Okay, you might be thinking, “This is a casual group that gets together on a regular basis. Do we really need rules or bylaws?”  The answer is an emphatic “YES!”

The purpose of setting rules or bylaws is to ensure fair and full participation for each member and to ensure equitable collegial sharing of resources and opportunities. The goal is to work in a collaborative fashion. This can only happen if every member is committed to the group and to the process.

Here are some factors to consider when determining your rules:

  • Invitations –How will you determine who should join your group, and how they will be invited?
  • Veto power – Who and how can a member oppose a person becoming a member? Under what circumstances?
  • Member review – Why, when and how do you assess a member’s value to the group?
  • Guests — Will guests be allowed on special occasions? If so, when?

In addition to these, at the first meeting you will need to set guidelines. These could include:

  • Meeting Guidelines
    • Setting the number of attendees required to conduct a meeting.
    • Determining when consensus decision-making is appropriate.
    • Establishing which actions are acceptable and unacceptable to the group.
    • Discussing inappropriate behavior with the offending member.
    • Setting parameters for group procedures.
    • Creating guidelines for dealing with difficult issue.
  • Member guidelines:
    • Defining appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.
    • Outlining group expectations of its member, i.e.
      • Commit to one-year membership (fees to be determined).
      • Attend at least 9 of 12 meetings
      • Notify facilitator if unable to attend a meeting, and why
      • Avoid controversial topics – religion, politics
      • Avoid bullying, gossiping, insulting
      • Do not check emails and texts, or take phone calls during meetings
      • Be good listeners
      • Maintain trust in each other
    • Establishing consequences if someone misses too many meetings

Setting rules and guidelines will help avoid problems before they arise. Establishing consequences makes it easier to handle difficult situations and will contribute to the longevity of your Mastermind Group.

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