Posted on Oct 26, 2007
John M Grau
The boardroom at our national office has been taken over, and school is in full session.
This is the week for SETS and CATS. Those acronyms stand for Staff Executives Training School and Chapter Administrative Training School. They are orientation and training sessions for new chapter and national staff. Under the direction of “Dean” Stuart Binstock, who in real life is NECA’s Executive Director of the Management Executive Institute, attendees learn about administering a local chapter, and also what services are available from NECA and who’s responsible for them.
This week we have 13 people attending the three-day SETS class which is geared for new chapter managers, assistant managers, and national staff associates. The two-day CATS class has five attendees who are chapter administrative personnel. The CATS sessions focus more on learning about processing membership and finance information at the chapter level.
NECA has offered these courses in one form or another twice a year for over 40 years. Almost every NECA chapter executive has attended one sometime in his or her career. Some interesting topics covered include complying with anti-trust laws, chapter risk management (i.e. insurance coverage), strategic planning, chapter NEBF collection responsibilities and of course labor relations issues.
I teach a segment on chapter administration that I’ve dubbed “How To Get Fired.” It’s based on my observations of how some former chapter staff have gotten themselves in trouble. The number one, absolute best way to get fired is to cheat on an expense account. And there have been some very creative attempts over the years. The second leading reason is embezzlement. Not by the chapter manager, but by the person in the office writing checks and handling the books. While the manager didn’t steal the money, he inevitably pays the price by losing his job.
I have long thought that chapter staff education is one of the great services NECA offers to its members and chapters. In additions to CATS and SETS, each NECA region holds an annual chapter managers conference, and we have a national association executive conference in the convention city each spring. We’re adding specialized labor relations training to the mix starting next year (more about that in future postings), and more advanced training through a recently formed Chapter Executives Institute (CEI) will continue next year as well. On top of all that, our field staff is available for individual consulting and assistance.
The new chapter staff attending SETS and CATS this week are well on their way to becoming part of the best association staff in the country. But it’s only a start to a lifetime of learning.