How many times have you been to a meeting and you can clearly see that one organization’s agenda is clearly more important than any other organization? How often have you experienced competition among members? When you are convening groups of people around a common purpose, someone needs to provide a neutral forum. In my experience, one of the most critical roles for the coalition to play is to be that neutral forum. When your members can trust that the work of the coalition is focused on collective goals, you will be more successful in engaging your coalition. So how do we create a neutral forum? Join me this week as I highlight three considerations in creating a neutral forum.
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Focus on the purpose
One of the best ways to create a neutral forum is to keep focusing the conversation on the purpose rather than individual agendas. Your coalition members participate in the coalition because the work aligns with their own work and areas of interest. Stay focused on the purpose and the types of goals that can only happen when you work together. This will help your coalition members worry less about competing with one another and become more willing to engage with one another.
When you communicate about your coalition and facilitate meetings, be intentional about involving diverse members. Review your agendas closely. Consider who has been invited to participate in the discussion. Look at your workgroup membership. Consider your approach to decision making. When you intentionally consider how to involve many different groups or organizations in the work of the coalition, you will demonstrate your commitment to a neutral forum.
You have a unique opportunity to let everyone in the coalition take credit for the collective “wins.” Find ways to acknowledge the contribution of many members. Emphasize the importance of the collective work to achieve your goals. Develop communication resources that can be tailored by coalition members. One example is to create a fact sheet or presentation with the coalition’s logo and a placeholder for organizations to include their own logos.
Download my newest free resource where I provide additional guidance on how to develop the skill of creating a neutral forum that will help you keep your coalition engaged.
So what about you? What are you doing as a coalition to create a neutral forum?