Helping members process their feelings through a crazy year

Hi everyone!

Has anyone here done anything specific to help their members process their feelings through the craziness of the past year?

All of our communities’ members have had to deal with so much. Uncertainty. Loss. Loneliness. Isolation. There’s a lot of grieving to do, and new struggles to handle.

Your organizations have the potential to give people a way to get a better handle on all of this.

  • Have you done something to help your members get the support they need during this time?
  • Have you seen others doing something you thought was particularly effective?
  • Have you got any ideas you’ve been meaning to try?

I’d like to see how best we might learn from each other in this regard.

Thanks!
Tony

Tony,

Great topic. Along the way we have had a few Town Hall meetings. Sometimes for no apparent reason just to hear any concerns people aren’t talking about or even ideas on how we can support them in new ways.

We are having one tomorrow because our Governor has now mandated masks inside all buildings at all times. To us, this means open space as well as private offices and meeting rooms. But I knew we shouldn’t just send out an email stating that without scheduling a time to hear everyone out. So the theme of our meeting tomorrow will be “if you feel like the physical space isn’t working for you under this new order, what can we offer to help you in different ways to continue to help you get value for your membership”.

Hoping we will not only get some new ideas but allow people to branch out into sharing other aspects of their lives that are challenging them.

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Excited to see everyone’s responses to these q’s! Great questions, as always Tony.

Pre-pandemic, we were always checking in with people on a personal level when they came to the office. We also had a super-engaging FB group for members-only, where we had created a safe environment for members to show up as themselves, without feeling like they had to put on a brave face. I believe this sense of safety has contributed to our members sticking together (and sticking with our membership) even though we were closed or only open limited hours for the majority of this year.

After a LOT of experimentation with an online membership this year, we have discovered an absolutely magical Zoom call format that is hands-down my favourite call every month for what our members walk away with every time AND for how easy it is for me to facilitate.

We call them “Hive Mind Hot Seats”. Up to 3 members can sign up ahead of time for a 25 min turn in the hot seat, where they get to pose a question or ask the rest of the group for feedback on something they’re working on or dealing with (they can bring ANYTHING to the table, work related or personal).

Then I simply facilitate the rest of the group as they all chime in and provide their ideas, experience and feedback to the person in the hot seat. It’s absolutely amazing to watch. I barely say anything the whole time. I just make sure people who have raised their hand have a chance to speak, and I keep an eye on the time. That’s it. Our members do the rest. And EVERY TIME, whether they are in the hot seat themselves or not, everyone ends that call with a new perspective for something THEY are working on.

Even though the people in the hot seats often ask work related q’s, very personal things do naturally come up. Ie, personal fears, doubts and inhibitions. Personal habits that aren’t working so well. Spousal challenges. And everyone rallies, offers support, holds space.

NO ONE judges.

I would say that we have cultivated this kind of culture leading up to this point, so it was a natural move to try an event like this. Might not work so well if you tried something like this randomly, without making it ‘normal’ to express oneself in front of other members and for members to know they are qualified and encouraged to provide input.

I think this achieves two big things:

  1. Reinforces that you don’t have to have it all figured out, you can ask for help.
  2. Reinforces that your experience, knowledge and zone of genius is useful and helpful to others.

The first gives members a sense of safety and relieves pressure. The second gives members a sense of purpose. Together, a sense of belonging.

One thing I would love to be able to do better is address deeper challenges some members are facing, like clinical depression. Curious what other operators are doing to help members who live with these kinds of challenges on a regular day, let alone during a global pandemic. We have a couple of members who slip into deeply depressive episodes, and I feel helpless when that happens.