Struggling with Straggling
I facilitate many group activities. One issue that occurs at virtually every session is the issue of latecomers. How do I deal with people who show up late?
Do you wait for everybody to show up before you start? Do you lock them out? Do you publicly shame them? These are but a few of the thoughts that have raced through my mind at the start of many sessions.
This is particularly difficult if you need to break the group into teams in order to have smaller group activities. If you try to incorporate stragglers into some of the groups that are already established it’s awkward and the group has to bring them up to speed, which is annoying.
So, stragglers are a problem. Also, they probably “straggle” to everything, so the brief time they have with me isn’t going to correct this deeply entrenched behaviour.
Here’s a quick “hack” that should work – especially if you often find yourself facilitating smaller group activities where the participants report back to the larger group at certain intervals. SET UP A STRAGGLER’S TABLE.
At the straggler’s table are the people who show up late. They form their own team. You still conduct the session with the other teams as planned, and bring the stragglers up to speed while the others start their activity. The stragglers then have to work faster to catch up, which is better than the entire group slowing down.
If the straggler’s won’t change their behaviour, we have to modify the design of our sessions to adapt.
There’s probably a wider lesson in here somewhere.