Being a chamber of commerce professional is not easy.
Not only is it a demanding role in itself, you rarely get time off from your chamber position. Whether you’re out for dinner with your spouse or friends and people come up to you with chamber questions or you’re running errands and suddenly someone has a question about membership, work-life balance is a bit of a fallacy for the chamber pro.
But that doesn’t mean you have to let it get you down or be the reason behind professional burnout.
Your role in the chamber will be much more enjoyable–and you won’t hurt your chamber job success–if you’re able to shake off the following self-sabotaging thoughts.
The 8 Most Common Self-sabotaging Thoughts That Hurt Your Chamber Job Success
#1. I Must Know Everything. If I Don’t, I’m Not Good at My Job.
While it sometimes feels like you’re asked the most absurd questions as a chamber leader, it’s okay to admit you don’t always know the answer. If it’s within your purview, explain to the asker that you will find out the answer for them and give them an estimate of when you’ll find out.
Don’t feel like you need to give reasons as to why you don’t know the answer. Don’t tell someone you’re new on the chamber job or the person who left took that information with them. Excuses don’t matter to the person asking.
They just want the answer. Let them know how you are willing to help.
If the question is outside what you do, you have the choice to either direct them to someone who can help or go out of your way for the person making the inquiry and find out the answer.
When you admit what you don’t know it can be very liberating and can help build trust among those who interact with you. Feeling like you have to know everything for chamber job success can also put a lot of stress on you … stress that you don’t need.
2. I’m the Chamber Brand.
A lot of chamber professionals are Type-A personalities who get things done.
In fact, many of them get caught up in feeling like they are the chamber because they are so passionate about business and the community.
However, when you try to become the sole face of the chamber, you then start to feel like the only person who can do anything on behalf of the chamber is you.
While that may be true of some of your job responsibilities like check signing, you can’t do it all yourself. You need to be able to groom future leadership, grow your staff, and rely on the help of your volunteers and board.
It’s okay to feel like you are the embodiment of the chamber but you can’t be the only person associated with the chamber brand. At some point you will leave the chamber. If you are the only one who the community associates with it, they’ll be struggling upon your departure. A sign of chamber job success is that they can go on without out.
Do your best to ensure that you help all boats rise and not just your own. Not only is that better for the chamber in the future but also for your own stress level and mental health.
3. They Don’t Like Me.
If you are in a position of leadership with the chamber and you’re doing a lot of innovative things and changing how the chamber used to function, you can be assured there will be people who are uncomfortable with what you’re doing.
It’s important that while you’re making these changes that you believe in–for the business health of the community and your own health–that you stop considering any hesitation or pushback as personal.
It’s likely people won’t want to follow your suggestion. They may even say personal things about you. But it’s rarely personal, even when it sounds like it is. Most of the time you’ve simply scared them out of their comfort zone.
If you’re doing something you believe in, try to get consensus and support. But know that those who resist and dig in the hardest are not doing so because they personally don’t like you. You threatened their complacency. You forced a response. They “showed their teeth.”
Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t fall victim to being a victim.
Not allowing it to get personal also means making the tough decisions even when you know they won’t be popular.
For instance, if you know that eliminating an event is in the best interest of the chamber, its members, and the business community because it will allow you to focus on attaining your goals, then you need to make that decision even if you won’t be popular for a little while. If that event is so important to the community some organization can step up and help to host it.
Although chambers are in the “people business” sometimes you have to make a decision for the people that they won’t always like. If it’s in keeping with your goals and will help the business community, you have to look past trying to win the popularity contest.
4. I’m Doing the Work and Making the People Happy.
This in and of itself isn’t a terrible idea. But it becomes one when you think that doing the work is going to make everyone happy. Even when you succeed in creating a rising tide for your business community there will still be people out there who lament the fact that the water is too high.
Don’t focus on their negativity and the fact that you thought they’d be happy with what you’re doing for the community. Instead, work on meeting the goals that were part of the chamber strategic plan.
5. The Whack-a-mole Game is a Productivity Strategy
Don’t ever organize your day like you’re playing the whack-a-mole game!
You know the carnival game that has nine openings where little plastic moles poke their heads up periodically? And you hit them with a big padded hammer. Every time you do you get a point.
This game is a comic way to think of a day in the life of a chamber professional. Although it’s easy to fall into a reactive situation where you just hit the “mole” that’s coming at you, you need to consider your goals and prioritize accordingly. Don’t just pound down the loudest, most visible problem.
Which brings us to…
6. Stagnation is Okay. I Don’t Have Time for Anything Else.
Obviously, no one really believes this.
But there are some times where people fall into the idea that treading water is perfectly fine. That chamber job success just means holding on.
However, the problem with treading water in the chamber industry is that you’re not getting anywhere. Since your chamber job success is measured on your ability to show progress both by the chamber board and your members, treading water can mean the end of your job.
Instead, with every decision you make as a chamber leader ask yourself is this course of action bringing me closer to my chamber goals or further away? Every decision you make is one or the other.
If your decision isn’t making any forward progress toward your goals, then it is taking you further away from them. No action (or forward movement) is a negative one.
7. I Need to Be Everyone’s Parent. It’s Just How My Staff Is.
Sometimes we inherit them and sometimes we just make bad hiring decisions. But whatever the reason, if you have an employee or a volunteer who you have to parent on a regular basis, you have to help them see the benefit in moving on. You will spend way too much of your most precious resource– time– coaxing, cajoling, redirecting, and reiterating your instructions.
It’s hard when you feel like a parent to an employee or volunteer because while you may be frustrated with their inability to perform, you may also be reticent to kick them out of the nest. You may even feel responsible for them.
But it is beneficial to both of you to let them fly. Not only are you burning a precious resource by keeping them on board, you may also be creating an unproductive environment among your staff. They may wonder why you don’t let that individual go, especially if the staff is left to pick up the nonperforming employee’s slack.
Having the hard conversations sooner rather than later will benefit you and the chamber in the long run.
8. Not Recognizing the Marathon.
Chamber work is a marathon. Most of the goals you have as part of the chamber are going to be long term. You may have individual components or tactics that are stepping stones toward your goals.
But the goals themselves are often things that take months–if not years–to see some real solid movement.
Because of this, you need to celebrate attaining these stepping stones just as you would accomplishing the big goals.
These many celebrations of your accomplishments will make you and your team feel like your work matters. The celebrations will keep you on track and motivated over the long term. They will also help others see the things you are completing as they’re happening as opposed to looking back years later. Most people simply don’t have that kind of attention span.
Mastering these self-sabotage thoughts will also help you feel less stressed and more in control your position.
Recognize that chamber work is difficult but rewarding. If you can steer clear of these self-sabotaging actions, you can have chamber job success and become a very successful chamber professional.