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Business, Engagement Edition Engagement Matters


By: Margot Smith •  4 years ago •  

For 75 years The Australian Institute of Management (AIM) has been helping people become managers, and managers become great leaders. As the peak body for managers and leaders, we believe that leadership matters.

With more than 12,000 individual and corporate Members, and a further 5,000 organisations that purchase our diverse range of management and leadership products and tools – AIM is the go-to organisation for managers and leaders.

In my role as General Manager, Engagement & Marketing, I am responsible for the Member experience of AIM professional (i.e. Individual) Members. This is my fifth role with a Membership body – Membership organisations are in my DNA and delivering to Member expectations is something I strive for every day.

The other portion of my career (about a third) was in the corporate spheres, such as the energy, telecommunications and publishing industries. I have to say, Membership bodies are much more satisfying to work with for a number of reasons. Having a sense of purpose, supporting whole professions or groups of Members is something that really drives me.

AIM’s vision is “better managers and better leaders for a better society”. I love knowing that I have contributed to someone’s personal or professional journey, and that I am making a difference to their career and their life.

AIM – Why Membership Matters

AIM has recently been through a vast amount of change. In 2014, four out of the five state-based ‘divisions’ of AIM merged to form the AIM Group. Then in 2015, after detailed analysis and review, AIM divested of AIM’s Education & Training (AIMET) business, which means that AIM is now focused solely on our core business: Membership. We still partner with AIMET to offer AIM Members discounted access to market-leading education and training products.

Over the past few years our Member numbers have been declining. The real challenge for us now is to recover lost Members and build a new and expanded Membership base.

I joined AIM in 2015, after these changes had occurred. What excited me about the role was the opportunity to engage with our Members in a new way and the ability to have an impact on the state of management and leadership in Australia today and into the future.

The transition to becoming a dedicated Membership body once again saw AIM returning to our roots, enabling us to deliver products and services with much more clarity. For this reason, our focus has become razor sharp on delivering value to our Members – in short, Membership Matters.

Leadership Matters: A collaborative team, a new vision and a new Member engagement strategy.

The team at AIM work together to achieve the shared goal of delivering Member value with the focus on Member engagement and Membership growth. At the heart of this is our commitment to offering a broad range of management and leadership products and services to Members in as many locations around Australia as possible.

AIM’s Vision: Better managers. Better leaders. For a better society.

AIM’s vision ‘Better managers. Better leaders. For a better society.’ speaks to the importance of sound management and leadership practice and its far-reaching impact. We believe that the Vision truly embodies the sentiment of our Members. They recognise the importance of leadership both within the workplace and throughout society in general. Management and leadership skills make a contribution both within and outside the workplace and that’s exciting to me. I firmly believe that AIM is an organisation that has a role to play in supporting all of us, both personally and professionally, throughout our journey.

As I mentioned, part of my reason for joining AIM was to have a real impact on the state of management and leadership in Australia. I, like many of you, have had strong managers and leaders, and not-so- strong managers and leaders. In hearing about AIM’s vision of ‘Better managers. Better leaders. For a better society.’, I wanted to help to support our Members and, in turn, achieve AIM’s mission to raise the standard, number and profile of professional managers and leaders.

I have engaged with Members for two-thirds of my career, but never before has the content been so ‘juicy’. I get to work with managers and leaders every day, as they learn and grow. How cool is that!

Leadership Matters: AIM’s 3 year strategy

With the vision in mind, AIM’s 3 year strategy is an engagement-based strategy that places our Members and Member services at the heart of the organisation. Leadership Matters is built on one simple premise: that Members want to see AIM add value to their leadership journey.

MVP diagram

So what does engagement look like at AIM?

We have defined the AIM Member Value Proposition, highlighting a broad range of products and services that Members can access. Having worked at five Member bodies now, this is the most comprehensive Member Value proposition that I have seen, and had the privilege to co-create.

Services such as our free mentoring program, Member Exchange, is a real drawcard for both mentees who are seeking guidance from someone who has paved the way before them, but also mentors, who want to give back to the profession.

