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Featured Writer: Bro. John Loayza
Lodge officer responsibilities include...
Created: 1/5/2017

Masonic Connections Featured Writer
Brother John Loayza
Assistant Grand Chancellor
Grand Lodge Leadership Committee
Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. &  A.M. 

John Loayza, Assistant Grand Chancellor
Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M.

Lodge officer responsibilities include the assurance of continuous growth and sustainability of our lodges through various means. Although there are many other goals comprising a lodge business plan, everything depends on advancing the good of the Craft with an enthusiastic, sustainable, and committed membership growth. In this modern era, this becomes a challenge in the ever increasing demands on our time. I.E., we need to look for innovative means to make Masonry interesting and motivational with all members but especially with the younger/future generations of brethren their families, and communities. Ergo, we need to look for modern methods or recruitment tools that will better service the needs of our highly technological society with more family oriented and social programs, besides the philosophical and ritual aspects of Masonry. This will require a true balance of lodge officer leadership responsibilities, understanding of our members and our communities, in order to develop a new type of Renaissance Mason. We need to look at a different aspect of responsibility not only within our lodges or to our members but also an outreach to and for our communities. Unfortunately, many lodges/lodge officers look inwardly but not outwardly and that needs to be corrected. Some of the corrective actions that need to be taken include:

Focusing On Long Term Objectives-With any unsuccessful event or action preventing the completion of an objective should be considered as only a temporary set back. What is important is to learn from any event or action concerning those necessary lessons and changes that need to be made, in order to reach the long term objective. This is simply a process of self analysis that will help to reach the ultimate goal.

Learning From Feelings-Lodge officers need to pay close attention to their feelings regarding anything they do, accomplish or fail at. Feelings are natural human emotions but as lodge officers, we need to ask ourselves what those feelings are telling us and what lessons those feelings are trying to convey.

Discomforting Activities/Events Equal Growth-When lodge officers become so comfortable in what they are doing, they can become stagnant. Some local lodge officers have difficulty and tend to be complacent if they are only in a comfort zone. However, they can grow much faster, progress more, and evolve in zones of discomfort because they are being challenged to resolve issues and welcome more responsibilities. 

Broadening Views Of Courage-Being vulnerable, open, and receptive to positive changes can be a form of courage. Although some hard charging lodge officers interpret courage as being fearless, this is not really correct, because courage is being fearful. As long as local lodge officers keep moving forward in a positive manner with more responsibilities, even being fearful adds to lodge officer courage doing its job.

Don’t Be Oblivious To Yourself-Local lodge officers remaining loyal to their own ignorance or stubbornness will always be costly. Self analysis, whether done as a lodge or as an individual 

lodge officer, along with discovery, can be a painful process. Nevertheless, it’s more painful in the long term if the local lodge officer is incapable of acknowledging, assimilating or shoring up his own shortcomings. Therefore, we should always try to become more self aware of ourselves and our lodges.

Being Our Own Project-General behavior studies of business or other organization leaders indicate that those who lead projects are often better than they lead themselves. We need to consider or analyze what it takes to lead an important project. Thus, we start by determining the desired outcomes. Then, we establish a timetable and identify critical milestones. Afterwards, we gather the necessary resources that the project needs to be successful, and to identify the critical metrics to track the progress.

Staying Present-Rather than trying to avoid all that surfaces during and after a humiliating or even a successful event, lodge officer responsibilities include immersing themselves in the experience. It’s necessary to identify the officer and lodge feelings that come up with the fears that are at work. Additionally, it’s necessary to identify how the feelings and fears serve once the experience/event plays out. Then the lodge officers can determine what they learned and how to put those lessons to future use.

Even though those lodge officer responsibilities of self discovery could be painful, they are also very rewarding. It’s how every lodge leader becomes a whole person, knowing the dimensions of his own talents, idiosyncrasies, and deepest desires.

The above process can become a richer, fuller, and more complete understanding of a lodge leader and human being. Thus, armed with that knowledge, local lodge officers are better able to use their strengths to serve their lodges, communities, and others, as they increase with their own lodge responsibilities.


