Managing decision-making among partners: Once the collaborative has discussed and decided how partners make decisions together (Are decisions made by consensus? Does the lead partner make most of the decisions?), there is still the need to develop trust among the partners. Listen to each other intentionally, ask clarifying questions that help partners deepen their interdependence, hear what they’re saying and what they need, speak well of each other, and be consistent in communicating. The more time partners spend together and the more they communicate with each other and find ways to support each other, the more they’ll develop trust and the better the collaborative work and shared decision-making process will be.
Deciding what to prioritize. Develop a decision-making process for the coalition based on the partnership’s guiding principles. For example, does it address the community conditions that can help with or detract from mental health and wellbeing? Does it promote health equity and racial justice? Does it build on the strengths and assets of the community? When considering which policies, programs, and activities to take on, ask the questions that assure that decisions are consistent with the coalition’s shared set of values.
Challenge: avoiding burnout
Working on issues like stress, anxiety, violence, poverty, racism, and other systemic harms is intense and can become overwhelming. During the Making Connections initiative, we’ve seen this lead to burnout among site leads, staff members, and volunteers. To prevent and support this inevitable strain, it’s important to create a space for team members to talk about their stress and also for all involved to model what it looks like to support others who are part of the work. This could look like sharing gifts of each other, practicing appreciation for each other's talents and skills, and taking time off to breathe and re-energize. We also recommend that community engagement efforts be shared by several team members. Shouldering it alone is a lot for one person to handle.