“If you want to get something done, ask a busy person”
Recently I’ve been grappling with a problem which, I’m sure, is quite common. This makes it all the more frustrating that, after 35 years of trying to mobilise people to take action of one sort of another (ie throughout my career in not-for-profit marketing) I’ve hit this brick wall now.
I’m working on two projects are the moment (I’ll save the blushes of those involved by excluding details) where people who have previously expressed interest, do not now seem to want to be involved with those projects. I know they’re active, committed and yes – busy – individuals; that’s why I asked them in the first place!
Over the last few months, I think I’ve given them both ample opportunity to get involved and the chance to say directly if they want out. But, despite my best efforts, they’re pretty much voting with their feet and staying away without explanation. A couple of people have said they’ll get involved when the projects are up and running, but I need help now!
As I write this, lots of questions fill my head…
Are they interested but just too busy? Someone suggested summer is a bad time to start things because of holidays and competition from fair-weather activities. But these people first declared their interest at the start of 2014.
Maybe they’re no longer interested and don’t want to offend me by saying so? Granted I regard many of them as friends, and sensitive friends at that, but I regard being upfront as hallmarks of a healthy relationship. Indeed one of those people has been both helpful and honest by telling me they’re bowing out from further involvement.
Another question is whether I or they are being reasonable / unreasonable? I admit I sort of co-opted them to get involved, but a mild bit of bullying is sometimes needed to persuade and, after all, they’re grown-ups. Surely it shouldn’t come down to me chasing them all the time?
Revisiting basic marketing principles, I suppose one way for me to get answers to these questions is to ask the people concerned, individually, how they feel about being involved. The fact that so many are staying away suggests I’m doing something fundamentally wrong (painful to acknowledge) or maybe their reasons are all different, all equally valid and/or could be addressed with a bit of effort on both our parts. If I don’t ask them I’ll probably never know.
In the meantime it would be great to get insights and advice from readers of this blog. As I said at the start, I’m sure I’m not alone in having trouble drumming up support for a new initiative. How did you get to take people with you when you needed them?