How to use monthly meetings to boost your community
A year ago, I began implementing monthly video meetings for the Branch Managers of she codes; community. I took the inspiration from an organization I previously worked for.
When I started this initiative, she codes; 40+ physical branches were spread out across Israel. Their teams only met each other face-to-face twice a year, during seminars.
I knew the Branch Managers, all of them volunteers, needed THEIR space. A space for connecting, sharing challenges, exchanging best practices, and asking questions about the organizational procedures. During this year, the internal community proved to be truly valuable, supportive, and practical.
Why did virtual meetings help these community members?
The Branch Managers have a vital role — they run the branches in all aspects: recruiting and managing the team (volunteers), stay in touch with the hosts (i.e., tech companies and universities pre-COVID-19), guide and keep in touch with the women who arrive at the weekly meetings to learn programming, and take care of all the logistics.
Any organization, and especially those heavily relying on volunteers, need to invest in their human resources and give them the tools to do their job in the best way. Moreover, such regular meetings can provide inspiration and collaboration opportunities. The best ideas are theirs. We, as community leaders and facilitators, give them the space and the structure to share them.
Now, nine months following the COVID-19 shift, such dedicated occasional meetings for each role are conducted within all the organizational divisions, since operating remotely emphasized this need more than ever.
How can you best implement this routine?
Identify the need: Ask your community members what they need and identify challenging areas in your community.
Consider your goals: Set the objectives and ask yourself how they are aligned with the organization’s goals. You might want to measure your success in order to approve that your initiative works.
Check out what’s the best way to start your occasional meetings: What’s the focus topic? Who runs them? How often are they?
Dedicate time to arrange the meeting’s content: In many meetings, managers from other divisions in the organization prepare a short training, presentation, or other relevant information. This is very effective, as the participants receive the information they need and get to know the people behind the scenes. Additionally, as we only have one hour each month, we don’t want to waste anybody’s time. it’s crucial to provide defined content and leave enough time for discussion and questions.
Provide instructions to your community members: Explain the meetings’ goals, what items are going to be discussed, and notify the participants if they need to prepare anything in advance.
Receive feedback: Ask the participants whether these meetings are helpful, and what will help them in the future. (Read more about the benefit of feedback here).
Occurring meetings and other rituals can make a difference in your community. Try them out, and if they work – embrace them. Otherwise, don’t be afraid to experiment and try other new routines. Each community has its own dynamics, and staying attentive to these dynamics will help you navigate to the desirable results.