Contractually Speaking….

Or why you need a contract. In my travels I have always been taken aback by the sheer volume of association executives that do not have a contract. It is absolutely imperative if you are to be treated fairly and it is also protects the association from unnecessary strife in ensuring that the organization is run appropriately and objectively.

So now the question comes- I have been employed for years without one- how do I bring this up, when do I bring this up, and why after all this time would the board want to agree to one? These are all very good questions. So to answer the first question- how do I bring this up really answers the second question- when do I bring this up. The best time to bring up a request for contract is at the annual performance review. This is for several reasons, the performance review is typically a time for negotiation. There is an expectation that you are going to ask for something (normally a raise). If you are not consistently being evaluated that is another problem for another post. If this is the case bring it up as you near your anniversary date. Here is a 5 point how to list:

  1. Write your Board of Directors explaining your request for a performance evaluation and explaining how assessing your performance is a fiduciary duty of the board. State at this time you will be requesting a contract for future employment
  2. If you get annual reviews email your executive or personnel committee or whoever reviews you that your expectation is a discussion on the merits of a contract for future employment (now we have answered the how and the when)
  3. At least one week prior to the review you will complete a document which explains the protections offered to the Board of Directors through a contract agreement
  4. You will ask for the 5 things that should be in every executive contract. Here is a great post that explains them
  5. Remember that you will also provide the benefits for you in the contractual relationships such as objective consistent performance reviews, a sense of security and protection, and although you have always given 100% this is a means to ensure a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.

You should prepare them for the discussion. At my review I would like to discuss the possibility of a contract that protects the membership, the board and me. At least one week prior to your meeting you may want to send your research and your request for contract provisions. In other words, give them something to say no to and go in with the expectation you will come out with a contract.

Any time we question the status quo there is an element of risk. You must be willing to take that small risk and discomfort in order to avoid larger risks and greater discomfort down the road, such as when a volunteer president is hell bound to get rid of you simply because he/she does not like you. I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice and you may walk out of negotiations with a damaged relationship. Only you can decide if that risk is worth it. However, personally, as your association yoda, the real risk to your future is not having the protection of a contract.

For assistance in developing the benefits analysis of a contractual relationship please contact me at

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