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Johnson County

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Johnson County
11811 S. Sunset Drive
Suite 1500
Olathe, KS 66061

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8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

(913) 715-7000
(913) 715-7005 fax

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Basic Group Needs

Civic engagement is a key element for a thriving community. To engage citizens in local clubs, committees, HOAs, councils, etc. we need to understand the basic needs of people to want to be part of a group.

group of peopleThere are many specialized types of groups associated with organizational and community activities. Some are loose and unstructured, such as informal networks – some are temporary, such as task forces designed to address a specific project or issue. Teams, while generally associated with sports, have become a more common method of organizing work groups and project groups. When goals require more resources than any one organization or agency can provide, coalitions or formal alliances or collaborations often develop. A wide variety of committees, study groups, political action groups, and other special groups, go through similar stages of development and action.

If you want loyalty, interest and the best effort from each person in a group, you must take into account that individuals in groups have needs. The situations in which group members are placed should make sense, not only to the leader, but to each individual as well.

As individuals, group members look for:

  1. A sense of belonging.
  • A feeling that no one objects to their presence.
  • A feeling that they are truly welcomed.
  • A feeling of being honestly needed.
  1. A share in planning the group goals.
  • A feeling that all ideas have had a fair hearing.
  • A feeling that the goals are within reach and make sense.
  • A feeling that the group is doing something worthwhile.
  1. A share in making the rules of the group.
  • Ground rules ensure respect and participation.
  • Guidelines describe the way in which the group works together toward common goals.
  1. To know what is expected.
  • Goals and responsibilities should be spelled out in detail so that work can be done effectively.
  • When addressing new issues and situations, the group members themselves may have to chart their own expectations.
  1. To have challenging responsibilities.
  • To use their abilities to contribute to reaching the goals.
  • To match interest with activities.
  1. To see progression toward the common goal.
  • This can be achieved by keeping everyone informed through updates, consultations and briefings on current accomplishments and future expectations.
  • Allow time for sharing and discussion.
  1. To have confidence and trust in the leader and other group members.
  • To recognize that everyone has knowledge and skills to contribute to solving problems.
  • To know that everyone is working toward the common goals, rather than on “hidden agendas.”

These seven items give concrete examples of the basic needs an individual is looking for when engaging in a group setting. For an individual to step up and volunteer their time, skills, and energy as necessary ingredients for a group’s success there needs to be an awareness and strategy placed around basic needs. As we look to the new year and the forming of civic minded groups, please consider incorporating these basic needs into your recruitment and onboarding of group members.

Excerpts from Productive Groups-LEADS Curriculum Notebook K-State Research and Extension
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