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New Balancing Act

January 1, 2007

“Balance” is probably the biggest single challenge association executives face—balancing staff with elected leadership; programs, activities, and services with member-demographic needs; and the different personalities and priorities of members on our committees. Without the right balance in each area, committees will not meet their goals, staff or members will become frustrated with each other, and, most important, the services the association offers will suffer.

The biggest challenges can arise after the annual election of directors and officers, when it can become apparent that the elected individuals have conflicting styles or personalities, which may hamper the smooth exchange of ideas. This balance can be precarious at times, and we have to make sure we’re not perceived to be “unbalanced” during this process.

Over the years, a shift in the balance of association workload from volunteers to staff has resulted in heavy demands on staff at all levels. Organizations of all types have been experiencing a decline in individuals willing to volunteer their time. For Realtor® associations, staff now play a larger role in program planning and facilitating, while volunteers are relied on for ideas and concepts. The use of focus groups, surveys, and one-on-one meetings has been increasing as committees have been declining. The appropriate balance must be achieved to ensure that our association programs are based on member, not staff, desires.

The merging of local associations and multiple listing services also presents challenges to maintaining a structural balance within today’s Realtor® association community. We have seen balancing the political concerns of the members and, in some cases, the merging organizations staff jeopardize a merger that makes economic sense. A merger or combination of services that makes sense on paper may present significant challenges as member cultures are combined. Past experience has shown me that areas separated by mere miles may have significant differences in customs related to real estate sales. These issues may involve the process for arranging showings, tax pro-rations, and transaction closings. The merging of MLSs may present an entirely new host of issues—from the preparation of property data profile sheets to training thousands of Realtors® in the use of new technology.

As CEOs and association executives, we must always work to achieve a balance in services, programs, and member perceptions that will ensure a cooperative atmosphere within the organization.
When discussing balance, we always should remember to include our own personal lives in the equation. Too often we lose sight of what is truly important and the reason we work. Take the time for your family, friends, and yourself.

Personally, I would like to offer my humble thanks and appreciation to all AEs for giving me the opportunity to serve as the 2007 AEC Chair. A goal we are working toward this year is to have more involvement from new AEs and from individuals who have not been involved in the past. Diane Ruggiero, your 2007 Vice Chair, and I hope to balance the committees, work groups, and various appointments with both seasoned and new AEs so we may learn from one another and provide input to the NAR leadership.

Walt Baczkowski, rce, cae
2007 AEC Chair
CEO, Metropolitan Consolidated Association of Realtors®, Mich.
wtbcae1@aol.com
248/879-5730