As a volunteer organizer for the 2023 Kane County Fair GOP Tent, I was able to experience the dynamics within many of the other Townships. It seems that we all have one concern in common, we want to prioritize better teamwork within our groups, and across groups. We often spend more time with internal battles vs. managing a game plan to win against our Democrat competitors. Some examples include the following:
Stop In-Fighting at Team Meetings
Nothing is more of a turn off to potential new volunteers than to attend a meeting where team members are yelling, name calling or whispering negative insults to others. It’s like inviting a new neighbor over to meet your family, and then breaking out into a family feud. Politics is a passionate subject, so there are bound to be disagreements. But when you extend beyond arguing over ideas and begin name calling, insults, and creating schemes to encourage people to quit, etc., we need to draw the line. I have watched this type of bully behavior for years but was surprised to learn that there are similar issues throughout other Township groups. I am sure that Democrats have heated discussions in their meetings too, but at the end of the day, they remain united behind their goals. We need to do the same and take it one step further to stop personal attacks both at meetings, and afterwards.
Recognize the People Who Get Things Done
Another area for improvement centers around the figureheads vs. the people who get work done. I have noticed that some people volunteer frequently, but never follow through with any commitments. On the other hand, I have observed a small group of people who can be counted on to tow the heavy load. They are selflessly ready to put in the effort to meet deadlines and accomplish goals, but they are often overlooked or even worse criticized for their project management style by armchair critics.
Volunteers are difficult to manage because they are not being paid, and their family and work commitments come first. We each have legitimate bandwidth requirements, and no one should be judged on what they did not contribute. Rather we should be complimenting and rewarding the accomplishments of the hard workers on a regular basis. This could include meeting acknowledgements, thank you cards, small gift cards, nominations for expanded roles, etc. This type of strength-building will create a competent volunteer work force for the 2024 election and beyond.
Work Toward a Common Goal
Within our Township and County groups, we should agree upon goals and objectives for each year. It could be growing Township funds, winning a specific seat in an election, or filling vacant PC seats. Once goals are agreed upon, they should be the underlying reason for all activities. We have limited time in our volunteer roles, so it is best to focus on priorities. It also creates an objective reference to apply during team arguments – whether it meets the agreed upon goals, or not. No further discussion.
We also need to avoid creating personal interests that undermine the shared team goal. For years, I have witnessed people popping in and out of groups when it benefits their personal agendas (i.e. running for office, furthering their business, etc.). We need people year-round to defeat our Democrat competitors. Give a donation, or share your time and knowledge, but do so freely without expectations of a personal payout. There is no “I” in teamwork, and we should be giving back for the collective group, and not our own personal gain.