As far as AIM is concerned, networking is working, so we offer many opportunities for Members to connect with like- minded (and not so like-minded) professionals. We offer Member-only events and open invitation events, in order to facilitate networking opportunities. We also offer virtual-connectedness via our Linked In Discussion Group, where Members can lead the discussion on topics or questions of interest to them.

Members of AIM also receive a range of content on management and leadership practice. From our monthly policy and advocacy newsletter, Insight Edge, and our professional development online tool, Leadership Direct, to our bi-monthly magazine Leadership Matters. AIM is increasingly having a voice on the subject of the sound practice of management and leadership. We invite Members to participate in the content as our subject matter experts – our engagement levels are stronger because of it – but even more than that, our content is richer and more robust with the input from our Members.

Add to this our Management Diagnostic Tools, such as DiSC (a personality profiling tool) and Genos (an emotional intelligence profiling tool). AIM is the largest supplier of DiSC in Australia which is complimented by our on-site facilities of the AIM Library and Member Lounges in a number of locations.

But HOW do we engage with Members?

At AIM, we have created a Member-centric culture in order to retain and grow our Membership base. We have decentralised Engagement & Events Teams to ensure that we have local staff to engage with Members in the major capital cities, and also some regional centres. Our Engagement Managers’ KPIs are based around Member retention, Member acquisition and Member engagement.

Another important part of our engagement strategy are the Regional Advisory Committees, comprised of local Members in 8 existing locations, with another 6 Committees being formed in the coming months. We see local engagement as critical to retaining and growing our Membership, in addition to engaging with the regions for specific programs such as the AIM Leadership Excellence Awards.

We are really just beginning this amplified engagement journey, but the signs are already encouraging. For example, AIM’s recent Leadership Outlook Series, on the topic of culture and strategy, was delivered across 12 locations to more than 700 participants, mostly Members. Our International Women’s Day events in 5 locations, attracted over 2000 guests – both Members and non-Members. From the high engagement levels with Members through our newsletters, our new-look magazine plus our Member Services Team and Engagement Team – the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

Looking ahead: 2016 and beyond

After a period of significant change and consolidation, AIM has embarked on an exciting new journey, but in many ways it’s ‘back to the future’. The Institute was established in 1941 as the membership body for professional managers and leaders.

The vision of the original founders was to create an organisation that could accompany its Members throughout their careers. An organisation that offered a place for like-minded managers and leaders to get together and learn from each other – and from others – about sound management and leadership practice.

Without our Members there would be no AIM and without AIM there would be no professional body to advocate for better managers and better leaders for a better society.

What engagement looks like for some of AIM’s Fellow Members, working with their clients:

David Ross FAIM, Director, Phoenix Strategic Management

“For me, engagement with clients and affected stakeholders is vital in protecting brand and transforming performance. It involves drawing on compassion and collaboration to inform a greater understanding not only of our context, but just as importantly, of ourselves and the commitment to create a shared direction. Therefore, engagement truly informs better decision-making but may be viewed by the leader who lacks self-awareness as risky due to the need to share power and control.”


John Goddard FAIM, Director, Better Managers

“Engagement as a concept and as a real measure of performance is as important as profit and customer satisfaction to build a sustainable business. During my career as a manager and leader, the best businesses have always focused on improving staff engagement and providing an environment for personal learning and growth. Do this well and you will build an organisation that stands out from the rest.”

“Building a close working relationship as a coach or mentor requires a box full of trust from both parties. It’s like any relationship, progress will be slow when trust is low so it may be best to walk away early (qualify-out) from a potential coaching opportunity. Of course, when the signs are good, both parties should invest their time to build trust.”


Margot Smith is the General Manager – Engagement & Marketing at the Australian Institute of Management. She has worked in five associations, engaging with Members in accounting, finance, law, governance, and management and leadership. Managing and leading teams is also something that she is passionate about, and sees this as an ongoing learning journey. She is also a Fellow of AIM, a Certificated Member of Governance Institute and holds a BA in Psychology & Education as well as a Grad Dip in Business Administration.

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