In coalitions, saying “yes” can be easy, but actually doing the work is much more difficult. Even if you have clarified who is doing what and connected people to meaningful roles, follow-through can be challenging. Common barriers to follow through include: busy schedules, competing priorities, unrealistic expectations of how much time it will take and an attempt to do too many things at once. While you cannot control how people choose to spend their time and whether they overbook their schedules, you can try these three strategies when those in your coalition do not follow-through.
As much as we may prioritize the work of the coalition, most people working with the coalition have other priorities. Although we can become frustrated with the lack of communication, commitment or follow through, taking the time to check in on the person and the task can be a powerful way to support follow through. Depending upon the person, you may want to send an email, a text message or call them. In some situations, the person may need more support and request a brief video chat or in-person meeting. Also, when you take the time to check in, practice asking questions rather than making judgements. 🙂 The goal is to support the relationship and to accomplish the task.
In our coalition work, we can be so accommodating to our volunteers that we are not clear about expectations and deadlines. If someone did not follow-through, was there a specific deadline? Did you clearly describe the task or deliverable? Did they agree? Do they know the level of importance this is to the work of the coalition? As Brené Brown reminds us, “Clear is Kind.” This also applies to our check in with coalition members. We need to be clear and specific about our expectations and our concerns. As leaders, we also need to recognize and admit when we have not been clear and ask for help in communicating more clearly.
Explore other options
As much as we want to practice believing the best in others, sometimes we need to explore other options. If we have coalition members who consistently agree to do something and do not follow through, we need to search for other people who will be able to follow through. In our coalition work, we have passionate people who want to contribute; however, they may not actually have capacity to do the work. We may also need to divide the work into multiple tasks that can be divided among multiple people. Depending upon the complexity of the task or project, funding may be needed to support a contractor or staff member rather than a volunteer.
What has worked best for you in addressing coalition participants who do not follow through?