How do you Implement Mobilization?
We started off identifying the compelling need for change, PEF’s urgency for change. The declining membership, the poor contracts, the threat in the background of desertification and fundamentally just the sense that the organization is currently constructed with insufficient power to meet its objectives. We have discussed some of the successes and failures we have had with mobilizing to date. We have discussed the necessary stages in any organizational change process, and the different organizational models, servicing and organizing.
So, how do we implement Member Mobilization, change the way we do business and build PEF power? It all starts with planning.
CONSTRUCT A WORK PLAN
Why is planning important? Most PEF Divisions are busy just keeping up with the problems, grievances, disciplines and labor/management issues that come through the door. Why plan extra things? Who has time? Who has enough people?
The answer is a simple one. Planning is the only way Divisions can get control over who they are and what they do. If an organization doesn’t plan its own agenda, if there isn’t a clear idea of what the goals are and how to achieve them, then the organization spends all its time reacting. And, the organization that spends all its time reacting can easily end up on the ropes.
A second advantage of planning is that if the Division sets achievable, short-term goals that matter to members, it’s easier to get them involved in helping with the activities. If they understand how what they’re doing fits into the whole plan, if there are timetables, so you’re not asking them for an indefinite commitment and as you actually get results, members will be more willing to become more active.
The following steps are just one easy format to follow for planning:
Step One: Set Long Term Objectives
Picture this Division three years from now. How would you like it to be different than it is today?
The Division Council (and as many other people as might be appropriate), begin by drawing up a list of long term objectives for the Division. They could be things like improving labor’s image in the community, signing up 100% of potential members, settling all grievances at first step. What would you, the leaders, like to achieve? Narrow it down to no more than five or six long-term objectives these are not the immediate goals. These are the areas in which the Division will begin work.
Step Two: Translate the long-term objectives into short-term goals, which are specific, measurable and achievable
PEF’s long term objective is in three years to have 10% of our membership enlisted to be Member Mobilizers. What are the short-term goals we need to set to reach that objective?
If the long-term objective is to improve the Division’s image, the goal might be to receive positive press coverage for two activities within the next three months. If the long-term objective is to increase participation the goal might be to recruit 10 more people to serve on union committees. If the long-term objective is to sign up more members the goal might be to sign up 30 new members within the next month. In other words, the difference between an objective and a goal is that an objective is long-term, idealistic vision of what should be accomplished; a goal is the short-term step that needs to be taken to get there. Again with the Division Council and whoever is included, try to come up with a number of achievable measurable short-term goals that would lead towards accomplishing the long-term objectives.
Step Three: Set Priorities
This is the point when the choice is made as to which goal to work on first. Some of the criteria used in making your choice:
- What’s most important to the union? Which of the goals are most urgent? Which of the goals will do the most good?
- What are the union’s resources in terms of money, people and time? Are any of the plans impossible or particularly difficult given current union resources?
- Which of the goals are most likely to succeed? Begin with a victory, if possible. Choose the goal that seems easiest to achieve, especially if you’re just starting out in the process.
Step Four: Develop an Action Plan
An Action Plan is the road map for achieving each goal. This is the key step between planning and doing. The components of an Action Plan are:
- What – List all the different things that need to be done, step by step.
- When – Develop a timetable with specific dates for achieving each task. You may want to draw up a planning calendar to keep track of the dates.
- Who – Assign someone to be responsible for getting each particular task done on time and keep a record for accountability.
Other considerations may be:
- Where – What’s the most advantageous location for meetings or events.
- How – Are there other available resources (e.g. coalition allies, materials form other sources activists elsewhere in the community) that might be helpful?
Step Five: Meet regularly to review progress
Schedule regular meeting for accountability. Is everyone doing what they’re supposed to be doing? Who needs help? How are things going?
Step Six: Evaluate success or failure and set new goals
At the end of the allotted time everyone should get back together and evaluate whether or not the plan was successful. If it wasn’t, what was the problem? Was the goal too ambitious? Or was the plan not detailed enough? Go back to the beginning and look at some of the other goals. Which of them should be attempted now?
In every organization, in every area of life, the ability to plan is the first pre-requisite for success. It’s possible to accomplish things without planning but the process is chaotic and uncontrolled and no fun. By setting goals, the membership gets a sense of activity and forward motion, a sense of control and strength. The union develops an offense as well as a defense.
Before you design your work plan, you should take some time and assess your Division. What does your Division look like? How many members do you have? How many Stewards do you have? How are you organized? How do you communicate? How often does the Division Council meet? How often do you meet with the general membership? Who handles grievances? Understanding where your Division is at will help you decide and focus on where you need to go to build a stronger Division. The following assessment form will help your Division answer these questions.