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Partnership Pitfall #5: Self interest vs. Group Interest

Happy Thanksgiving! This week’s post can apply to our coalition work and our family dynamics as well. 🙂 Coalition building is all about finding “win-win” opportunities for your coalition members and the coalition’s purpose. In order to attract organizations to be part of a coalition, there need to be clear benefits for each organization to participate. However, if specific organizations consistently focus on their own organizational interest above what is best for the entire coalition, then the coalition will be unable to effectively work together. This can be a particularly discouraging pitfall to coalition leaders and other coalition members who feel like other organizations may be contributing only to pursue their own agenda. This can lead to distrust and disengagement which can be devastating for a coalition!  Here are three recommendations in how to begin to overcome the pitfall “self interest vs. group interest.”

  1. Recognize it. This may not be difficult but it’s important as a coalition leader to recognize when it is happening. Ask questions to clarify intention and help understand when the self-interest may be overshadowing the group’s interest. Also, pay attention to non-verbal reactions during coalition meetings (can be virtual – as long as they are showing their videos!)
  2. Address it. Take time to meet with the organization(s) who appear to be demonstrating self interest above group interest. This needs to be a conversation more than an email or text message. Prior to the meeting, review your coalition’s purpose and priorities and develop notes on examples of areas that may be concerning as well as the positive aspects of that coalition member(s) involvement. If you haven’t yet downloaded my worksheet on overcoming the 10 partnership pitfalls, check it out here to help you with some specific approaches and ideas.
  3. Clearly communicate expectations. After you have met with this organization, it is important to follow-up with the organization(s). Send an email highlighting the discussion and the next steps from the discussion in order to help prevent this from happening again. Also, find a way to communicate expectations overall as a coalition to help prevent this from happening with other organizations in the coalition. This communication is not intended to direct “blame” toward any organization but to clarify expectations based on areas of confusion, competition or challenge collectively.

So what about you? What has worked for you in addressing coalition members who have focused on self-interest above group interest?

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