This is definitely a nuanced challenge and what’s been said here so far is very, very smart. This needs to be a dialogue between you, this prospective member, and your community. Unless all of those people are in relative agreement, this only ends badly, even if he never does anything wrong.
To be perfectly clear, the damage of not talking about it is arguably worse than any tactical damage he could do directly. Your #1 asset is people who trust each other, and trust you. If you leave things unsaid (even things that are hard or uncomfortable to say), you undermine that trust.
When we had to handle an inside-job theft, my top priority was trying to counteract the default place everyone’s mind went: *wondering if every new community member was trustworthy. *
I think that’s the key here - trustworthiness. I highly recommend this short TED talk about building and rebuilding trust. She does a better job of explaining what we work on every day than I ever have, in essence, it’s not to “create more trust” but to help people demonstrate their trustworthiness. That’s the prerequisite. “Trust is the response,” she says.
I love Jeannine’s special “trial” program, and I think it falls in line perfectly with this talk and mode of thinking. It gives someone a high part to step up to, to earn the trust by contributing and participating. If they don’t want to step up to that bar (which many people won’t) that’s their choice.
Short and sweet - if you can’t have an open dialogue between you, some trusted community members, and this person about the concerns then use that as a signal that this juice isn’t worth the squeeze. But if you can have that convo…keep that TED talk about trustworthiness in mind.
Good luck. This is the mucky stuff that people don’t think about and generally are afraid to ask about here. I really appreciate you being open about it and asking!
The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.
The First Ten: An audiobook for coworking community builders.
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On Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 5:29 AM, Jeannine van der Linden [email protected] wrote:
I have dealt with similar problems more than once and the answer is to talk about it. Your job is to protect your community, both in the short and the long term, and if he becomes a member that includes him also. You should say this explicitly. He knows what his past is better than you do so no need to pussyfoot around it. It isn’t like you are telling him anything he doesn’t know, and it can be a great relief to get some straight talk in smaller communities, lol.
The agreement may be terminated unilaterally by the management if:
- the Coworker does not comply with the rules and agreements made in the contract or otherwise comply with the law of the Netherlands, the business’ place of creation, or any place it operates;
- the Coworker does not pay an invoice,
- in case of bankruptcy or placement under a curator of a Coworker,
- the Coworker or its employees or associates harms the coworking space or any of its coworkers, or harms third parties in the course of its business in any way.
You will also find this further on:
We do not provide information about Coworkers to third parties without prior consent of Coworkers or a valid Court Order or other legal requirement that it do so, except as follows:
a) upon suspicion or investigation of fraud;
b) in the event that Coworker is unreachable or fails to respond to efforts by the Coworkign space to communicate with Coworker on behalf of creditors, customers, or other third parties unable to locate Coworker;
c) upon official request from the police or other government authorities.
Our contract states very explicitly that if we see evidence of fraud or illegal practices, we will report any and all such activities to the relevant authorities and let them sort it out. That’s what they are for. I do not f*ck around with this; our purpose is to be able to work in a community of earned trust. Good boundaries are important as is a clear vision of what you are doing.
All that tough language quite aside, we have also admitted as coworkers people with a very checkered past because I think if you have done your time then you are entitled to a chance to do better and to be sincerely supported in doing that. Otherwise why would you ever even try to do better?
So I have a special three month contract, for people with various background problems. During that three months the Community Manger is actively involved with them, in a supportive role and also – and we say this quite explicitly – to keep an eye on things. At the end of it the Community Manger gives a thumbs up or a thumbs down. If all goes well they get a long term contract and it can be a truly transformative experience. If not then we tell them they need to find somewhere else, alas.
But in general I have to tell you that every time I have gone against my gut on this, I have been sorry. So I support you in going with your gut at the end of the day.
If I missed anything you want to talk about, let me know!
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