BLOG POST 4:
COMMUNITY APPROACHES TO MENTAL HEALTH
Setting Up Your Action Team
I cannot emphasise this step enough. It seems like we are always creating new teams or committees but the importance of an effective team cannot be overlooked. This is critical in order to ensure sustainability, maximise effectiveness and avoid burnout for individuals. Life is so busy these days and time is precious so when individuals put their hand up to join a team we want to ensure their time is valued, their opinions are heard and a sense of satisfaction and belonging are emphasised.
With something as important as mental health on the agenda, it is crucial to have a well set up team. Taking the time that is needed to set up clear protocols for respecting one another, for communicating and for making decisions can mean the difference between success or failure. It is imperative to spend time ensuring that you have all the elements of a successful team before you move forward to implementing change so that change is long-lasting and sustainable.
I believe, from my own experience as a Chairperson and co-founder of a Community Mental Health Action Team along with numerous teams, that there are a few important things to include to ensure success for your team:
# Clear vision & use of an Implementation Ladder approach
# Effective processes and strategies within the meetings
(including the need for a passionate Chairperson)
# Enjoyable/positive meetings as well as productive
# Use of consensus strategies for decision making
Below are some examples and explanations of how I use each of these elements in meetings that I have run successfully in order to implement change.
- Clear Vision & Use of an Implementation Ladder Approach
Begin any new team with a session focused only on identifying the purpose and the protocols for working together.
Although you may or may not have already worked together, this is an opportunity to clearly define how you will have a successful working relationship in this setting.
Avoid telling your team the purpose and protocols for working together.
Instead conduct a brainstorm or consensus process to identify the agreed upon items.
- Effective Processes & Strategies within the Meetings
It is essential to choose the role of Chairperson carefully. Ensure you have someone who is passionate about the area of change and can lead and drive the initiative effectively. This person is not responsible for actioning everything. Instead they are the person that maintains the momentum and keeps the key areas for development on the agenda for discussion and action.
Make use of a “Park It” document (see FREE resource for a copy). You want to avoid meetings dragging longer than intended, but team members often have great ideas come to mind during the meeting unrelated to the agenda items. A “Park It” document provides the opportunity to record these great ideas as they come to mind for upcoming meetings.
- Enjoyable/Positive Meetings as Well as Productive
People are busy. When they give up their time voluntarily to attend important, extra meetings we want to ensure that we value their time and make it as enjoyable as possible while still being productive.
We all know how frustrating it is to walk away from a meeting feeling like nothing has been achieved or that all that has happened is discussion around a topic. Do not overcrowd the agenda. Instead have 1 or 2 clear outcomes for the meeting and aim to reach an agreement rather than simply discuss the options in a roundabout manner.
Don’t be afraid to add a little fun to meetings. It only needs to be brief, but after a long day at work a little humour or a bowl of choccies can make a meeting a little easier to take (see FREE resource for some ideas)
- Use of Consensus Strategies For Decision Making
It is important as Chairperson to get opinions from team members, but also imperative that decisions are made in order to maintain momentum.
Use a variety of consensus strategies (see FREE resource for ideas) in order to reduce boredom and ensure all team members get an opportunity to have their opinions heard (not just the vocal members)
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