6

I have taken over this community from someone else this year around January.

The community is a sports community with sports-related goal. The community has always wished to achieve bigger goals but couldn't achieve these with the last coach. From the moment on I was in charge, I have changed several aspects of the community: I enforced a strict rule set and strictly judged performance of each participant.

The methods have proven: We could climb up the ladder of success and achieved the goals which were in mind for nearly five years! Out of a performance view, the community jump started. The participants themselves and the parents behind them were happy but then Christmas happened - and I did nothing.

Due to the strict environment and the relation between the participants and me, I didn't think a Christmas celebration or any annual celebration was necessary or even appropriate. So I just wished everyone Merry Christmas via email.

Yesterday, I received an email from a mother (who dislikes me), apparently with the backup of other parents, why I haven't done a Christmas celebration. I investigated and it came to light that in the last four years there was such a celebration. I shamelessly broke this tradition.

Nonetheless, I still don't think it's appropriate to do one or even say sorry for not doing one. It just doesn't fit the relationship I have with my young participants. I have yet to reply.

What should I do?

Disclaimer: I don't fear that anyone will leave the community due to this dispute. I've been very strict and besides some minor uproars because of these strict and goal-pursuing methods nobody really complained. The participants like to come to the community (three to five times a week).

  • 3
    Is your objection to you organizing a Christmas party, or to a Christmas party happening at all? If some of the parents had offered to organize one, would that have been ok? (Just trying to understand the scope of the objection before answering.) – Monica Cellio Dec 28 '15 at 19:41
  • I'm against a Christmas party in general since I don't think that it is helpful in any way. However, I'm open to suggestions regarding the whole situation. I hope that clarified it. – Zerotime Dec 28 '15 at 19:55
  • 1
    How did you come to be in charge of this community? Was this by election of the constituents, or by appointment by a sponsor? Were you given a mandate to change or improve the community by whomever put you in charge? – Greg Chase Jan 4 '16 at 22:23
  • @GregChase I'm not elected, I've been appointed. – Zerotime Jan 5 '16 at 21:26
7

Deciding if you want a party

Almost every community has some end goals, but that doesn't mean that everything your community does has to be a step towards achieving those goals. Don't overlook the team-building benefits of a party—even if it is a group that is very formal, parties and gatherings can help bring everyone together. Often, you get to know people better... you can get to know the kids and parents a lot better with such a party.

That being said, the logistics of such a party can be difficult. There are expenses, places to have it, invites, activities, and much more.

I'm a part of a community that has only formal goals, but we still get together a few times a year to have fun and get to know everyone better. When we do, we often have everyone bring one or two things, and it's held in a person's backyard. You could do a similar thing where everyone brings something to someone's house, and you can plan activities/such to do during the party.

Overall, I think the team building aspect is too important to overlook. Does that mean a Christmas party per se? No, but it's a great chance to bring everyone together.

A small note: although it's fine to have a Christmas party, be aware of other beliefs to make sure everyone feels comfortable and included. Yes, some non-Christian people do celebrate the festivities, but there might be some people who don't because of religious conflicts. A "winter"/"holiday" party can be more safe, although you should make that decision yourself.


Responding to the parent

If you decide yes to the party [in future years], you should first of all cite the fact that you hadn't been informed that this was a tradition until after the fact. It's too late to do anything now, although you could organize something later in the year to make up for it. You need to emphasize that it wasn't meant to be aggressive nor was it meant to create conflicts.

If you decide no to such a party in the future, you should tell the parent your thoughts and cite the impracticality of a party. Sometimes, you can't please everyone and you just have to use your authority. Say that you're sorry that they were saddened by no party, but say that there are going to be other opportunities for them/their kid to have fun with the group.

Whatever you do: try not to be defensive or aggressive. This parent sounds like they are trying to pick a fight; don't give them an opportunity to. (If the worst comes to the worst, this might be your friend :P)

5

First and foremost, figure out what the community wants. Running on hearsay about what people want isn't a good way to make decisions. Ask people for their honest opinions and make sure that you ensure you are approachable enough that people won't tell you what you want to hear for fear of bad consequences.

I notice that you have a tendency to have questions on here with a very similar thread of trying to do things your way despite the wishes of the community and it ends up getting you in trouble and then you come here to ask why. It seems to be a pattern, so I'd hazard that there is likely something to it.

Yes, there are times when it is necessary to go against the will of some, or even all of a community when leading to makes sure that a community gets where it is trying to go, but it is also important to remember that each one of those decisions has a very real cost and detriment to the community as well. Be sure to pick your battles carefully and make sure you separate your desires from what you think is best for the community and what you know is best for the community.

As a leader, it's important to try to keep your personal interests out of it as much as possible. We're human, so it isn't possible to keep it out entirely, but learning to assess your motives honestly and accurately is a key leadership skill.

Perhaps the harder distinction is telling what you believe and what you know about what is best for the group. You have to carefully consider your confidence in different paths for the group and consider the costs and benefits of each possible choice. Be more willing to bend or conceed on things that you can't be certain will produce the outcome you are trying to avoid.

Perhaps a Christmas party is hard to do without compromising the distant coach thing you are going for, but perhaps there are ways to give the community what they want without compromising that, such as allowing them a party with each other, but yourself remaining in a very organizational role over the party rather than socializing. Consider other possible ways to accomplish the desires of your community even if they aren't your own personal desires.

You also need to consider the potential harm from consistently seeming distant from both participants and their parents as one or two individual cases might not cause issues, but over time, it can build to resentment that you seem to be starting to see. Perhaps this was an ideal time to be able to show some connection with parents or maybe it wasn't, but if the community is looking for something and you constantly deny it, it will eventually spell issues for you unless you address it, either by convincing the community they don't want it or by providing it in a way that minimizes interference with the community's other objectives.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.