Message from the President

Rita C. Ferris, CAE

The Power of Asking the Right Questions

Hopefully you have cultivated a terrific base of customers and staff members who you undoubtedly want to stick around for the long haul. To foster engagement and longevity, it’s important to talk with your customers and staff regularly to solicit feedback regarding their experience with your company. At the NRLA, members are regularly solicited for feedback regarding our services, the convention, and most recently, the Lumber Co-operator. Internally, we’ve engaged our staff in a number of ways, such as large group discussions, one on one meetings, and surveys targeted to specific topics.

To prepare for an NRLA management retreat in April, I asked our facilitator, Jan Flynn, to provide me with questions to check in on how NRLA staff feel about our workplace. I was provided the following questions, which encouraged our team members to think about their positions and allowed them to bring up anything on their minds:

What I like about working at the NRLA is .... ?

One thing I have a concern about is …. ?

What I would like you to know is …. ?

The NRLA staff was asked to submit their responses anonymously. The responses I received were thoughtful and constructive, reflecting the commitment our staff has to the success of the organization. They also awarded our management team with insight on a variety of items we didn’t know the staff noticed, motivation to build on the positive aspects that the staff most appreciates, and awareness of areas we can improve upon. Additionally, the feedback took the guess work out of where to focus NRLA’s energy and resources.

As humans, it’s our natural inclination to rush to address problem areas in our own way, but despite good intentions, your solution may not be what the customer or employee had in mind. When a concern is shared, it’s important to ask one more question, which is, “How would you like to see this addressed?” With that, the areas for improvement and the solutions are provided: all you have to do is implement them. Applying this concept to your customer and employee bases is not just smart, but easy. Some members are already doing this in one way or another, but there is always room to grow.

NRLA’s members and staff are the reasons for our association’s success, and asking the right questions – as well as finding out how you are expected to address concerns – can help make your companies and our association reach our full potential. Thank you for participating in NRLA’s surveys when asked and ensuring that the association is doing the right work on your behalf.

As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve you,