What Even Smart Organizations Do That Sabotages Membership Growth

Sep 24, 2019

Have you ever set a goal for yourself, then somewhere along the line, you realize you’ve completely self-sabotaged your chance of success?

Most of us (if not all of us) have done this at some point.

Consider the goal of running a marathon. Let’s say that you decided that you wanted to run your first marathon in 2020. There are a thousand different ways that you could sabotage your achievement of that goal.

  • You could say that you want to do the marathon and then not really do anything about making it happen.
  • You could choose an event that’s too early in the year and not give yourself enough weeks to build up to the necessary distance.
  • You could overload your calendar with other commitments so that you aren’t able to train consistently.
  • You could push yourself too hard and get injured.
  • You could fail to register for the race in time.
  • You could get stuck in a bad mindset and be unable to get past the wall of fatigue.
  • …and so on.

Even if you’re not a runner, you can substitute in nearly any goal – and there are ways to sabotage it. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, it’s easy to fall into the sabotage traps.

Membership organizations do this, too.

Organizations say they want to achieve a specific goal next year, but then:

  • They just continue to do the same thing that they’ve been doing which leads to the same results.
  • They set unrealistic timeframes for what’s possible.
  • They overload themselves with too many conflicting priorities.
  • They push too hard and burn staff out.
  • They fail to accomplish key milestones in time.
  • They get stuck in bad patterns of thought that they just can’t shake.

Let me give you three examples where I’ve very clearly seen this happening.

  1. I’ve talked to countless founders/owners over the years who *say* they want growth, but when I ask them what they are doing to get in front of new people, there isn’t a single thing that they are doing consistently. These are smart, committed, passionate people who are just so busy doing the work that they love with members that they don’t do the less fun marketing tasks.


  2. Another example are the organizations who say that they are very interested in providing what members want, so they give their members an extensive survey. When I ask them what they did with the results of the last survey, they tell me that they didn’t learn all that much. I always wonder why they would spend more of their time and their members’ time on subsequent surveys. Leaders think they are doing the smart thing by asking members what they want, but using the same strategy that you used the last time is sabotaging. It’s unlikely to get different results.


  3. The third example I’ll mention relates to being budget-conscious. While it is absolutely smart to be a good financial steward, I see many organizations inadvertently sabotage their success because they can’t or won’t make investments. Many times, this isn’t overtly stated – that they won’t make the investments. Instead, it looks likes multiple meetings and hoops that have to be jumped through, which slows the decision process and makes it very difficult to make progress.

As I said, there are a million ways to sabotage success and these are just a few. If you step back for a moment and look at your own goals, or your organization’s goals, you will likely see some version of sabotage happening.

Again, these are things that even smart people and smart organizations do, so it’s perfectly normal stuff. Yet being able to move forward requires being able to recognize when these sorts of sabotaging actions are happening and taking action to address them.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Perhaps there are some sabotaging actions getting in your way?

You can send your reactions privately to me using the gadget below this post.

Like this article?

   I’ll bet you’re going to *LOVE* JourneyCARE…  what is JourneyCARE?

Hey there.  I’m Joy Duling, Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.

If you’re the type of person that is committed to providing an exceptional member experience and you’d like to attract, engage, and retain members more easily, you’ll want to check out the new software platform I’ve created to support you.

It’s called JourneyCARE, http://journeycare.app, and there’s a good chance that when you see it, you’ll realize that you’ve always wished for something exactly like it.

Come on over and check it out.  I’ll see you over there.