3 Steps to Making Chapter Changes Successful

3 Steps to Making Chapter Changes Successful Image

Maybe it’s as simple as changing the time of your monthly meetings. For years they’ve been at lunchtime. You’d like to switch to breakfast meetings, to get more (and new) people to attend. Or, maybe your change is more complex, like removing a toxic board member from his or her role.

Regardless of the intensity of a change, changing can be challenging. There are stories of chapters that have turned over entire Boards to implement a change. There are also those who’ve gotten comfortable doing things a certain way -- like attending lunchtime monthly meetings. It works for them, and they see no reason to change.  

Those holdouts don’t mean you’ll never be successful making changes in your chapter.

Having a structure or defined process for implementing changes can help you and those you’re asking to change better prepare for, implement, and accept that change.

Try these three steps, to give your next change a better chance of success.

Step 1:  Create a sense of urgency around the change.  How can you show why it’s so critical to shift from lunch meetings to breakfast meetings? What data will show the downsides of not making the change? Perhaps, if you don’t make it easier for people to attend earlier in their day instead of trying to break away at lunch, you risk losing existing members and not getting new ones because a lunch meeting doesn’t work with their work schedule? Pull your overall membership numbers and review them against the number of people who’ve attended each of your lunch meetings for the past five years. And create a list of those who’ve attended each meeting. Show your Board and your membership at large that the numbers of attendees remain low and, for the most part, the same 25 people come each month.

Step 2: Manage the change effectively. Good change management is much more than simply delegating tasks. It includes asking for help and input, to gather stakeholders, build momentum, and get buy in from those who might not accept the change otherwise.

Ideas for successfully managing change include:

  • Sharing your vision and asking for input before you start;
  • Asking members to lead pieces of the change;
  • Setting expectations by establishing benchmarks, outcomes, and milestones;
  • Showing small wins as often as you can;
  • Celebrating your successes along the way; and
  • Communicating throughout the process.


Step 3:  Reinforce the change. The critical last step is a plan to ensure the change continues to have the desired impact. Share your vision for the change and how it related to the vision for your chapter.  Are there other changes you can make that will deliver additional positive outcomes similar to those delivered by the initial change? Could something as simple as changing the food vendor increase the number of meeting attendees? You could change your meeting time, for example, but if you don’t keep your meetings interesting and engaging, and continue to ask if the time and format continues to meet their needs, you could end up with the same problem you had with your lunch meetings:  the same 25 people attend and membership suffers, as if you’d never made the change.

Change is harder for some than others. By starting early, managing it effectively, and including long-term supports, change is easier to implement and easier for your members to accept.

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