NE Technology Community Leaders Message Board › Finding & Building Community Leadership Team
1) Finding NEW people to help run your community group
Leaders are everywhere. They actually show up for most meetings. In many cases you just need to ask. However, you have to ask the right way. If there is someone that attends your group meetings on a regular cadence, go ahead and ask them to do something that needs to be done. Initially this should be small tasks that they can do with little or no direction. Then as time goes on give them more things that require more responsibility. Some of these initial tasks may be as simple as
a) Making sure all guest sign in
b) Greeting and PERSONALLY welcoming the new guests
c) Passing out literature or evaluations
d) Collecting business cards for the drawing
e) Monitor the Pizza and Soda table
f) Any other task that can be done during the meeting
After you successfully get a new leader engaged with "running the meeting" then it is time to put them on other tasks. The harder tasks should not be given out until there is a strong commitment by the individual. Some tasks may include:
a) Doing internet research a couple days before the meeting to come up with "What's in the News" for the topic of your user group
b) If you know they are going to a conference, you might want them to ask a speaker if he would mind speaking for a local user group … this may require some coaching.
c) Lookup "companies" name and phone number that may be good prospects for getting sponsors. DO NOT HAVE THEM CONTACT COMPANIES YET!! This is a task for a more seasoned and committed leader. The only exception might be if one of them is someone they have a personal relationship with.
d) Investigate places where a future event might be held. (Theater, Hotel, School, Training Facility, Corporate Office, etc) You will likely need to give them instructions. Make sure you make it clear that they should only spend about 4 hours doing the research so they do not get buried right away.
2) Getting people on your leadership team to do more
Be careful! There will always be people that "want to lead" but simply do not have the time or internal commitment to make it happen. You have to walk softly to keep them engaged. You never know what is going on with an individual leader. They may be wrapping up a major project or deployment and they are working 100 hours a week. They may be on the road for months at a time. They may be having work or family problems such as relationship, medical, financial or whatever. You need to give people the time they need to get to the point where they can contribute. Some issues can take many months to overcome. If they have a track record, keep them around and let them find the time whenever they can. If you have to move on without them, let them know and make sure you leave the door open for future engagement. You can say something like:
"I know you are busy right now and you do not really have any time to contribute to the group. That is fine, take whatever time you need and when you do have time to contribute please let me know. In the meantime, I do not want you to feel any additional pressure from us so if it is ok with you, I will take you off the leadership list until you do have about 4 hours a month you can dedicate to the group. Does that sound ok?"
Perhaps this sentence needs some work we can brainstorm it at the meeting :) bottom line, you want to be understanding and passive
3) Decreasing the burden on overworked leaders
Some people "think" they can do more than they can. It is up to us as leaders to monitor what other leaders are volunteering for. It is also important for us to not ask leaders to do more than is reasonable for a single person to do in a small amount of time. What is reasonable amount of time? Dan Stolts uses the 4 hour rule. 4 hours per month + meeting time. If you limit task scope to 4 hours a month that is acceptable for most people. If there is a person that can reasonably do more or if there is a special event that requires more activity, perhaps that can be stretched to 8 hours a month. No more time should be requested of any leader if you want to keep that leader engaged for a prolonged period of time. If there are people that end up with more work than this, you should look at reducing the workload on these individuals by changing the due date of the tasks or offloading some of the tasks to other people. If neither of these are viable options, then you need to consider that you do not have the resources to do the task and the task should be scrapped.
4) Increasing Satisfaction of the leaders in the community
Little things make a huge difference. If you have a board meeting make sure the board members feel welcome and appreciated. If you have money make sure you spend some of it on the board.
a) When you get swag, make sure some of it is dedicated to the board. Maybe each month during the board meeting put all "attending" board members name in a jar and pull one name. That person gets to pick something from the swag table before the event. If you get plenty of swag, give out one thing for each board member.
b) Buy engraved name tags for your leaders (after 2 months of service?)
c) Buy a nice polo shirt for your leaders (after 3 months of service, and another at each anniversary?)
d) Make sure they are getting out of the group what they want. In order to do this, you have to know what they want. If you do not know this, just ask. Bring it up at a board meeting. Perhaps even send an email out a week before to give them time to think about it. You want to know 2 things
1. Why are they involved in the user group
2. What they want to get out of the group
If you can answer both of these questions for all of your leaders, and then do things to make sure they are happy, they will stick around.
e) Leaders should be treated as First Class citizens. People that "give to the community" are much more important than people that "consume" what the community gives. Make sure your leaders get treated much better than your member community!
f) It is also OK for your members to see what the leaders are getting out of their involvement in the leadership of the group. It may encourage them to become leaders.
Please contribute your ideas to this discussion and join us on May 31st 2011 to brainstorm more on this topic
Virtualization Group - Boston (www.VirtG.com) is currently at the end of the board term and is looking for a few people to help with the leadership. Anyone interested should reach out to Tim Mangan who is a member of this group and the current president of Virtualization Group Boston.