What are the best practices for training new community members?


Here is a part of the crew we had for our Advocates session in April 2022! (We can’t all fit on one screen anymore!) :slight_smile: Thanks to those who participated!

In our May session, one question that came up was about the best practices to train new community members in sociocracy. In my breakout group (we now often have to split groups because there are many of us!), we had Janie from Prairie Hill Cohousing (Iowa, USA), Aukje from Kawartha Commons Cohousing (Ontario, CA), Kathleen Walsh from Columbia Ecovillage (Oregon, USA), Kent Smith from Eden Community (Texas, USA), and myself, Audrée, from la Tribu Sylvilisée (Québec, CA). Here is what our collective intelligence produced.

  • :hibiscus: Almost every community uses the Empowered learning circle (ELC), SOFA’s video-led beginner sociocracy course. It is 4 sessions, guided with short videos, which lead participants to experience sociocracy in action. This training comes with very well summarized readings on each week’s theme. Many communities have found that having an experienced person in the learner group really helped the learning process, and I agree.

  • :tulip: Many communites have also seen that is it good for new members to come to meetings as observers. Also, make sure to choose the circles which have implemented sociocracy more thoroughly. It is not uncommon that in a community, sociocracy is not implemente evenly in each circle, and it’s good that new members can see it well done before jumping in circles themselves.

  • :herb: Having something experiencial early in the training process helps get people on board. Role-selection is often a very appreciated, bonding experience and it touches many aspects of sociocracy (rounds, consent process, transparency, feedback, circle roles). After trying it, most new members were convinced that they wanted to learn more. It is the first thing we do in the ELC!

  • :blossom: Some of us have developed our own personalized 1 hour to 1 day trainings. I have a 1-hour training in French, if anyone is interested, email me - audree.morin@sociocracy.org!

  • :sunflower: Many communities add a section about how they do sociocracy internally: their own circle structure, roles, aims, domains, mission, vision…

  • :four_leaf_clover: Communities Magazine has good introductory articles.

is there more wisdom your community has gathered about integrating new members to your sociocracy practice? Please share it with us here in this thread!

If you would like to participate to our live discussions, it’s always a good time to sign up. Our next session is on June 13, 11:15 am eastern time (Montreal). Write to advocates.signup@sociocracyforall.org. That’s me! :wink:

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Because we are such a small community, we haven’t had enough new people at any one time to do a repeat of the ELC training for them. Instead, we have the new people watch this SoFA video, and read the “Sociocracy: A Brief Introduction” ebook. We give them three handouts: the SoFA decision making one-pager, a cheat sheet on the leader/facilitator/secretary roles, and a copy of our circle aims/domains.

By the time new Members join, they’ve already observed a few meetings, and they seem to pick up the rest as they go along. We also make a copy of Many Voices available.

Thanks so much Lauren! I’m in the same situation, for our very beginning community. I was anticipating the need to train new members and not really knowing how to proceed with one at a time, and this is very helpful! :slight_smile: