Sunday, July 13, 2014

Talk Derby to Me By Killy from Philly

Sometimes I am lucky to have people who volunteer  to write a blog post about a topic they feel passionately about. Here's Killy from Philly's take on being a better communicator in derby.
“You can never talk too much.” It’s true on the track during a jam but it pays to be smart in how you communicate off the track. Here are some lessons I have learned from my nonprofit management consulting job that is helpful in communicating in a league.
Photo by Tyler Shaw

1. Pick a system and stick with it:
Smoke signals, bat signals, announcement circles, internal website, email blasts, FB posts, yahoo groups, Google hangout, pick your poison whatever it is but stick to it. All official league business should go through a designated system. We all get too many emails, messages, tweets, FB posts, whatever. Add 40-60 league members about tons of derby activities and you’ll get chaos. By all means you should communicate when you’re late to practices just courtesy on FB or text messages. If it’s official business and you expect someone to remember it, you want a conversation or information to be “official”, make it easy on yourself and your league and stick to one.

2. Know the limits of your forum: Emails are great but it’s not for everything. Having a strategy discussion or resolving a personnel issue over email is really not easy. Don’t do it. Do it in person or pick up the phone. Emails are great for posting ideas but not great for back and forth conversations. Same for Facebook, Yahoo group, etc. Doing it right the first time will save you time from misunderstandings later.

3. Have meetings regularly and run them well: Nothing replaces an in-person meeting. It’s hard to schedule. We’re all too busy. But the longer you wait to have a league level meeting, the worst it will be. People will be saving their comments about last year’s fundraiser or whatever. We all want to be heard and feel heard but a league meeting is not always the best time for it. Pick a time period, stick to it, and pick a good facilitator who’ll keep the meeting on topic and moving.

4. Figure out who you should talk to before/when you need to do it:
Do you know who does what in your committees? If you have a marketing question, should you email everyone on the committee or just one person? Do you default to asking the same league leader your questions? If you are unsure, then a league directory might be helpful. And you’re really an overachiever, shoot for a directory with pictures and job description. It will help your league avoid bottlenecks in communication, save your captains/league/committee chairs so many messages and everyone some frustration. I promise.

5. Conduct annual anonymous surveys: In my work with non-profits, it’s valuable in having an opportunity for everyone to give feedback where they feel like it will be heard and without judgment. There will be some complaining but a lot of that can be managed with the questions and way you report it back. The benefits outweigh the negatives. It helps air out frustrations before they fester into drama, creates buy-in, focus on priorities when the league is running a thousand activities at once. In derby, as it does in real life, we’re often too busy putting out the latest fire. Sometimes the long term strategic stuff gets put on the backburner. This exercise will keep the organization honest and focused. It doesn’t have to be complicated but know what’s working and not working is a good place to start.

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