Less entropy, more symphony..
So you’re starting a group, or taking on a leadership role in an established group! Congratulations! You’re now immediately looking for ways to be effective in this new venture, and to use everyone’s time efficiently. You want to capitalize on the group buzz to get everyone’s energy and talents pointed in the right direction. Think: Less dysfunction, more flow. Less cat rodeo, more Beethoven’s Fifth. The same things will work if you’re taking on a leadership role in an existing group. You’ll want to address any weaknesses you find in group processes, but keep what’s working. Group Management can help here…
Fact: we all have limited time and energy resources.
How can you streamline things so that everyone can be free to connect and organize around the goals of the group? Which things can you take care of on the front end so that people don’t get bogged down in energy-draining housekeeping tasks? How can you share where information is kept and when events are happening? What is the best way to communicate who’s doing what and the deadline and who has anybody taken the reigns on X initiative? Oh, and by the way, who’s turn is it to bring snacks next time?
You’ll want to plan for the 7 core activities of effective group management right out of the gate:
You’ll need to consider how your group will stay in touch. The answers to this will look different, based on the size of your group. Is there a way for sub-groups to work together? Consider having a dedicated forum so group members to have dialogue with one another. Planning ahead will keep disparate threads of conversation from slipping through the cracks. Let the record speak!
Are there a few key members that steer the vision and planning for the group, or is it more democratic? Think about the types of choices your group regularly makes. How can you clarify this process for your members? Having a consistent transparent process allows people to feel respected. It also gives people confidence that their ideas are valued. Consider HOW your group will make choices. Clarity here avoids the pitfalls of group politics, aka the tyranny of the loudest talker.
3. Coordinate resources/ tracking activities
Next, how will you provide opportunities for your group members to contribute to the ongoing activities of the group? Having a centralized and easy-to-navigate sign-up is vital. Good leaders divide to conquer. Allowing people to choose the way they contribute creates responsibility and a feeling of inclusion. Practically, this will also help to build accountability. Transparency typically motivates people to follow through with their commitments.
4. Schedule events
All organizations need to schedule events, track the details of the event, and remind participants. Most groups use some type of calendaring tool. Groups that function well use scheduling tools that allow members to have easy access. These tools also allow group leaders to send reminders and track event attendance.
5. Collect and archive documents and images
Collecting stuff is just part of what people do! So, reasonably, groups have stuff, too. Your group may have bylaws, agendas, minutes, and action items, or simply photos of past events. Regardless of what it is and how much there is of it, there will be stuff. As an effective group leader, consider how to organize the group document archive so that everyone has easy access. Cut down on unnecessary confusion and redundant messaging by having an organized place for the stuff.
6. Manage Membership
Successful groups have an ongoing way to cull and track current membership. Who is still active, and who is not? Is there an efficient pathway for new members to be on-boarded? Membership management is part of effective group leadership because it directly effects communication. No current member should miss an email because of a stale member list.
7. Promote/energize the group
Is your group interested in actively GROWING, for example a community advocacy or social justice group? Or, does your group have a fix number of members, for example a dinner club? You’ll be well served to consider group dynamics in advance, in any case. What vehicle, perhaps a public or private homepage, will you use to promote your goals and your group? Effective group leadership will keep current and prospective members informed and energized!
Harnessing the energy…
Effective group management provides the processes and tools to for these 7 activities. There is, however, nothing magic about processes or technology. Magic happens because people in the group feel a sense of belonging. Big magic happens because barriers to ‘belonging’ are removed. Bigger magic happens because ideas flow and energy is channeled! Addressing these 7 functions upfront will have everyone working in concert!
There are are simple, integrated, secure solutions available.