Thursday, April 21, 2011

If I Can't Convince You...Then I Won't Enlist Them

After going to a recent coalition meeting, it became apparent that the level of buy-in from the members at the table was low to non-existent.  Every cue--body language, facial expressions, engagement level and talking--conveyed the message that several people would have preferred to be anywhere but at that meeting.  Unfortunately, I couldn't blame them for feeling and acting that way because after meeting for close to a year...they still have not bought into the idea of a coalition.

Good Intentions Doesn't Mean Action

Now, I'm sure that everyone around the table had good intentions when they first went into this venture.  After all, the idea that a community would ban together to share resources and address issues like underage drinking, gang violence, and substance abuse is exciting and under the right conditions would be able to accomplish alot.  This idea is probably what has kept many of them coming back each month...hoping for the ball to get rolling and making that difference.  However, just because they have good intentions doesn't mean that they know what to do to make it work.   That's where creating a plan that has a clear vision about where it sees the community in the future, a mission that focuses on how the vision can be reached & what areas to address, and objectives that provide specific actions, details and timeline, is a key component.  Each item takes time to create but like all good structures, is the foundation that supports everything else.

Getting on the Same Page

How can they get on the right track?  A few ideas include:

Take responsibility - Putting together a coalition is a lot of hard work and takes time.  Being able to have constructive discussions about the downsides as well as the upsides can help everyone reconnect to their reasons for being there and help avoid making some of the same mistakes going forward. 

Get a Consensus - Take another look at the vision and mission statement and make sure that everybody is in agreement and working towards the same goals.  Be sure to know that the issues and problems the group is trying to address really exist, what is being done by others, and where the group can have the greatest impact.    Be sure to revisit these items periodically to help keep everybody on the same page.

Assign Work - Get people involved in the work.   Don't be afraid to ask others to do some of the heavy lifting.  Everything from writing agendas and minutes, sending emails, making calls, finding data, creating brochures and flyers is fair game.   The more people are engaged and active, the more they will feel a part of the work and accomplishing the mission.

In the end, it will be the hard work, desire, and buy-in of the members that is going to drive the work of the group.  They will need to be 100% behind and a part of the group in order to maximize all opportunities from public relations, recruitment, donations, outreach and advocacy.  So...if you can't convince them, you won't enlist others.


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