Summer here in New York has been hot and humid the last few weeks. It’s sacrilegious, but thoughts about the beginning of a new school year in September have begun to creep into my thoughts intermittently. So let’s keep this post simple.
Let’s examine a simple question:
Why do so many educational committees and teams that start off with high hopes of accomplishing great things, end in failure?
Failure may be too strong a word; but you know what I mean. The committee’s work seems to trail off, members attend sporadically. Serving on the committee begins to feel like a prison sentence. The inital enthusiasm that committee members once had has given way to cynicism. We’ve all heard these dis-affected individuals complain,
“I’ll never serve on another committee again, ever!”
So what’s up?
I like to approach these type of questions from a reflective practice. For example, in this case I simply ask myself,
“Why do I drop out of things ?”
1. No progress is being made. Lot’s of talk and little in the way of outcomes.
2. One person is doing all the work and those of us who are willing to work don’t feel useful.
3. There are bad team dynamics – fighting, arguing, conflicts
4. There is little sense of direction or inspiration. The “for sake of what” we are meeting for, has disappeared.
5. There are no agreed upon group standards: Meetings start late and run overtime. Agendas are non-existent, or if they do exist no one adheres to them. Members attend sporadically and no one seems to care. There is little concern for following up on action items that team members committed to completing.
6. The stronger, more loquacious members of the team completely dominate discussion.
7. There are more relevant activities for me to pursue.
8. I’m bored with what is going on.
When I look back on my bad committee and team experiences, these are the things that caused me to drop out, either physically or mentally. By looking at my own motivations, it provides me with some useful insights into why others may be exhibiting similar behavior. It also allows me to take meaningful action to correct something that may be driving my team or committee towards failure.
Nothing profound. It’s too hot. The summer is approaching the ‘dog days’…and a new school year is around the corner.