group management in a pandemic, good group management

Holding it together in a Pandemic: How to keep Group Engagement high right now

Good group management means different things on different days

It’s been a tough year for group meetings. We all know this. We’re all in different places right now and the lack of unified strategy among the states or clarity in vision from the top leadership has been….a lot to bear witness to. According to the New York Times, “Case numbers remain persistently high across most of the country.” It’s becoming more and more clear that things aren’t going to go “back to normal” for the foreseeable future. In terms of group management in a pandemic and what it means to be a leader right now, this liminal phase of semi-quarantine is understandably difficult to navigate.

How to nail good group management in a pandemic

We all of course want to follow good practices around distancing and flattening the curve. Otherwise, how will we get out of this mess, right? But what does putting normal operations on hold look like for groups that rely heavily on in-person meetings and activities? How can members feel belonging and community when meeting in person just isn’t feasible or responsible? How can leaders keep engagement and involvement high from afar?

6 tips for keeping the community together from a distance

We have some thoughts.

1.Commit to timely and transparent communication:

Hopefully this one is obvious. With many members juggling some combination of homeschooling, telecommuting, financial hardship, and health related anxiety, leaders shouldn’t rely on members to track them down. Being as open and direct as possible about how the group plans to adjust around all of these external stressors and roadblocks is imperative to keeping trust high right now. Set a communication goal that makes sense for your group- don’t let a week or two go by without a word from the leaders on what’s happening currently.

2. Get your tech to do the heavy lifting:

if you haven’t already streamlined your online presence, now is really a great time to do it. Anything you ordinarily handle with paper and printouts can be uploaded to a document repository. Instead of relying on chaotic email threads to be the communications work horse for the group, find an app that combines multiple group management functions into one. The online community experience should feel streamlined, pleasant, and cohesive. Remove the barrier of bad tech and give people the opportunity to stay engaged.

3. Amp up your outreach:

leaders may need to spend extra time directly reaching out to members. Certain long-standing groups might benefit from pairing old guard members up with newer members. This gives veteran group members a direct way to be ambassadors for newer members, and newer members the care they need to stick with the group from a distance. Don’t let folks who were JUST assimilating into the fabric of the group before the pandemic disappear by not doing enough to keep them in the mix.

4. Use online meetings WISELY:

Moving meetings online has become a no-brainer during this period. It’s highly accessible for most people, provides a semblance of structure and normalcy, and as a bonus implies a pajamas-from-the-waist down dress code. But there are drawbacks that I’m sure we’re all familiar with at this point. Zoom fatigue is real. Avoid overly long meetings, and certainly avoid scheduling too many meetings that have little point. You might provide some tips and guidelines to members about Zoom etiquette. For example, always mute your microphone when you’re not speaking in order to avoid the overlapping chatter of background noise amongst everyone involved in the meeting.

5. Rely heavily on your online community:

If group activity is flagging, get creative. Social media takeovers are a great way for members to stay in touch with each other outside of meetings. Give members rotating opportunities to post to the groups online accounts and be clear in the prompt to keep things on track. It doesn’t have to directly relate to the group’s mission- remember, this is about keeping members feeling connected to one another. Even having members take turns showing off what they’re doing with their summer evenings or what their families favorite food traditions are are great ways to keep everyone looped in.  Other ideas include photo contests and open-ended questions to get people talking about what they are reading/watching/listening to currently.

6. Volunteer:

this can be in person or from afar depending on what makes sense for your group. Food banks, the American Red Cross, and other organizations particular to your community are likely looking for people that they can put to work right now. Check out your local United Way for volunteering options in your town.

Good group management in a pandemic has provided a big opportunity for growth for group leaders everywhere. We cannot emphasize enough how important and life giving it can be to use this time to the benefit of the group- if there are processes that have been clunky and outdated for years- document sharing, decision making, and remote communication for example- consider using this time to rip the bandaid and rev up your group management strategies to be streamlined and made simple using online tools. For more, check out our homepage.

Happy Grouping,

The Team at Groupeasy

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