Lodge Leadership Lessons
Created: 12/1/2016

Masonic Connections Featured Writer
Brother John Loayza
Assistant Grand Chancellor
Grand Lodge Leadership Committee
Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. &  A.M. 

John Loayza, Assistant Grand Chancellor
Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M.

As the world becomes more and more technically connected, and as information sharing becomes more rapid, we begin to see our world from a different perspective than our predecessors. Furthermore, this process has been true throughout history. It is a process of progress in our lives, in our work, and in all organizations. Thus, we need to bridge the gaps between what and how we did things years ago, to what is needed today, and more especially for the future. Recognizing, learning new leadership skills, and implementing progressive changes will ultimately help to prepare our lodge officers to manage their lodges, and to ultimately become better lodge leaders. The following leadership lessons are important to understand:

1-LEADERS LISTEN: Successful lodge leaders recognize that success is ultimately a team effort. Good lodge leaders will admit what they don’t know, and it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for help. No lodge leader can have a successful lodge by doing things himself but he can destroy his lodge by not listening to any good advice from the brethren he leads. Therefore, listening and not just hearing others is essential. 

Yet, good lodge leaders need to be very careful because some advice may not be as appropriate today as it once was many years ago. This is why lodges need to begin a good local management/leadership program to train future lodge officers as they begin going through the lines. Lodge officers being confident that they can make a difference is fine but doing it effectively is more important. They all need to listen more carefully in whatever organization they are in, and to surround themselves with those brethren who will challenge them and tell them when and why they are wrong. Lodge officers need to make that special effort to listen closely to their team (past or current lodge officers, and to their members in general). Moreover, the need to listen doesn’t diminish when a lodge officer becomes a Worshipful Master, it actually increases.

2-LEADERS CARE: Unfortunately, we still have many local lodge leaders who haven’t quite made it into the 21st Century. Some of them still cling to the ways that things were done too many years ago. Thus, there can be considerable differences of expectations between the younger generations who join our lodges and are confronted with lodge officers who don’t have interesting programs for their members and their families. Soon those younger members drift away from their lodges. 

Pro-active lodge leaders have certain written or unwritten responsibilities to help change the relationship and the reputation that our lodges have with society. However, this is easier done in some countries but not all. Where do we start this process? Actually, it begins with our lodge members. Newer lodge officers and some older lodge officers will undoubtedly make mistakes. How the other lodge officers deal with those mistakes will actually determine how they will be judged by their fellow lodge officers and members. No matter if a lodge officer is elected or 

appointed, nobody wins unless the members say or think that they win. Ergo, lodge leaders have to take a macro approach to everything and care about member wants and desires, not just their own as a local lodge official.

3-LEADERS INSPIRE: A lodge’s success depends on how well it’s satisfying its members. However, changing the world goes beyond a lodge serving its members because it’s also about serving society. Therefore, a visionary lodge leader needs to be thinking and planning about more than the next position he occupies in lodge. He needs to be thinking about the future and what his lodge’s reputation and place in the world will be, whether it’s 5, 10 or more years from today.

More and more of our members desire to be connected to a broader purpose, and a higher calling. I.E., they want their lodges to make the world a better place. We can and should do both. How can this be accomplished? It’s up to our local lodge leaders to set the tone, create the visions, and to inspire the methods that motivate our lodges to serve our society in a better way. As lodge leaders, we have an obligation to act responsibly, because our actions will have a long term future effect on the generations of brethren that come after us. Furthermore, the inspirational methods will empower and contribute to others in reaching their full potential.

Inspirational lodge leaders understand that our lodges are all about people first. The only way we can build genuinely successful lodges is to build lasting relationships both inside and outside our lodges. This is accomplished by holding ourselves accountable, by doing what we say we are going to do, and by inspiring others to strive for something bigger than themselves.

