Identifying new activists

Having members approach you to become an activist is great, however often potential activists need to be identified and approached by yourself.

Whilst recruitment is primarily about fostering dialogue and gaining new members, if reps undertake recruitment activities they can also be an important means of identifying future activists amongst new or existing members.

So it’s good to have some idea of what to look for:

  • Observe each member’s behaviours, skills, attitudes, values, and personalities.
  • Identify ‘opinion–formers’ in a workplace.
  • Make sure each member has an opportunity to lead a project or task so that everyone understands the importance of ‘active membership’ - try to have small but clear and achievable goals and objectives outlined for each member.
  • Encourage members to enhance their skills by attending seminars, getting training and development and taking educational courses. Train and utilise your Union Learning Reps (ULR’s)
  • Keep everyone aware of your branch goals, objectives, and accomplishments.

Lead by example: Others look to you for direction, not only in terms of union work but also related to behaviour, ethics, and standards. If you want others to change, you must set an example for them to follow.

Be genuine: As a leader, it is important to be as real and honest as possible in your interactions with others. Let others get to know you. Being a leader doesn't mean being aloof. By interacting with members, you build rapport and trust.

Have passion: strong union reps have, and display, enthusiasm. Without it, you will soon find yourself facing burnout. Leadership is tiring and saps energy at a very high rate.

Showing that you are passionate about what you do and encouraging others to become active, to become passionate too, takes some of the workload off you. Talk about the enthusiasm that got you involved in unions in the first place, and that will rub off on others.

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