Action Teams at some point lack the connection, or bond, between members that is necessary to hold the team together during projects. There are clubs where members don't even know each other’s names or only speak to each other during club meetings. If you were to look up the definition for club you would run into something like this:
Club - /KlYb/ Noun: An association dedicated to a particular interest or activity.
And if you were to look up the definition for Action Team you would see this:
Action Team - /EakSHYn/ /t m/ Noun: A team that executes brief performances which are repeated under new conditions.
Your Action Team is more than a club. Its true meaning is far beyond these two definitions. An Action Team should be a group of friends. Better yet, it’s a family who desire to accomplish individual goals to fulfill the group’s purpose.
The following provides a quick insight of how the Greeley Central Green Cats have overcome obstacles that can slow completion of projects and the overall team's goals.
1. Making the Connection
Teams need to become a family and make time to become a family. Many times Action Team members don't know even each other’s name because they aren't given the opportunity to do so. A great and common activity is the name game at the first few meetings or when there's a new member. Performing fun team building activities at the beginning of the year will help create a bond between the new members and the experienced members.
Another important instrument in making connections is to have fun! During meetings tell jokes, share stories, play games, have meeting themes and see who can best represent it. For example, if the meeting's theme is crazy shirt day then award the member who has the craziest shirt. Outside of the meetings, try having a party at least once a month for socializing and/or celebrating the completion of a project. Be creative!
2. Equality Between Officers and Members
To be honest, team officers can be intimidating. Fear towards officers can develop very easily and can prevent members from voicing their opinions. The club can make little changes to avoid this by making everyone feel comfortable with each other so when they walk in they feel motivated to make a difference. Hanging out outside of the meetings is a great start to build comfort between everyone. Mix it up by hanging out at the park, watching a movie, eating out together and having team parties.
The set-up of the meetings is also very important, because you want to cultivate a friendly environment during the meeting. Avoid the classic classroom lecture set up - the officer(s) or teacher sponsor(s) located in front of the room and the only ones talking. By sitting in a small, tight circle or any other form of set up, it allows everyone to speak and see each other face-to-face. Also everyone should sit at the same height to avoid take over by those who are outspoken. If most members are sitting on desks then the rest of the group should sit on desks as well.
Lastly, both officers and sponsors must avoid being demanding. For example, “Liz, you should lead this project” should be said, “Liz, you contain the creativity and experience for this project, would you be willing to lead it?” Intentionally thinking about these issues will decrease the officer intimidation factor within the Action Team. Soon your team will transform from small, multiple groups into one big, cohesive group.
3. Getting Everyone to Participate
Members want to feel involved and valued. It's difficult to complete projects when only a few people are doing all of the work. This burns out the individuals who always participate and everyone else feels left out.
For members who are involved in several activities at school and can rarely make it to your meetings, there should be alternatives for them to stay in touch with what's going on during the meetings or planning of a project they miss. Provide notes from the meetings that are accessible through the web, email, or Facebook. This will ensure that everyone stays informed of the planning process and knows the dates of the projects.
Have one huge project that will get everyone excited. Green Cats recently held an e-waste drive within the school that consisted of educating classes on why recycling electronics is important. The project allowed everyone to perform a skill they contained whether it was speaking and educating the public, organizing and sorting the electronics, or creating outstanding flyers since it contained a variety of positions.
4. Talking but No Action
Setting goals for meetings can increase the productivity within the club. Members should always accomplish something in the meetings. Don't waste several meetings talking about projects and getting caught in details. Planning should only take a meeting to do and after that just start on the project. It's okay if not everything is covered. Mistakes are the best way to learn on how to deal with projects in the future.
Starting the project can be something simple like making a rough draft of a flyer. Member's time will be used wisely if something is completed every time they attend a meeting. Make it easy for group members to participate and don't waste their time by assigning everyone a job. Go with the flow. Lastly, don’t work on projects just to get them finished, but work on them because you're doing something with your friends, your family.
5. Officer Communication
Officers and the teacher sponsor should always be on the same page. Group leadership should be comfortable and exciting. As described early, do teambuilding exercises only involving the leadership team. Another great way is having the officers attend ACE Leadership Trainings. They are a great help and lots of fun. (Looking forward to the next one!). Officers must connect with each other in and outside of the meetings on a regular basis. For example, hold a regular meeting for the entire team, but then have another one where only officers meet. This way they can socialize, laugh, and plan for the next meetings as a group. When possible try to find time to just hang out as friends.
Remember, the key thing is to have fun and be creative! An Action Team is not just an association dedicated to a particular interest or activity or a team that executes brief performances that are repeated under new conditions. They’re big, cohesive families working together to accomplish the group’s greater goals.
Brought to you by the Greeley Central Green Cats. Ivonne Morales (Co-President and Colorado Youth Rep), Fransisco Alvarado (Co-President), Jazmin Vega (Social Coordinator), Karla Flores (Public Relations), Percy Lawrence (Secretary)