To build sustainable corporate clubs in Toastmasters, we must focus on one fundamental element: listening. By truly understanding the needs of corporates and club members, we can create an environment that aligns learning and human resources objectives with the preferences of the employee members.
Aligning with Corporate Sponsor’s needs:
Listen closely to corporates’ needs. Most learning and talent professionals have objectives to meet – know them! Ask about the business challenges affecting them, continuing education and accreditation objectives, ask them about imminent key conferences or events.
I would love to see Toastmasters programmes to be developed in line with some of the more recognisable accreditations and standards that industry recognises, giving participants tangible benefits and advancing their careers. However, there are still many more ways you can help the corporate sponsor achieve their objectives. I remember, one corporate partner we had in the banking sector that hosted a big annual trade show which the in-house Toastmasters club became the main vehicle for all presenters – how does a corporate sponsor not let this club to keep going?
Embracing Instructional Learning:
Toastmasters clubs present a great opportunity for talent leaders to spot the self-drivers. However, usually in learning programmes corporate has, the self-run system is not enough especially in closed clubs. One tweak that I hear is the desire for instructional learning. Tailored workshops, led by experts, enrich the experience. At one of the multinational vehicle companies, we have used talented experts in the organisation to deliver programmes like the Success Communication/Leadership Series programmes which contain key development skills needed in corporate and the transferable skills can make a big difference for participants and the corporation alike.
Listening to Members’ Needs:
Don’t forget the needs of club members. Truly hear their voices. While they may not pay to be a part of the club or they may be mandated by the company to pursue the programme, it is easier to have a successful club when we have buy-in and members are motivated to pursue the programme and see the personal and professional needs. One complaint I hear from some corporate members is how the club is an extension of work. Design fun and practical learning experiences that tackle personal and professional challenges head-on. Role-playing, group discussions, and real-life problem-solving create a supportive and collaborative atmosphere. We had a big delegation of corporate members that came to our recent conference in the Victoria Falls, now they want to come to next one. They will pull all stops to keep the club going and impress management to keep the club going.
Listening is the heartbeat of sustainable corporate clubs. Truly listen to corporate sponsor’s needs and tune in to the needs of members, creating a space where their voices are heard. Together, they will forge a path of engagement, growth, and sustainability together with us who are already very enthusiastic to help.
In your experience, what are some of the tactics you have used to improve sustainability of corporate clubs?