4 Steps for an Emergency Forum Meeting

Emergencies happen.  Problems arise.  Life doesn’t stick to a schedule, which is why you may need to call an emergency Forum meeting.  You can call your Forum 24/7 to help you with the tough stuff.  So, how do you do it?

  1. Contact the Moderator.  Let the Moderator know when and where you would like the meeting to be held.  You do NOT have to identify the specific situation.  It’s enough that your Forum members know you need help.
  2. Moderator notifies Forum.  The Moderator contacts the other Forum members and notifies them of the emergency meeting, the location and the time.
  3. Meeting is held.  The meeting itself typically consists of an opening confidentiality reminder and a presentation on your issue.
  4. Meeting is adjourned.  After the full presentation process is complete, the meeting ends.   The presenter should provide a status update at the next Forum meeting.

What constitutes an issue that is important enough to call an emergency meeting?  This varies from person to person and Forum to Forum.  There are some Forums that have been together for years and have never had an emergency meeting, while other Forums have them several times a year.  There are some people who have never called an emergency meeting and others who have called multiple emergency meetings during difficult times.  In short, if you are feeling uncomfortable about the severity of your issue, contact your Moderator and talk it through with them.  He or she can guide you as to whether the issue is appropriate for an emergency meeting.

Note that emergency meetings are not considered mandatory for attendance.  This is because we can’t possibly plan for them – they just happen.  For example, if someone is out of town on the date when you’ve requested the emergency meeting, it won’t be recorded as an absence.

Unfortunately, things happen that are out of our control.  Thankfully, your Forum is there to help you when the unexpected happens.  It’s another great benefit of being in a Forum!

 

Five Ways to Integrate “The New Guy” into Your Forum

So the time has come to add a new member to your Forum.  Understandably, you’re wondering how the new person will fit in with the rest of the Forum, and you may be concerned about how to integrate him or her into the group.  You want him or her to feel welcome and comfortable, yet you want the intimacy and closeness that your Forum has developed over the years to remain intact throughout the process and beyond.

Know that the dynamics of the Forum will change when a new member joins – at least for a while.  But there are several practices you can use to help smooth the transition.  Here are five ideas:

  1. This new member should, if possible, attend Forum Training.  This basically equips them with the basic skills, knowledge and expectations that will help them to better integrate into your Forum.  The more knowledge a member has when they enter the Forum, the more quickly they will get up to speed and align with the group!
  2. Appoint one person from your forum to meet with this new member before his or her first Forum meeting.  It’s the old “buddy system.”  Go over your forum norms/constitution and your upcoming meeting schedule.  Reiterate any rules around solicitation, business deals, fines and absences.  Answer any questions they may have, and encourage them to feel comfortable asking you about anything they are unsure of.  This contact enables the new member to have a personal relationship with at least one person in the forum, which in turn helps the new member’s first Forum meeting to be as smooth as possible for everyone.
  3. At the new member’s first meeting, include a time for every member to share a 5 to 10 minute overview of their business and personal life.  This can be an extended monthly update, or you could add a special section to the meeting agenda.
  4. Remind current members not to make inside jokes or other exclusionary remarks in front of the new member. (It doesn’t help the new member feel welcome!)  Also, remind members not to make any negative comments about prior Forum members, regardless of the circumstances of their departure.
  5. In the weeks and months ahead, encourage all existing members to meet with the new member outside the Forum meeting.  This should be a face-to-face, one-on-one meeting.  Perhaps they could meet for coffee or lunch, play golf, or visit each other’s offices.  Remember, the goal is to make this new member feel comfortable, so instead of feeling like “the new guy” he/she feels like one of the gang.

If the new member is married, consider sending a small gift to the spouse – perhaps flowers for a woman, or a Starbucks gift card for a man.  Include a small welcome note and let them know that the Forum looks forward to meeting them too.

After a few meetings, be sure the new member’s “buddy” checks in with them to see how they’re doing.  Sometimes answering a simple question can remove a mystery or a concern for the new member.  Also, remember to focus on the positives of adding a new member.  New members can bring in new perspectives and new areas of expertise, which often breathes new life and more energy into the Forum.

Oh No! I’ve been Elected Moderator!

As a Forum member, sooner or later you’re probably going to be elected Moderator.  It’s par for the course.  And, understandably, you may be a bit nervous about the role.  I don’t think I’m up to the task, you’ll think.  How will I find time in my busy schedule to be a good leader?

First, let’s look at the positives.  Being the Moderator is a powerful leadership opportunity.  In most cases, you’ll have the opportunity to attend Moderator training.  You’ll learn to facilitate meetings more efficiently, to mediate and manage conflict – in short, you’ll learn how to improve your communication skills.  And if you stumble upon a problem?  Don’t think of it as a problem – see it as an opportunity to learn and grow and improve upon your leadership skills.

Another tip is to elect the Moderator-elect right now.  Then have them assist you with various tasks.  Share the load!  There’s no reason why it all has to fall on your shoulders.

Talk with the Forum about your concerns.  Remember, that’s what Forum is all about – authenticity and support!  Explain your concerns about the time requirements.  Ask people what their expectations are from you as their Moderator.  Make a specific list of all the responsibilities you have as the Moderator and ask people if they’re willing to share the load and take on a role or a specific task for the year.

Worst case scenario, you can just say No.  Explain that you’ve thought it through and you simply cannot take on the role right now.  Keep in mind, however, that everyone is busy.  Everyone is running companies and many people have families, social activities, and community commitments.  Claiming that you are busier than everyone else could come across as whining, or like you’re saying your time is more valuable than theirs.  Still, presenting your case is a reasonable thing to do, and you can do it in a manner that doesn’t come across as condescending.

Remember, being a Moderator is a privilege that each Forum member will probably encounter at some points.  Scary, yes – but think of it as an opportunity instead of a hindrance, and it will only get easier from there!

Forum Dictionary: ‘Scotch Talk’

Forum members often use lingo and phrases that are specific to the Forum experience. We’ve attempted to decode some of the more interesting and /or amusing ‘Forum-speak’ in a handy Forum Dictionary. Consider it your ‘Urban Dictionary for Forums’. Here’s the first entry in the Forum Dictionary.

 

Scotch talk (noun.)
A discussion that is better suited for conversation outside of the meeting, over a glass of scotch.

Take it off-line, Joe. That’s scotch talk.

 

[box type=”info”] Do you have an addition for the Forum Dictionary? Let us know by leaving a comment. Take a look a the other terms in the Forum Dictionary.[/box]

What is a Forum?

I’ve been working with Forums for so long, the concept is like second nature to me. But I realize that there are quite a few of you reading this blog that may not have heard of Forums before. Or maybe you’ve heard of Forums but still aren’t quite sure exactly what they are.

In simple terms, here’s the answer to the burning question, “What is a Forum?”

A Forum is:

  • A leadership peer group or peer advisory board of 6 to 12 business owners, entrepreneurs or high-level leaders.
  • A monthly leadership exchange among peers who act as a personal ‘board of advisors’ for each other.
  • A confidential and collaborative venue for sharing, learning and growing with like-minded leaders in a structured peer team setting.