Shaheen Jamshed Mufti: Superb Systemisation

A member of a team has been working hard at a company. The year has started off well. The team is driven, everyone knows what they’re doing and things look like they’re going great.

Suddenly, that team member feels unwell. They take a week off. When they’re fit and well, they return to work…only to find total chaos! Their team members are relieved to have them back and the team’s returning member soon help get things back on track again.

Is this you or someone you know? The moment you (or someone in your team) step out of the picture, do things fall apart? Could something like this happen in your Toastmaster club?!

If so, you need to introduce systems into your club! Having systems in place will help your leadership team members and club members run your club smoothly and efficiently, making sure that it continues to function without your (or any other member’s) regular personal intervention.

Think of running your club a bit like running a business. Most successful businesses have effective systems built in. Can you imagine a CEO of a Fortune 500 company going on holiday for a fortnight and their company then collapsing? I think not. Why? Because of teams making use of systems.

These companies work well because they factor in the possibility of company personnel changing, moving on, passing on as well as moving into different roles. And your club is no different.

Where do you start in your own club? Ask yourself: “If I had to take a month off, what would need doing and who would do it?” Based on that, you can begin rallying your team together and building systems accordingly. To effectively achieve this, you can do some of the following

  • Share skills with fellow embers so that there is a pool of skills to draw from when the time comes
  • Create easy-to-follow role guides for meeting functionary roles specific to your club. Make sure these are accessible by all of your members
  • Create easy-to-follow leadership role guides so that your leadership team successors will have your knowledge to take pointers from (and refine themselves)
  • Introduce a leadership mentoring process where members of your leadership team can take on members as ‘mentees’ and get them to assist with roles. This will provide them with a taste of what things will be like on the leadership team.

During my time as President of Early Bird Speakers, one of the things I had on my manifesto at the start of the year was ‘Leadership Focused Mentoring’. I realised that our club already had solid mentoring systems in place to help our members develop as speakers (and in other meeting roles), but I wanted to do something to bolster the leadership team aspect of mentoring and get ordinary members involved in leadership roles so that they too can get a taster of what the roles are like and thus, consider taking on a leadership role in future.

Our VP Membership, Cindy, took on two members who supported her with the weekly VP Membership role tasks. At one point, Cindy was away. However, with the effective systems put in place (the two supportive members now had the skills), business could continue as usual without Cindy. Cindy (alongside the two members) had expertly created a system to support the club.

As an added bonus, both of the members who supported Cindy are now members of this year’s leadership team at Early Bird Speakers! With the skills they procured during their time supporting Cindy, they were able to be part of the new leadership team with the advantage of having already had some experience. What if your club already has great systems in place? As per our Toastmasters creed, there is always room for improvement! Listen to your club members (guests too!) and refine your existing systems. You’ll soon find that there are many areas for improvement and that those little regular tweaks can go a long way, slowly transforming your club into an efficiently run and well-oiled machine run by great members for all your members.

Also, as new things are introduced to your club (such as GDPR this year), you will need to effectively implement that into your club whilst working with the relevant leadership team members to create appropriate systems that will take care of that area. Factor in the relevant people, technology and other elements involved. Get your team and entire club on board! Collectively, you’ll all keep the cogs of your great club turning.

To see where I can refine a system, I sometimes like to sketch out a flow-chart, listing the different ‘steps’ of a particular event. If there is a gap in the flow-chart or the relevant personnel have not been listed, I can clearly see what needs doing to improve it. Small example:

Guest visits TMI website (guest)>

Guest finds Early Bird Speakers and wants to attend (guest) – Meeting/venue info up-to date >

Guest emails club about visiting (guest) >

Email received in shared Leadership Team email account (all/part LT have access) >

VP Membership (or supporting members) reply, providing meeting info (VPM) >

VP Membership adds guest name to attendance list (VPM) >

VP Membership (or support) prints the attendance list on Wednesday night (VPM/support)

Now that you have an idea of building systems, go forth and bolster the systems in your club.

Summary:

  1. Build systems for your team to use so that your club can run without you/one specific person
  2. Create easy-to-follow role guides for meeting roles and club leadership roles
  3. If/when you have systems in your club, refine, refine, refine!

Have a fun time working alongside your team as you collectively build superb systems into your club. See you again in a month!

Shaheen Jamshed Mufti is Immediate Past President, Early Bird Speakers

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