We have all kinds of encouragement to build relationships from our boards, funders and coalition supporters. Occasionally, we will hear that we should “sustain” or “maintain” relationships. While both of these are important, we also need to talk about what happens in the “messy middle” of relationships that is critically important to maintain them. In order for relationships to grow and continue, we must spend time nurturing the relationships – both new and old. Join me this week for three ways to nurture your coalition relationships.
If someone new attends one of your meetings, send a quick email, text or phone call to get feedback on the experience. If you haven’t seen some of your coalition members for a while, reach out with a brief “check in” message. When someone tells you something important to them, make a note to yourself to follow-up. For instance, if one of your partners shares that they have a big event coming up, make a note in your calendar or planner to find out how it went. Little messages and considerations go a BIG way to nurturing coalition relationships. When you take the time to check in, you show that you care. When you show you care, you nurture the relationship!
One of the important roles of a facilitator and a coalition leader is to provide encouragement to our participants. When a coalition member shares her perspective or gives input to a project, Providing words of affirmation and sincere appreciation are another way to nurture relationships. “Thank you” – “We appreciate your thoughtful contribution” – “I am really glad you shared that idea” – “This is important for us to consider” are examples of encouragement. Depending upon the person, the method and approach will differ. Some of our coalition members appreciate large-group encouragement while others would prefer one-on-one appreciation. As we get to know our coalition members, we will be able to recognize the differences and learn to encourage in ways that will be received as encouragement. I am learning this lesson as a parent. My daughter is easily embarrassed when people draw attention to her (is not a fan of the happy birthday song for this reason). She would greatly prefer one-on-one encouragement.
Once you have invited someone to participate and you have checked-in with them, find meaningful ways for them to engage in the coalition. After listening, if you can give specific suggestions based on their areas of interest and skills and your needs as a coalition, they will be more likely to engage with you and the coalition. Once people are engaged, you nurture your relationship and create opportunities for other coalition members to nurture relationships with one another. More engagement also supports the collective work of the coalition. Once people have been engaged for a while, it’s always a good idea to “check in” again to see if this is the right fit or if they would prefer to participate in other ways.
So what about you? Which of these three – check in, encourage or engage – would you like to practice this week to nurture your coalition relationships?
If you liked today’s post, you will also be interested in my free resource: 10 Partnership Pitfalls and How to Overcome Them. Download here!