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Facilitation: Group that has competition among members

It’s amazing how much competition is possible even among groups and organizations that have very similar helping-oriented missions. When I first started working in public health, I was surprised to find many organizations “competing” with one another providing similar health-related interventions to similar populations. Sometimes organizations didn’t realize or think they were competing with others and other times, they were just trying to “prove” their value so that they could continue to be funded to do the work they are passionate about doing. And competition isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes competition can help us consider how to improve our work in order to better meet the needs of those we serve.
Join me this week as I provide 3 recommendations on how to facilitate a group that has competition among members.

  1. Get to know the members.  Sometimes it may appear that there is competition because there is a lack of clarity on what organizations are really doing.  As a facilitator, it’s important to find a way to really get to know each organization’s priorities, primary audience and planned interventions.  One of the best ways to do this is through key informant interviews which can be in person, over a video chat or a phone call. Although this can be a time consuming process, it can be very helpful for you as a facilitator to gain clarity on what each organization is doing and what is important to them.
  2. Clearly define roles and responsibilities. When it comes to the group dynamic, it is helpful to clearly define roles and responsibilities within the group setting.  Once you have a clear sense of what each organization does and what is important to each organization, it can help you consider a role and responsibility that is particularly beneficial for each member based on what they need for their work and what the group needs to meet the collective goals and objectives. Work with the organizations to determine if your proposed role is a good “fit” for them and then communicate the role of each organization overall. You may have some organizations with expertise in business, resource planning, communication or evaluation. Find out how working with the group can be a “win-win” situation for all. Also, not everyone has to have a unique role in the group. You may want to set the expectation that the role for each group member is to consistently share how their organization’s work can contribute to the overall goal of the group.  
  3. Find a way to promote everyone. One of the best ways to address the competition is to promote everyone’s work! If you are providing opportunities to highlight and spotlight the work of your group members, then the need to compete with one another is somewhat diminished. All organizations need to “prove” their value to their funder, board, bosses, etc. and when you are able to promote and share their work with others, they don’t have to try to find ways to compete with others in order to be seen and heard. Also, find opportunities for other organizations to hear that you have been talking about them – in a good way!  This can promote active engagement and participation in your group and reduce the competition.

So what about you? What have you found to be successful when facilitating groups that have competition among members?

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Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

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