Starting and Managing a Self-Help Group (Part 3)

In this part of our series on ‘Starting and Managing a Self-Help Group’ we will focus on group establishment, leadership among other areas. If you haven’t had a chance to read parts one and two of the series click on the following links: Part 1, Part 2.

1. Establishing The Group.

  • What kind of group will it be?
  • How big will it be and what kind of structure will it have?
  • Be flexible to other member’s ideas.
  • Keep an open spirit – don’t become closed and cliquey.
  • How frequently will the group meet?
  • Always set an agenda, with different activities from week to week.
  • Post the agenda to members.
  • Accepting new members – agree on how to introduce and involve new members.
  • Develop a group newsletter through social media networks such as Whatsapp or Facebook groups.

2. Leadership

  • All groups need leaders. They naturally evolve, or are elected.
  • Leadership behaviour will be determined by various influences:
    *His/her personality,
    *Behaviour of other group members, and
    *The situations facing the group.
  • A good group leader :
    * Communicates empathy.
    * Communicates respect.
    * Is concise.
    * Has good listening skills.
    * Is flexible and adaptable.

3. Behaviour

In a group setting, behaviour is everything. Recognise the following :

  • Aggression, attempt to dominate.
  • Submissiveness – can be an indirect way of seeking control.
  • Assertion.
    * Greater self-confidence.
    * Greater confidence in others.
    * Increased self-responsibility.
    * Increased self-control.
    * Respect.
    *Leads to increased chance of everyone gaining
    something useful.
  • Groups must be sensitive, and respond to difficult behaviour from
    members ‘withdrawing’, to members becoming ‘overbearing’.

4. Relationships

  • A group needs to be formal enough to be well-organised, but friendly enough to
    make new members feel welcome and involved.
  • A framework is needed, so that:
    *Decisions can be made.
    *No one person dominates the group.
    *The group has stability and continuity.
    *New members understand what is going on.
    *New ideas can be introduced.
  • Take into account:
    *How big the group is?
    *How large might it become?
    *Are you going to restrict numbers?
    *Are there professionals in the group?
    *Formal constitution?
    *Sharing jobs out.
    *Concentrating on mutual support.
    *Rotating positions of responsibility.
  • For groups being professionally organised and led:
    *Choose a structure which allows most members to join in.
    *Encourage new members to take on jobs.
    *A time-limitation for the leadership?
    *Keep simple records.
    *Don’t let discussion of the organisation take over.
    *Avoid ‘cliques’.

5. Membership

  • Ask yourself three things:
    *Who will be members of the group?
    *What do you want to achieve?
    *What activities could you undertake?
  • Membership:
    *Are you going to require subscriptions?
    *What happens if people don’t pay – do they stop being members?
    *Will members need to make some commitment; i.e. agreeing with the objectives of the group?
    *Will they be required to attend regularly?
    *Must they take on some task at some stage?