4-LEADERS WORK: Progressive lodge leaders who want to change the world in a positive manner need more than talent. They also need to do the work, because hard work and dedication beats talent, especially if talent doesn’t work hard enough. Nothing progressive happens in a lodge unless the lodge officers work hard to achieve it. Therefore, there’s really no substitute for hard or dedicated work. 

Although lodge education/learning will open many doors, and talent will open new worlds, it’s really hard and dedicated work that empowers lodge officers to achieve more than they could ever imagine. Thus, we live in a dynamic time when technology is changing our lives even more profoundly and rapidly than in the past. This is truly a world of unbounded opportunity for our lodge officers and lodges to become more successful. 

Brethren, if we learn and practice good leadership lessons and skills, Masonry will continue to grow stronger in the future. However, the future is in your hands. What will you do with it?

Lodge Essentials In Delivering Smart Member Service
Created: 9/26/2016

Masonic Connections Featured Writer
Brother John Loayza
Assistant Grand Chancellor
Grand Lodge Leadership Committee
Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. &  A.M. 

John Loayza, Assistant Grand Chancellor
Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M.

Today’s world has become the “Age of the Member.” His expectations run high, he has numerous options, and both personalization and empowerment are key elements in joining a specific lodge or any organization. Therefore, forward thinking organizations are studying and taking renewed looks at what “smart member service” means, as well as which characteristics it entails. Let’s briefly look at a few of the best practices in order to get started.

1-Begin by Listening - Listening to our members is crucial and so is accommodating their preferences, such as:

-Members want member service or lodge engagements to always work in a reliable manner. They look for intuitive, effectiveness, and consistency.

-Innovative, interesting, and effective delivery of any lodge engagement/activity for members and/or their families is always better than unpredictable, time consuming, boring or poorly planned meetings and events.

-Information channel usage varies from lodge to lodge and member to member because many lodge members use a multitude of information channels interchangeably. Therefore, lodges need to do the same. I.E., use meetings to announce upcoming events, our lodge websites, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. This is the modern age of communications so we need to use communications more effectively.

-Lodge members expect their local lodge officers to have the correct knowledge, skill sets, and authority to handle their situations.

-Leveraging periodic survey insights that bring the voice of the members into member service equations also leads to valuable lodge intelligence.

-Lodge officers, if properly trained, know what works and what doesn’t. Thus, they have a voice in designing and delivering good member service. They need to be part of a continuous overall business plan that all agree to, and to tweak it year after year, as necessary.

2-Use Technology To Uncover Insights/Information-One of the essential factors to move from better to smarter member service is in gathering information from lodge member interactions/engagements, then turning those insights into actions that improve member service and goodwill. By engaging members, analyzing the issues, and producing good results, we then have our greatest advocates within our lodges. Those actions will take things to the next level.

In today’s world, the number of communications channels (Websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc.), devices such as PCs, Laptops, Tablets, Smart Phones or others make member interactions flowing through them to gather and interpret information quite a task. Yet, the 

growing need is being met to bring information together, to analyze it, and to indicate appropriate action. Fortunately, we have the technology regarding member engagement optimization to meet the challenges. 

Those solutions combine member analysis, lodge management, and leadership optimization capabilities to assist lodge officers shape and refine lodge approaches to smart lodge member service, engagements, and loyalty. Those capabilities are just as effective in monitoring and managing re-shaped aspects of good lodge business practices, as they are in helping lodge officers decide what needs to be changed in the first place. It’s essential that our lodge officers need to constantly be looking for ways to deliver quality member service using a full range of devices and channels. We no longer can depend on only one source when so many modern sources are available. 

3-Moving Member Service From Better To Smarter-The goal of smart lodge member service is to provide appropriately designed strategies, processes, accessible and reliable contact channels, and effective or motivated lodge officers to bring everything together as an integrated, seamless, smooth, and consistent whole. It’s crucial to change our local attitudes and help ourselves transform lodge member engagements in today’s service environment. If our lodges don’t deliver what are members or potential members are looking for, then other organizations will. Moreover, our local member engagement optimization solutions need to produce unique opportunities and create:

A-Smart Moments: The understanding of why members are contacting/communicating with our lodge officers and for the lodge officers to anticipate member wants, desires, and needs. Without really listening, and not just hearing our members/potential members speak, we run the risk of not growing our lodges or losing our current members. Therefore, “smart moments” are crucial to any lodge.

