By: michael brennan

Spring 2019 Issue

CMC-Canada’s Board of Directors approved funding for a comprehensive survey of members, lapsed members, and potential members as part of the 2019 budget. In late January our Member Value project lead consultant Chris Larsen commissioned Look Research to design and implement the survey, which was launched a month later. By the end of March, the survey was complete and the analysis was delivered in the first week of April. On April 18th we presented the findings to Councils and national volunteer leaders via webinar.

The purpose of this project was to provide CMC-Canada leadership with evidence to support a concerted effort to increase value to members and attract a new generation of management consultants to the organization. We have understood instinctively for many years that new members were critical to the future of the profession; however, we lacked important information on how best to achieve this goal. This survey provides key insights on how members perceive CMC-Canada, the direction they wish us to take, the reasons some are disaffected and what it will take to grow our association. 

Response Rates (slide 8)
We had an excellent response rate overall, yielding findings that are representative demographically and geographically of the general membership as a whole. This is a valid study, with a member sample size that yields a 99% confidence level with a 5% margin of error.

  • 24% (560) of certified members completed the survey;
  • 12% (118) of lapsed members responded;
  • 6% (160) prospective members responded.

Key Findings (slide 9)
Overall member satisfaction is moderate:

  • 35% are satisfied or somewhat satisfied with CMC-Canada overall;
  • 5% hold a negative view;
  • 62% are in the middle;
  • 60% of members had no involvement with CMC-Canada in the previous 12 months.

A concerted effort to increase value and performance could have a significant impact on satisfaction. In that case nearly half of non-retired lapsed members would be open to rejoining and 6 in 10 of prospective members would be open to joining.

There is almost universal support for the principle that all consultants would benefit from being governed by CMC-Canada’s code of professional conductcompetency frameworkbody of knowledge and requirement for continuous learning in the public interest. This is true of lapsed members as well. 8 in 10 prospective members also share this view. All segments agree that this is important because what separates the high value professionals from others is the notion of protection of the public interest as being primary and things like certification being a means to that end.

More than 7 in 10 (50% of lapsed members) would recommend CMC-Canada membership and the CMC designation to anyone entering the consulting profession, even though few see direct benefit in terms of career opportunities or income.

Credibility, professional credentialing, code of professional conduct, connection to the consulting community are all cited as the main benefits of membership.

The most important overall priority for members is for CMC-Canada do more to promote the designation. That can be considered ‘passive value’, there being no requirement for the member to do anything to derive benefit from the association. It is not the key driver of engagement and ‘active value’, where members derive benefit from the programs and services available to them. Improvements in ‘active value’ are tangible, more easily measured and thus are more effective drivers of member satisfaction in the short term.

Key Drivers of Active Value (slides 20 and 70)

  • Thought leadership;
  • Access to best practices, trends, and continuous learning;
  • Being a source for relevant information;
  • Leadership for the profession;
  • Advocacy.

What matters most in members’ assessment of CMC-Canada benefits (slides 24, 73) is a high-quality designation and oversight of professional practice, access to tools, information and intelligence, development of personal skills, mentoring for younger members, and connection with community and customers.

Potential members tell us that there is work to be done to better communicate how the certification process works and to ensure that it is being managed efficiently and fairly.

In spite of the strong feelings about the importance of the code of professional conduct, of competent and ethical practice and professional oversight, less than half of members feel CMC-Canada is doing a good enough job ensuring compliance. A reinvigorated focus on oversight and governance is seen as important.

Members, lapsed members, and prospective members all view affinity programs as having less importance. On the other hand, they see reduced cost of membership as one way to improve value. Well-selected affinity programs can remind members on a daily basis of that value, with the priority on tools and services to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

The top reason for lack of engagement with CMC-Canada among the three groups is lack of relevance, meaning learning and events are not providing the experiences they are looking for. Members are pretty clear on the type of activity they would like to see more of—best practices, industry trends and thought leadership. Services to address these needs must be a priority. Acceptance of online delivery is high, and the cost and resources required for online are low, so online learning will be a priority moving forward.

Members with less than 3 years’ experience are somewhat doubtful of the value of membership. This is consistent with the high turnover rates among members in their first and second years. There needs to be a concerted effort to address their specific needs: mentoring, networking, personal skills development and a sense of belonging, beginning with new member welcome and keep-in-touch programs.

What We Have Learned & What We Are Doing
There are three key issues that we are acting on to improve the value of membership and grow the profession:

  • Professional development is the most important program to grow and maintain membership. CMC-Canada must provide high quality, accessible information that helps keep members at the top of their game in order to stay relevant. We will enhance members’ access to thought leadership, personal development, and mentoring to transfer and sustain professional competence. We will provide more tools to enhance professional efficiency and effectiveness. We will increase the value of membership by improving programs and services, and ensuring that costs are in line with derived benefit.
  • There is strong support from all respondents to create a relevant ethical framework and provide learning for management consultants at all stages of their careers, from students to workforce entry, through certification to retirement. CMC-Canada will work with educational institutes to expand awareness of the management consulting profession and encourage membership at the earliest career stage. Certifying Institutes should emphasize public protection and professionalization of the consulting profession by means of governance of professional practice that includes oversight to ensure competence and compliance with a code of professional conduct & ethics.
  • Increased awareness of the value of the CMC designation is members’ most desired outcome. This is a long-term objective requiring a more unified profession, able to support sustained awareness activities and demonstrate excellence through commitment to ethical standards and continued competence.

We are very grateful to all members who completed the survey. We encourage you to read Look Research’s full analysis on our website.

Michael Brennan is the Executive Director of CMC-Canada. He has over 27 years’ experience in Third Sector leadership and health policy. He holds Bachelor of Arts (History) and Master of Arts (Economics) degrees from the University of Ottawa. Michael has published articles on health economics, the role of associations in generating social capital, responsible lobbying, and non-profit Board strategic thinking.