Happy members are at the heart of a thriving club and working collaboratively is key to creating a positive culture.
Clubs should aim for members to:
- be included in communications on all aspects of the club
- feel accurately represented by the committee
- be confident they know the rules of the club
- have a voice, and feel that their feedback is valued
- see coaches, volunteers and the committee working together for the good of the club
- see and hear behaviours aligned to the club code of conduct
- feel welcomed and listened to
- feel invested in club values
- feel they are treated sensitively and fairly
- Members have a positive experience at your club
- Members understand the expected behaviour and culture of the club
- Members work together positively
- Members can work through disagreements and disputes effectively
- Members talk positively about the club to their friends and family
- The club has a positive reputation in the local community
Having relevant policies and procedures can help with promoting collaboration and help address any issues should they arise. Even the most collaborative clubs may experience disagreements or disputes. Understanding the root of the disagreement can help you understand how to address and prevent in future.
Here are some of the potential disputes you may come across:
- Differences of opinion
- Disagreements on how to handle issues
- Complaints about performance or direction
- Financial disagreements
- Criticism of behaviours or attitudes
- Fighting with one another
- A test or challenge to power or position
- A threat out of our control
- Communication breakdown
Ensure that members agree to the codes of conducts so that they understand the expectations of behaviour at your club.
Committee to lead by example and set the tone for behaviour and culture across the club.
Identify club members who champion your club values, behaviours and ways of operating and use them to influence club culture.
Share club committee minutes or a review of actions and financial reports so that all members have visibility of club discussions, decisions, and future plans.
Appoint member representatives who can listen to issues in an informal capacity. Your members may feel more comfortable raising an issue informally with someone who they see as a peer, meaning solutions may be found faster.
If you go into a conversation thinking its going to be difficult it probably will be. Try reframing with a positive mindset and seeing the conversation as an opportunity to move forward, gain feedback and come to a positive resolution that will benefit the club and members.
Seek to engage and involve members by providing them opportunities to voice opinions and feelings on how the club is operating, as well as their experience.
Keep an eye on any minor conflicts. Early intervention can prevent conflicts escalating. Consider how you can provide feedback and have positive conversations to resolve the issue.
Identify club members who could act as peace makers and facilitate discussions to resolve disagreements or address poor behaviour – this could be someone who feels comfortable with difficult and challenging situations.
Ensure that those who are involved with disagreements or disputes take time to look after themselves.
- Does your club have a fit-for-purpose constitution and relevant policies (Club Standards?)
Great. By establishing solid policies and procedures, hopefully your members will know and adhere to the rules of the club.
Some clubs don’t put policies and procedures in place until they realise they need them. These policies should aid collaboration and resolve disagreements if they do occur.
- Are all members made aware of and asked to sign up to codes of conduct?
Great. Keep these under regular review to ensure any changes are implemented and communicated.
Codes of conduct should be communicated and agreed by all members. The codes should be used to uphold and challenge poor behaviour.
- Do you provide an induction for new members?
Great. Hopefully your members understand and are supportive of the clubs purposes, ways of operating and behavioural expectations.
Providing an induction for new members helps the member learn more about the club, the ways of operating and behavioural expectations.
- Does your club engage in regular communication with club members on the running of club?
Great! Engaging your members will help them feel part of the club and understand why decisions are made.
Often the lack of communication can cause people to feel not part of the club, which can result in tensions.
- Is there a mechanism for formal and informal feedback to reach the management committee in the club?
Great. Knowing what your members think and reacting to suggestions is a great way to improve your members experience and retention.
Consider holding member forums or using a survey to get ideas and feedback from your members. Giving your members a voice will help.
- Does your club have a volunteer (s) who are comfortable with managing difficult conversations and defusing tensions?
Great. This will really help in preventing disputes escalating to becoming a formal conflict.
Being ready to deal with tensions is important in preventing disputes escalating into formal conflicts. Resolving a dispute peacefully, where all parties can learn and move on, will help rebuild relationships. Consider using a club member who is impartial and an empathetic good listener.