire a bright-eyed twenty-something in need of a job. With no association experience but a passion for customer service, they brought her on to assist with the Partners in Association Management empire… aka, their growing client base

Little did anyone know at that time, that the blind leap of faith would have resulted in a seven year journey. This year will mark seven years at this company and it’s incredible to think about how I’ve helped grow clients, become part of a wonderful team and even impressed myself. So in honor of seven years at Partners, I wanted to share seven tips to make work, work for you!

  1. Don’t wear blinders. It may work for some race horses, but not for the non-profit management. Keep your eyes and heart openRacehorse for new opportunities in positions, clients and responsibilities. You may be surprised at how others perceive your talents and you may be fantastic at something you’ve never considered before. Genuinely try and give it your best for at least 6 months.
  2. Life happens. Accept it. People have babies, move away, quit, move on to other endeavors, you name it! It’s not because they dislike you and they WANT to dump their work on you. So stop treating it like that. Use this transition time at your office to take on a project you’ve always admired or try something new to see if you have the skills for it.
  3. Ask WHY! Maybe it’s the borderline millennial in me, but I Question markalways ask “why”. It’s because I want to understand from a business, nonprofit, association viewpoint why this action (or inaction) is beneficial. Asking those questions (and answering them if you’re a manager) can grow your performance more than you can imagine.
  4. Make it your baby! This is a phrase we use for a project/program that you started with in infancy and have grown. Find one thing- and make it yours. Get pumped about it, develop it, tweak it, and work with it until you’re the “it” person for that. Nothing will erase that feeling of pride when your project succeeds even if it took two years to get there.
  5. Take a hike! Or a cruise, staycation… anything! You WILL get burnt out if you don’t. So leave early and take a long weekend… or take a random Tuesday off (if you have leave) and run errands. Time away from the office can bring forth a fresh and renewed perspective to a project.
  6. Buy in, or check out. Why have I stayed with a company so long? Because a long time ago, I bought into what we do, what we provide to our clients and I believe that we bring a tangible benefit to our clients and their members. If you don’t feel the same way… evaluate your situation and determine if your passions are aligned with the organization you’re supporting. If not, maybe you should consider starting a new journey.
  7. Timing is everything. Just because you created a well thought out project and it gets shot down doesn’t mean that you should never bring it up again. If the reasons against it are money, staff involvement or being afraid of the unknown…Time watchand it’s something you feel strongly about, then I encourage you to wait and bring it up again. In 2007 when I started, non-profit Facebook pages were likened to dark matter and nobody knew how to maximize the potential- let alone manage staff using Facebook during work hours. Give it time, consistently advocate for it, and eventually it will become an option. This is important because, then you’ve returned to #4!

I’ve learned a lot in the past several years here, and I always encourage the newer staff members to do these steps. I encourage them to take pride, try hard and to stand up. Being respectful and having determination are great tools at any age, company or industry and never goes out of style.


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