B-Policies Of Smart Lodge Workforces: Balancing the business, philosophical, and ritual education of our lodge officers with the needs of our members/potential members while intelligently scheduling and training them to address those requirements. This process begins when a lodge officer is first appointed to a place in the lodge, and continues through the officer line but doesn’t stop even after he has served as a Worshipful Master. I.E., we are looking at a life long journey.

C-Engaged Lodge Officer Workforces: Determine and provide the right tools to accomplish any tasks that assist in increasing member and lodge officer satisfaction through constant and effortless engagements. 

If we adhere to these and other positive methods of improving our lodges and lodge officer corps, it will help any local lodge know, empower, and connect with both members and skilled lodge officers to deliver better outcomes with less effort. The end result will then be a heightened lodge engagement, enhanced loyalty, and an improved efficiency in delivering smart lodge member service.

Communication and Trust
Created: 8/28/2016

Masonic Connections Featured Writer
Brother John Loayza
Assistant Grand Chancellor
Grand Lodge Leadership Committee
Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. &  A.M. 

John Loayza, Assistant Grand Chancellor
Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M.

Communication and trust equals a lodge engagement policy, and is a basic platform for all lodges. However, we need to understand who are the engaged lodge members, and how any specific lodge brands or images drive them towards that engagement.

Engaged lodge members can be recognized because they are the advocates of a specific lodge brand/image. They are the members who are constantly tweeting or posting about their lodge, lodge officers, and lodge activities for both the members, their families and communities. They write the reviews and tell their friends or acquaintances about a specific lodge. I.E., they endorse the positives of a lodge, tend to be very loyal, vocal, and are very valuable advocates. Although it varies from academic or business study to study of groups , these members, in any specific organization, tend to be around 25% of the total membership. They represent the real promoters and member relationship growth spark plugs of organizations, compared to the average lodge member. Even though every member has the potential to become actively engaged, lodge officers need to develop a strategic approach, beginning with highly member centric communications. Let’s look at just 3 elements of engagement:

1-COMMUNICATION-Today’s connected members expect lodge communications to be about them. I.E., the value a lodge provides to its members. Excellent and progressive lodge officers realize that it’s not just talking to members that’s going to build or strengthen a lodge, rather, it’s about listening to and developing value programs for the lodge members that makes a positive difference in overall growth.

Our younger generation of members want conversations and programs that provide an overall appreciation of Masonry’s Principles, History, Ritual, Brotherhood, and Relationships (Family, Community, Lodge, and Social). However, they expect those elements to be more centered around their wants, needs, experiences, and feelings. Thus, they want to feel valued and have conversations or communications to be human and personal. Thus, good communications is a process that is ongoing and between friends. Like education, it never ends. 

Unfortunately, some lodges and lodge officers follow old and strict approaches with their members. They haven’t adapted to the changes that have been made or are continually being made in this century. Our thinking processes and actions are different from by gone eras so it’s no wonder that some lodges have problems of membership growth or lodge loyalty. Moreover, some lodge officers have forgotten that today’s younger members are more educated, travel more, are globally connected, and are human beings with emotions and needs that need to be satisfied.

Communication is the foundation stone of trust. Lodge members need to feel that their opinions matter, that they are being heard, and that their issues are a priority with the lodge officers. If lodge officers engage in personalized, real time conversations, and actually listen to what the members are saying, lodge officers can then lead the members towards the path of positive engagement.

2-TRUST-Member trust will not suddenly happen overnight. It’s the result of consistent positive experiences with lodge officers who have a progressive attitude, and develop a positive lodge brand/image that is recognized by all. 

Lodge officers need to remember that current or potential lodge members have more choices than ever before, and they have an unprecedented level of influence over others. Lodge brands and activities need to be fully understood and demonstrated that they deliver consistent quality member service as a top priority, in order to increase member loyalty. Therefore, consistency is an essential part in the development of trust with lodge members.

