SERVICE to the Member
Jim Christine, DTM
Congratulations to all of you! Your effort and dedication to the Toastmasters mission catapulted us to being a distinguished district for the second year in a row! Looking at the statistics, it was quite a feat and you should be proud of what you worked so hard to accomplish.
The celebrations have died down some, and the realization that we have to start all over has set in. The start of the new program year, and the transition to a new leadership team, along with those pesky new role titles, make for some challenges and opportunities ahead.
Lets get to it.
For the 2015-2016 program year we are focusing on “Service to the Member” as our guiding theme. It is one of Toastmasters core values, gathered in the acronym “RISE”: Respect for the individual, Integrity, Service to the member, and a dedication to Excellence.
As I look back on the past year, I was surprised by some of the comments that have been shared with me about Toastmasters. Most of them were good, even great. Others not so much.
Many of you already know and implement the core values; when I look over the results from the past year I can see that many clubs have reaped the benefits. Based on the feedback, however, it would seem that in some cases we fall short.
Whether your club is distinguished or not there is always room for improvement. At this point in the year we all start over. With your new executive committee your club has fresh leadership and, presumably, a new perspective. You have a chance to start fresh.
Since we’re starting fresh, I propose an acronym for your consideration and use that embodies the theme for this year, SERVICE:
- S – Set reasonable goals. It is difficult to achieve anything without a set of goals. What do you want to accomplish, and when? If it’s a big goal, break it down into tasks. Next, get it to paper: a checklist, a to-do list, a timeline — whatever works for you as long as it has tasks and dates. Without it you won’t know where you’ve been and what you have yet to do.
So, here’s a quick tip: print a copy of the Distinguished Club Program goals and write the dates that you think your club will meet each one of them. Review the list at every club executive meeting, and adjust the dates if needed.
- E – Empower your members. I’ve said on occasion that Toastmasters is a leadership laboratory. Its one place that one can learn by doing, and more importantly make mistakes without fear. If a club member wants to chair a contest or a campaign and they’ve never done it before, let them do it! Experienced club members should mentor members in these situations. Be encouraging!
- R – Refresh your attitude. If your club has a member that insists on consistently expressing a negative attitude, they may need to be encouraged to keep it in check. New members rely on experienced members and negativity always finds a way of reaching the surface. Guests talk to their friends and word does get around. Your club may lose members and prospective members based on the attitude of a single person.
- V – Value achievement. Whether a member gives their first speech or completes a manual, meeting a goal is a big deal. When a newer member gives their first speech they deserve a standing ovation! When a member completes a manual, recognize them with a ribbon or some other branded item. More importantly, enter their accomplishment into the Toastmasters website as soon as possible. Do not wait until your club collects a group of award applications. The member earned the award, they also deserve timely recognition.
- I – Inspire each other. Does your club have long-term members that do not (or worse will not) advance in the education program? Are these members in a position of leadership such as a club officer or mentor? New members quickly recognize clubs that do not encourage underperforming members to follow the program. This can be a detriment to the membership. Members should encourage each other to work on their educational goals.
- C – Consider new ideas. “We’ve never done it that way,” or “that won’t work” tends toward rigidity and rarely fosters growth and new ideas.
- E – Embrace change. With new leadership things change. Whether it is your club or the district at large, change can be a good thing. Let an idea succeed or fail on its own merit. Sometimes the kinks are not completely worked out. Former leaders can best serve their club by helping the members work through change, not dominating the club.
Are you satisfied with your club? Can you provide SERVICE your members? Look at your club’s results for the last year and consider whether changing even one small thing can help improve your club.
The quality of your club is a choice, and the choice is yours.
Jim Christine has been a member of Toastmasters since 2009. He has served in various roles at the club and district levels and currently serves as the Program Quality Director for District 22. He is a member of Olathe Sunrise Speakers and a charter member of Victory! Toastmasters Club.