Group Management failure …
Group Leaders/ Facilitators / Admins are usually not to blame for a Group’s Failure to Thrive! They are conscientious, busy people who know how to get things done. They recognize we are better together as a Group than apart. Good leaders can get the rest of us to affirm shared goals and form into a group. This usually happens through their shear force of will and personality. Overtime, more than good intentions, email and a cell-phone will be needed for a Group to thrive. How many Groups have you known that started with a great deal of enthusiasm to only fizzle over time? How often do people walk away from a group because they did not get the meeting invite? These scenarios occur when Group Management fails.
(In this post we will touch upon some of the primary reasons Groups fail. The order is not intended to be a ranking. Future posts will look at each cause in depth.)
Cause of Failure (1): Inability to manage Group Membership
Ineffective Group Management can result in a lack of membership management. Most Groups start with a leader and a need. Email, phone and text are the available tools and they grow organically. Some people are definitely committed. Some people are trying to decide. Keeping track of who is in and who is out with an email list is difficult. Then, hopefully, the group grows. There is more to it.
Tracking new members and on-boarding them requires diligence and attention to detail. Without this attention and effort, issues can ensue. Someone is left off of a critical meeting invite. Someone else does not get the email with the change in meeting location. More time is needed to on-board new members, send them all the needed documents, and get them added to all the lists. the group will not thrive, without attention to managing and caring for the group members.
Cause of Failure (2): The communication model is ‘command and control’
Command and Control is an ineffective long-term communication strategy. It almost always results in ineffective Group Management. Unfortunately, this tends to be the only option when using single-purpose tools like email, calendars, signup apps, and survey apps. The leader is the one with the email /phone list and possibly a number of accounts to single-purpose apps. They have become the heartbeat of the group, because they have ‘the Access and the List’. Generally, they are not greedy, power-hungry people. They happen to know how things work and where things are. (Effective leaders recognize command and control is not a viable solution for groups. Most would gladly share control if they had the right set of tools.)
Another problem with the ‘command and control’ model arises from changes in leadership. Inevitably, there is a changing of the guard. Finding the next leader is difficult, because all of the accountability resides in one role. Few people want to sign up for all the tasks of the out-going hero. Leadership transition is difficult and time-consuming, even if you can find that special replacement. The out-going leader needs to share account info for all the group accounts. There are lists and documents that must be shared. Inevitably, the new guy will stump his toe on the complexity of the different apps and scattered info. Changes in leadership often spell doom for the group.
Cause of Failure (3): Group Communication is ‘top-down’
The Leader is the one with ‘The List’, so they are de facto responsible for all group communication. The result is a one-way communication flow. Information moves from the Leader to the Group Members. Typically, there is no forum for collaborative discourse outside of physical meetings. (‘Reply All’ to group emails does not constitute a forum for collaboration!) Ineffective Group Management practices stifle the flow of ideas and limit member input.
There are absolutely solutions to this and social media provides a myriad of options. Multi-media posts and links to reference material can bring incredible richness to a discussion. Unfortunately, most Group collaboration tools do not provide these capabilities.
Cause of Failure (4): Everyone is (literally) not on the same page
The start-up period is a very critical time for a group. Foundational ideas are expressed which drive thought and direction. It is vital for the group to capture these ideas to drive clarity and maturity. This can be as simple as a list of bullet points or as complex as a set of by-laws. Over time, the founding ideas are reviewed and updated. It is precisely this iterative process that can go so wrong!
Documents are distributed, updated and redistributed. Often these critical documents ‘live’ on the leader’s hard drive or a folder in the cloud somewhere. Worse still, they may live in email as attachments! While a focused, organized leader may make this work for a while the house of cards will collapse. Versions become jumbled. Members are not clear about the goals/ purpose, so a lack of engagement ensues. Being on the same page is critically important to a new group and it is vital as the group matures.
Cause of Failure (5): No one is clear about ‘the process’
Some groups are very structured, work from agendas, and keep minutes. Other groups are looser, keeping only a Calendar and a set of action items. Many groups fall somewhere in between. Group processes may be good or bad, they may be performed consistently or not. However, every group WILL have processes by which it functions, so members must understand what they are. For example, there will be processes for making decisions, tracking group items, coordinating resources and tracking commitments. As a result, if Members do not understand these processes, the Group will struggle. Who is going to show new Members how things work? Who really understands things well enough to teach someone else? Unclear answers to these questions stem from ineffective Group Management.
An effective Group Management solution addressing these issues exists
Groupizy is an effective group management solution. It addresses the problem areas described above in a simple to use, integrated and secure web-based application. Check out Groupeasy.