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Partnership Pitfall #2: Overcommitted

If you are leading a coalition, there are likely many more needs than you, your staff and your coalition can meet. Part of the reason you are doing this work is because you want to help people and make a difference. Do you find that you cannot follow-up on your existing commitments? Do you look at each week or month and wonder how you will be able to accomplish your coalition “to-do” list? Do you feel pressure to take on additional priorities in order to please your coalition members and keep them engaged? If your staff and members are attempting to address multiple different priorities at the same time and you are all feeling overwhelmed, you are likely overcommitted. So what do you do? Join me this week in considering four questions to ask when you are overcommitted as a coalition.

  1. Are all of these activities aligned with our purpose (see Partnership Pitfall #1 from last week)? It is important to pause, reflect and review all of the work you are doing as a coalition and evaluate whether the activities you are focused on clearly align with your clear purpose. Similar to cleaning out a closet, you may initially have three “buckets” of activities. The first will be those activities that you know definitely align with your purpose and you know that you need to be doing right now as a coalition. The second will be activities that you think may be aligned but may not be the most important areas to focus on right now. The third will be those activities that you can “give away.” These may be activities that could be implemented by other organizations or these may be activities that you no longer need to be doing as a coalition.
  2. What are the top 1-3 priorities right now for our coalition? Yes, I am encouraging you to consider only 1-3 priorities! As coalition leaders, we often think we need to have 1-3 priorities within each of our workgroups, teams or networks. Unless you have several staff members who are able to be dedicated to each area, it is really important to choose. If you have three workgroups, begin by choosing one priority for each workgroup. Once you accomplish that work, you can move to another priority. It is SO easy to be overcommitted when you take on too many priorities. Even though it may seem possible when you initially say “yes,” there are usually thousands of details that are involved in the implementation, evaluation and follow-up that take more time than you initially expect.
  3. What are some activities that could be implemented or led by other organizations? As you reflected on the question in #1 on activities related to your purpose, these are the ones that fall in the second “bucket.” You see that they may be aligned with your purpose but they may not be what is most important right now. These may also be those activities and priorities that are important but not part of your “top 1-3” that you considered in question #2.  Rather than continuing to be overcommitted, consider other organizations who may find this as a “win-win” opportunity!
  4. What are some activities that could be implemented at another time? You may have some activities that align with your purpose but are not part of current 1-3 priorities. These may be activities that other organizations are not able to implement at this time but may be interested in implementing in the future. Even though there are often more needs than capacity at any time, if you are going to achieve collective success on your biggest goals, keep your staff and coalition engaged and recruit new people to your coalition, you have to choose some activities that will not be implemented in order to prevent your coalition from staying overcommitted. 

So what about you? What are you going to do this week to move away from being overcommitted as a coalition?

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