Cliques are alive and well at many chapters, regional and national associations. Cliques may be the enemy of a thriving association because others feel acutely excluded. New members are not welcomed (it is lonely and awkward being the only one not in a conversation). Members willing to contribute are passed over for the same old speakers and writers (adding to a growing resentment and disengagement in the association). Future leaders are blocked from committee and board roles (ensuring that a diversity of ideas never gets heard).
Members would never say that it hurts to not be welcomed, included, valued or asked but it does. Each time we allow a insiders group to form in our membership (hey, membership is an insider group already, right?) resentments are fueled, feelings hurt and the community is weakened.
Ideas to Combat the Cliques
- Make welcoming a priority – show leaders how to do this well and help make this a priority for leaders and long-time and other interested members.
- Mix up the speakers and authors – allocate some of the program or publication space to new or not recent speakers and authors. Afraid they may not do a good job? Guide and train them.
- Rotate leadership roles – perhaps increase terms to maintain some continuity but make sure other members, outside of the normal in crowd, are allowed to participate.
We can ensure the cliques don’t upset our community by including more and more interested members.