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  • Sarah Gazi, CAE

Association Professional or Professional Nag?


Some days it feels like my primary role is that of nag.


Where are we on this?

Don’t forget to complete the survey.

Don’t forget to renew your membership.

Please let me know your availability.

Just following up on the email.

Be sure to register.

Just a reminder that we have a deadline approaching.

Can you send me the report?

Be sure to join.


Nag. Nag. Nag. But for a leader and a manager, that is part of the job, right? Yes and no. And it’s all how you frame it and deliver it. But yes, if getting things done requires me to be a nag, then by golly, I will nag away…with care.


Now the tricky part of being a nag is the framing and delivery so that while you know you are nagging, the recipient just feels reminded or politely asked. Service (or nagging) with a smile, of course!


Frequency and timing are also important. It’s imperative to show staff and volunteers that you trust them, so keep the “reminders” to a minimum. Have a little faith. Be a leader who doesn’t hover. This is essential! But if you are a week out from a conference registration deadline, chances are that nagging of members and possible attendees is required and required frequently.


Basically, you need to know when to nag and know when to trust. And if nagging is required, you need to perfect the art of nagging without people knowing that you are nagging.


Example 1: Staff Reminders

Bad: “This is a reminder that I need that document completed next week.”

Better: “Regarding that document that is due next week, feel free to ask questions or consult with me if you need to. I’m here to help if you need anything.”


Example 2: Volunteer Reminders

Bad: “Your committee report was due yesterday. Please get it to me ASAP.”

Better: “Just a friendly reminder that your committee report was due yesterday. If you need any staff support or data to complete it, just let me know.”


Volunteers are volunteers. They typically aren’t getting paid for their work and efforts, so being understanding is critical, but they do need reminders as they often have day jobs and their volunteerism can fall to the wayside. Always demonstrate compassion, understanding, and support. Oh, and this is most important…always set deadlines for volunteers a week before you need something. It takes the pressure off you, and if something is late you look like the hero for letting it slide just for them. And of course, you know the actual deadline so nagging can be reduced.


Being a nag isn’t a bad thing. It is a part of being a leader. How you do it can be bad, and that is what separates a good leader from a bad one.


And when your spouse, child, significant other, family, or friends complain that you nag too much, just remind them that you actually get paid for your excellent nagging skills and it’s literally what helps to pay the bills.

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