February 02, 2014   by

IMPROVING CHAMA DYNAMICSImagine that you’ve recruited the best people into your Chama. You had high hopes for the Chama, so you feel frustrated when people can’t seem to work together. When analyzing what is ailing your Chama, several factors come into play. This is especially clear during Chama meetings.

You may find that one person is very critical of fellow members’ ideas. You will discover that her fault-finding is discouraging others from speaking up. Another has hardly contributed to the meetings at all. When asked for her opinion, she simply agrees with a more dominant member. Finally, one member makes jokes at unhelpful times, which upsets the momentum of the discussion.

These are good examples of poor Chama dynamics, and they can undermine the success of a Chama as well as people’s morale and engagement. In this article, we’ll look at what Chama dynamics are, and why they matter. We’ll then discuss some examples of poor Chama dynamics, and we’ll outline some tools that you can use to deal with them.

What Are Chama Dynamics?

People often take on distinct roles and behaviors when they work in a group. “Chama dynamics” describes the effects of these roles and behaviors on other Chama members, and on the Chama as a whole. A Chama with a positive dynamic is easy to spot. Chama members trust one another, they work towards a collective decision, and they hold one another accountable for making things happen. In a Chama with poor group dynamics, people’s behavior disrupts work. As a result, the Chama may not come to any decision, or it may make the wrong choice, because group members could not explore options effectively. Use these approaches to improve group dynamics:

Know Your Chama

As a leader, you need to guide the development of your Chama. So, start by learning about the phases that a Chama goes through as it develops. When you understand these, you’ll be able to prevent problems that could arise, including issues with poor Chama dynamics.

Define Roles and Responsibilities

Teams that lack focus or direction can quickly develop poor dynamics, as people struggle to understand their role in the Chama. Create a Chama document defining the Chama’s mission and objective, and everyone’s responsibilities – as soon as you form the Chama. Make sure that everyone has a copy of the document, and remind people of it regularly.

Remove Barriers

Use activities to help everyone get to know one another, particularly when new members join the Chama. These activities ease new members into the Chama gently, and help to combat the “black sheep effect,” which happens when Chama members turn against people they consider different.

Help your members open up. Lead by example: share what you hope the Chama will achieve, along with “safe” personal information about yourself, such as valuable lessons that you’ve learned.

Pay Attention

Watch out for the warning signs of poor Chama dynamics. Pay particular attention to frequent unanimous decisions, as these can be a sign of Chama think bullying or joy riding. If there are frequent unanimous decisions in your group, consider exploring new ways to encourage people to discuss their views, or to share them anonymously.

Keep in mind that observing how your Chama interacts is an important part of your role as a leader. Many of the behaviors that lead to poor dynamics can be overcome if you catch them early.


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