As progressive lodge officers go through the lines, they will develop additional skills in growing their lodges, and need to get to know their members better. Furthermore, they will feel more personally invested in the lodge process, and the members will feel more connected to the lodge brand/image as trust continues to be developed. 

3-ENGAGEMENT-Although some non progressive or non modern thinking lodge officers think that member engagements can’t be measured, analyzed or aren’t a necessary priority, yet, engaged lodge members are highly visible and necessary for any lodge’s future. Those engaged lodge members are the lodge advocates and loyal friends of all lodges. 

Engaged lodge members are the ones currently investing more time and effort in promoting their specific lodges. Moreover, they also are consistently writing reviews, conversing with others, tweeting and posting their experiences with friends and peers. This is also what happens in any business or fraternal organization. 

Brethren, engagement may seem like a challenging concept to analyze, but just look towards your most visible lodge members to see what engagement looks like, and truly listen to what they are saying. 
Lodge Member Journeys & Meaningful Engagements
Created: 8/2/2016

Masonic Connections Featured Writer
Brother John Loayza
Assistant Grand Chancellor
Grand Lodge Leadership Committee
Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. &  A.M. 

John Loayza, Assistant Grand Chancellor
Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M.

In every century, we experience new challenges, rules, and technology. These processes don’t suddenly happen, they are a slow process of positive and experimental changes. However, we now see more changes because of the rapid development of technology which affects everyone, every business or fraternal organization. There are more demanding younger members with less time coming into our lodges than in past decades. Ergo, their journeys need to be more meaningful, and those lodges that can continually establish positive member engagements will be the ones that will have sustainable growth. Unfortunately, we see far too many lodges that have not yet found that secret formula of achieving it. Why not, is the question we continually ask ourselves? Here are a few reasons to consider:

1-You Are Not The Boss-The younger generation of members are now in the driver’s seat. They are more digitally connected, socially networked, better informed than many of their senior lodge members, therefore, are savvier and more sophisticated than their predecessors. Our younger members source most of their information from third parties, especially through the internet before they join a lodge. They also expect that every new interaction or engagement will be personalized, and occur within the context of the last one. Since their tolerance for fragmented experiences is lower than previous generations, the younger generation of members is very much in control of their own journey, while the lodge is responsible for positive engagements. 

2-Time For Advanced Thinking-This is very difficult for many lodge officers or senior members who have not spent any time investing in technology or not using good business practices in managing or developing their lodges. They have not established processes to manage a progressive member relationship, general lodge member motivation programs, lodge officer educational and training programs or other progressive lodge business models. 

What can we do? It’s time to rid ourselves of old lodge business models. The modern member journey is an amorphous. I.E., It spans across various channels and touch points. Therefore, each member journey is unique. No matter what, younger members will vary their process each time, based on what is most convenient at the moment.

3-Modern Member Journey-This journey begins with awareness, then to advocacy, and varies with each member, depending on each member’s needs. Many of the old lodge business models were based on the idea that members always moved in long linear progressions from awareness, to interest, desire, and action in orchestrated steps by the lodge officers. We all need to understand that we are now in a much faster paced world and are running to keep up with it. Thus, lodges must deliver consistent, innovative, and interesting activities or engagements to keep members focused on their lodges.

4-Awareness-We need to ask ourselves, when does a member journey begin? Actually, it doesn’t begin when an individual comes to a Masonic Temple with an enquiry or a visit of a website. It actually begins when an individual first becomes aware that he has a need. There are a variety of sources that create that magical moment. Some lodges can control those situations by stimulating an individual’s needs but other needs the lodge can’t control.

5-Discovery-Potential members are constantly evaluating options at high levels. Their research is usually light and focused on their own needs rather than a specific lodge. Thus, anything from a quick website search to a casual conversation with peers. Potential members try to gather general lodge information, what it’s engaged in doing, and the specific requirements to join. Therefore, they are considering both their specific needs and potential ways to satisfy them.

