A forum moderator recently asked me:
We had two members miss the last meeting, and they only told us at the last minute and had a non-emergency excuse. How do we bring this up and emphasize to them the importance of forum attendance unless it’s an emergency?
I responded with a series of questions for the moderator and forum to reflect on:
- What are the norms of the forum with regard to attendance? Was this a clear violation of that norm, or are your norms either ambiguous on this point or more forgiving? Does the forum want to revisit and clarify those norms?
- If this was a norm violation, does the forum have an established practice of clearing the air to ensure that concerns like this don’t remain unstated and unresolved? Are you prepared to do this clearing at the next meeting? Would it be helpful to call the absent member first, to have a private conversation, understand the situation more fully, and then decide how to discuss the issue at the next meeting?
- More broadly, is the forum aligned on its goals, and on why and how members can support each other in making forum a priority in our lives? Would any changes to the meeting timing, length, or venue make attendance easier both for the one who missed the last meeting and for others?
- At the highest level, are we using our precious meeting time to discuss forum-worthy issues, topics that we can’t share with many others in our life? Are we designing and filling our meetings with discussions that are truly priceless, can’t-miss, and that we would only want to miss if there is a true emergency in our lives?