Spring Training

By | Building a Company, Communication, Culture, Free Career Advice, Grow Your Career, Talent | No Comments

There have been some great posts to the Culture Blog recently by relatively new team members, which is so great to see! 

As a Daxko “veteran”of 16 years, I am still grateful for the career, the growth, and the new challenges that come with being part of the Daxko Nation. In the past year, I have had the great pleasure to work much more closely with our People Team. My greatest focus during that time has been collaborating on Team Lead development. As Daxko grows, we are shifting away from star performers who take on team lead responsibilities in addition to their work. In order to get to the next level, we need talented Team Leads who are passionate about developing high-performing, healthy teams. And that is their work. 

Team Lead work is not for everyone. Some people may think that being a Team Lead is a critical rung on the proverbial ladder of success. That’s not true. What makes us successful in our careers is that we love what we do, we are recognized for good work, and we are fairly compensated for the value we provide the company.  Many Daxko team members are absolute rock stars in their own right, and their career path will take them further down the path of expert software developer, major account sales, or critical account management. One of the worst mistakes Senior Leaders make is to take a rock star who loves what they do, and put them in charge of people, when their passion is the work, not the team. But for people who are gifted at the relational aspect of leadership, bringing together a high-performing team is probably the most rewarding work they’ll ever do. And every team member at Daxko, from those just starting out to those who are way down their rock star career path, will benefit from great leadership. 

On Tuesday, we spent an entire day off-site doing “Spring Training” for Daxko Team Leads. We focused on ways to develop a heightened sense of self awareness and social awareness. We broke into small groups and had lots of discussion on understanding our own emotional triggers, how to manage them, how to recognize them in others, and how to manage those. One of the most insightful take-aways from that session (thank you, Charlie Peters!) was that we need to take the time to respond, not react– and they are different. 

Our afternoon was filled with group work facilitated by Melva Tate. The topic was improving communication across teams. A few things became evident in that session: 

  • We all need to remember our responsibility as “Chief Communication Officer” for our teams.
  • We could use more clarity on which communication channels to use and when.
  • Clearer instructions need to be given on when and how to cascade information.
  • Communication skills like brevity, organization, focus, and action are lacking in some areas.
  • Some communication processes between teams need to be established (e.g. Infrastructure Team getting more lead time from Product).
  • Everyone would benefit from a more holistic view of Daxko and what different teams do, so we can better understand interdependencies.
  • Discussion about exercises involving multiple balls would make a great Kick-Off sketch! (you can thank me later) 

We have more work to do to come up with solves for our communication challenges, so more to come on that. If you are interested in being part of the communication solution, come see me any time! My “door” is always open.

April B. is Daxko’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. She enjoys historical fiction, foreign films, good food, and her career at Daxko.

Following Members their First Year

By | Engage, Engagement, Industry, Mission Delivery, Organizational Health | No Comments

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mickey Pedersen, the Marin Associate Executive Director with the YMCA of San Francisco. Daxko Engage has helped this Y revamp the way they communicate with members as a whole, and new members in particular. “I think that our new members are having a completely different experience than members were before we started using Daxko Engage,” Pedersen says.

The YMCA of San Francisco launched the Daxko Engage member engagement software in January and has been working consistently to adopt the software across the association. “At each branch we have someone who owns Engage. We created a whole training program for our Wellness Coaches around engagement. Weaving Daxko Engage into that training has shifted the way we onboard and train staff.”

As a part of their training, the staff at San Francisco learn how to use Daxko Engage to identify members most in need of engagement. They also discuss the best ways to approach and speak with members, and how to approach members that might be distracted or have their headphones in. The training has a valuable impact on engagement at the YMCA of San Francisco and stresses the importance of face-to-face interactions. “Face-to-face interaction is the most important for us…,” says Pedersen. She also explains that the training is used to encourage staff “not just interact with people that they already know.” Daxko Engage helps the YMCA of San Francisco identify members who are highly engaged and those who have low engagement. “Engage gives us a collective approach” to look at new member engagement.

Beyond using Daxko Engage to facilitate face-to-face interactions, the YMCA of San Francisco has a year-long plan utilizing the software to follow new members and help them get the most out of their membership. Pedersen outlined the strategic way they engage new members. “When a new member joins, five days later, they get a phone call. In fourteen days we check in with them again and make sure they’ve scheduled their wellness appointment. We have all these automated tasks that help us keep up with new members,” explains Pedersen. The staff at San Francisco knows that engaging new members is the best way to keep them around for the long haul. “We follow [new members] for the first year,” she says. “I would say our new member experience has been completely transformed.”

Member engagement is a complex and time-consuming process. Learn more about how Daxko can help you engage members throughout their lifecycle in our video.

CEO of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee Shares Thoughts on Engagement

By | Engage, Engagement, Industry, Membership, Mission Delivery | 3 Comments

dan-dummermuthSeven months ago Dan Dummermuth took the helm of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee in Nashville. He didn’t waste any time getting a serious member engagement initiative underway. Systematic engagement is something Dan had already rolled out at his previous YMCA in Colorado Springs. Since his new Y in Nashville is a much larger operation, with centers that are literally hundreds of miles apart, a consistent approach to engagement became even more imperative. I had the pleasure to interview Dan a few days ago to see how the new efforts are going, and he was kind enough to allow me to share his thoughts here.

Why is engagement important?

When it comes to membership, engagement is critical for us. It’s why we do what we do. We have to understand individual needs, as well as those of the entire family, to connect them with appropriate services that will help them get where they want to be, from a holistic perspective. That’s critical…and we need tools to do that. We need the data to measure the approach and adjust when needed. We need to put staff in a position to be successful on that. We have to assign the right people to our engagement effort…some people are better at building that relationship than others. In addition to having the right people, we’re putting together engagement training to help them be successful.

 Why do Y’s typically struggle with systematic engagement?

I think a lot of it is the sheer volume of people coming through our doors. What happens a lot of time on the engagement side of things is the capacity of the staff is tested. We already ask staff to do so much, and taking a systematic approach to engaging members is one more thing. So as leaders we have to take a hard look at that. If engagement is going to be a priority, if we really want to help people–and grow revenue by adding members and stem attrition by keeping members– we have to make engaging them a priority. Sometimes we may have people in the wrong roles, or lack adequate training to make engagement successful. So that’s something to evaluate too.

What results do you expect to see from your engagement program?

We used to do a 13-month snapshot on retention–that’s one way to measure it– but we’re now looking at 120-day retention too, and that is getting an increased focus. As we look at overall retention throughout the entire year, of course we want to see a percentage increase there. We’ll be measuring member giving too; if our members are engaged at a much higher level, they’re going to understand our organization, and I believe our member contributions should go up. I have seen that happen when we start getting the engagement part right. So overall, I think we’ll see overall membership revenue increase, our member acquisition rates will improve when we truly engage at the point of contact, and member contributions will increase.

What value do you see in the software component, Daxko Engage? 

Engage will help us capture information much better than we have been doing, especially if we go to tablets and can plug in information as we are talking with prospective members when we interact with them. It also allows us to understand their needs to a higher degree–to get to know the member, to understand the member, to know their interests, and to communicate more effectively—it’s how we can support them as we move them along on the journey to a healthier lifestyle. Finally, Engage is going to automate certain triggers that need to happen along the way and assign them to the appropriate staff. We will have visibility into all of that, to see what’s getting done and where we still need to improve.

Operationally speaking, how are you staffing and training for the roll-out of your engagement initiatives?

We have staff with roles as “greeters” and “connecters.” The greeters are there to meet and welcome members. Then we have connecters; they’re the ones that are really driving our engagement program. So that’s how we’re structured now. We have a full launch planned in December, when we plan to roll Engage out beyond our wellness program to include aquatics, child-watch, and so on throughout the entire operation. We are being really strategic about how we implement this in alignment with our priorities, versus just “turning it on.”

Do you have some advice for other Ys thinking about rolling out an engagement program?

You’ve got to position staff to be successful. In most cases, you can’t just drop this in and keep the same structure you had before. You have to look at the capacity of your staff. You may have to take some things off their plate. You may need to assess some staff. Do they have the skillsets needed to really drive this? You also have to make sure you have ownership at the branch level so that the right activities are taking place and branch leadership is bought in to the priority. We’re driving this at the senior level and talking about the importance of engagement at our planning meetings. We are measuring the metrics that we have set, and we are learning from each other on why some centers are more successful than others. We are creating a culture of support for the overall initiative. We are really just getting started, but from my perspective, staff preparedness, focus, and buy-in from the senior team are non-negotiable for success.


By | Community, Culture, Grow Your Career, Professional Development, Technology | No Comments

Not only did we just get the most awesome weather of the year and start football season, but it’s also Innovation Week in Birmingham!


There’s lots going on, and we can all benefit from a little innovation inspiration. Here’s a line-up of a few events you may want to tap in to. Think beyond “how could this help me today.” Meeting with others in the tech community helps us broaden our thinking, expand our networks, and make new friends. That can come in handy when you are trying to solve a new problem or have a spot to fill on your team.


Check the whole line-up of Innovation Week here.

 Innovation Week