Team Building

 

"As long as you live, keep learning how to live."

“As long as you live, keep learning how to live.”

I’ve been working around a lot of groups of younger activists and there are some that click together on the issues facing the group well, but the inner dynamics could use improvement.

Those who have been around activism longer are likely to have realized moments of success and struggle. We’ve witnessed what works and what has ruined efforts. Some call it wisdom, others “being in the trenches” and “living/surviving the experience”. 

Many who haven’t engaged in movement building leading to social change, simply don’t have realizing moment(s) that they have been the change making a difference. Having something of demonstrated proof is confidence building for everyone in the group – especially when it is a TEAM win that all contributed to in some way. When you’re in a team of volunteers it is crucial for people to know their engagement isn’t less than or more than others – it is simply what they can contribute be it physically, financially, spiritually, or with online reach/coverage. 

One thing I’d encourage for new teams is to set some easy to achieve goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, in space and time (SMART). Get to know the 4Ws and H: who, what, where, why, when, and how. That can be applied in various perspectives: participant, observer, press contact, etc. 

Small steps build confidence quickly.

Stephen Boyle

New teams need to claim a few victories as early as you can and discuss what worked, where improvements could be made, and what steps would lead to those improvements being realized. It doesn’t help to simply be critical of results without providing / listening for constructive responses in process result.

Don’t be a downer, build things UP!

Stephen Boyle
It’ll simply rip a team apart if nothing but negative criticism without solutions are encountered.  If you start hearing that be the change and steer the conversation back to solution based dialogue. Sometimes team members are too wrapped in personal vision, failing to see the win-win of all involved. Some take on huge loads without the real hope of getting it all done ourselves. I’m guilty of this far too often. Others may dabble in smaller tasks they know can be done in 15 minutes or less. Sometimes that limited contribution is key to ensuring something gets done even if it seems insignificant. Distributing big tasks gets everyone a chance to be involved – the concern however is team members taking on commitments as a result of guilt or hero-complex. Realize that nothing taken on is insignificant and should be acknowledged. 

Creating accountability holders for each other is essential on big or key tasks, and helpful for routine tasks. Checking in on progress toward commitments shouldn’t be a chore for either side, it is a sign of progress being made. The role of accountability holder isn’t necessarily to remove burden, sometimes it is discussion of where barriers exist and enabling others perhaps more skilled to address those. The key is to turn challenges into successes, even if it means the whole team got involved – in reality that could be an ideal result.