6-Interest-During an interest phase, potential members use an extensive network in order to gather all their options and data so they can evaluate which options/lodges to omit. I.E., the data will determine if any Masonic Lodge is what they really want to join. It can also be that they might only use the lodge in order to join an “Appendant Masonic Body” or another non Masonic organization. Thus, this phase considers all possible options and narrows them down to a short list for an eventual decision to join either Masonry or a specific lodge or nothing at all.

7-Consideration & Action-Here the potential candidate launches himself into a “Consideration Phase,” and makes his final decision. However, this phase can vary in length, depending on the size of his list and the number of key decision criteria he is using to evaluate one lodge over another. If the candidate finds one lodge that has good fellowship, programs not only for the members, but also for his family, and seems to be dynamic, these factors are essential in his decision making. This all leads to an “Action Phase” when the decision, to join one lodge over another, is made. Thus, the basis for a decision is how well a lodge does in selling and marketing itself to potential and to current members. Therefore, lodge officers need to remember that any changes that this century has, and continues to make, definitely puts potential younger candidates and current members into the driver’s seat. 

8-Use-In this phase, potential members are now new current lodge members because they made a decision to join a specific lodge, and are actively involved in satisfying their needs. This then becomes the longest part of the member journey when members form their respective decisions of a lodge and decide whether or not their decision and the lodge brand promises have truly been fulfilled. Moreover, this phase is essential to develop a specific lodge loyalty, and is the basis for setting the stage for positive member advocacy.

9-Advocacy-This phase of the journey can be very quick and might be interspersed among the other phases. Here is when members share their good and bad opinions either on line or face to face. The opinions are generally based on experiences or engagements during the “Consideration and Use Phases.” Thus, the “Advocacy Phase” should be a recognized or critical part of any lodge growth strategy. 

All lodge officers need to remember that old saying that “one size doesn’t fit all.” The various phases of the member journey don’t change, and neither do their attributes. What does change is the percentage of time that members spend in each of the phases, the level of engagement within each phase, and the length of the overall journey. Remembering these factors, will help lodge officers map out their member’s journeys.

Now let’s look at additional brief guides to a successful member management journey, because we find that today’s lodge members are very tech-savvy, are always connected and expect information or service from many media sources. How is this happening? The answer is through social media which has given members a voice which enables them to criticize or to promote a lodge or any other organization in an instant. The steps include:

1-Understanding Each Interaction-In order to make sense of the end to end aspect of a member’s journey, it’s important to take a step back and understand and see the overall picture of what makes up a member experience. 

All organizations, not only “Masonic Lodges” are attempting to increase member engagements by using all forms of communication channels. I.E., lodge websites, lodge Facebook Pages, Twitter, Instagrams, etc. No matter what forms of communications are used, it’s important for the lodge officers to understand the impact of each on member experience or engagement. When we integrate all interactions into a member journey map, we begin to see a culture of member centricity within the lodge. Then the lodge officers truly begin understanding the real member journey in its entirety.

2-Connecting The Multi-Channel Journey-As lodge officers collect key touch point information, this will enable them to move to the next phase in optimizing their member journey maps by connecting interactions or engagements of the members and their lodge. Those member identities and behaviours across each touch point form a more complete view of the multi-channel journey at both the individual member and aggregate levels.

Therefore, intuitive and holistic understanding of the journey or engagement experiences yields analysis of the engagement flows, patterns, and trends. It will also highlight pain points that need to be understood for any lack of success. Thus, the success or failures of a member’s lodge journey or engagements will lead to the foundation of better member engagement programs.

3-Derive Insights-When lodge officers measure and record interactions, the connecting of any data is only half the challenge. Actually, real insights can be derived from the details and emotions behind the lodge journey or engagements. 

Lodges need to use more sophisticated analytics or analysis that can unlock both structured traditional data, such as actual transactions of events, along with unstructured data such as speech or texting of information. This combination of the two forms will then provide crucial insights into member journeys or meaningful lodge engagements. 
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