Yesterday, I hosted a meeting of Chapter Relations Professionals on the topic of building trust with chapters. One of the participants noted the following pattern that occurred at her old association:
The HQ would roll out a new program or service for their chapters which was well received. However, the HQ would then often decide, a couple of years later, that they would no longer be able to offer the program. Naturally, the chapters became distrustful when, at a later date, the association rolled out new programs. The chapters were unwilling to commit their time and energy to the new programs for fear they would be discontinued in the near future. Who could blame them?
All of this reminded me of a quote I read in the book Performance Management by Aubrey C. Daniels:
"Trust is measured behaviorally by the correlation between antecedents and consequences. In other words, those who always do what they say are trusted; those who do no are not trusted...An unkept promise by a manager causes the person not only to distrust the manager but the company as well."
The Bottom-Line: Every time an association rolls out a new program or service - be it for its chapters or its members - it is making a promise. To keep that promise, the association needs to be committed to the program over the long haul.