On the first day back after Labor Day last year, one of our clients - a campaign manager on a Congressional campaign in Florida, made a pledge to all his campaign team. He had been thinking about how to get the best from everyone for the following 9 weeks and wanted to avoid the mistakes of the past where door-knocking KPI’s were set and missed, where paid canvassers and volunteers mixed together and it all became a bit like drudge work. His pledge consisted of a few key points that really got to the root of team motivation I think.
Firstly, though he didn’t expressly say this, was leadership. What he pledged to the team was that nobody would outwork him, nobody would be asked to do what they were unable to do and that, if anyone had an issue, he was always there to back them up and support them. His personal pledge to work hard with them was important in establishing himself as a ‘doer leader’.
Secondly, he ripped up the notion of door-knocking goals. You knock the doors that you can get to, that is allowable within the constraints of your own life and what you feel comfortable with. Turfs were assigned to every team member but you were not going to be judged or criticized if you did not get to all of them. This handed ownership of the task back to the team members and set goal dimensions without demanding specific ‘numbers’.
Thirdly, he pledged to make it as easy as possible for them (luckily he was using Ecanvasser). He informed them they would not have to use pen and paper at all, they would not have to help with letter stuffing, or data entry or dial numbers from a spreadsheet. Everything would be simplified so they could capture data on their phones, sync and go home!
He pledged to thank people. Every time someone was out in the field (he could see when people were canvassing) he would make it his business to call them and thank them. Simple, but this was the most effective thing he did in keeping people motivated. He let them know their work was acknowledged and appreciated.
Finally, he did a weekly team update. By projecting the team’s progress on the big screen, everyone could see the doors knocked, could see the city turning from red (unvisited) to green (visited). They could see the average reception rating (their temperature guide to the voters), they could see the main issues being encountered, (by hashtag or by survey answers) and they could see the number of voters that had given the commitment to vote for his candidate.
These five elements came together to give him the most successful ground game campaign he had ever run, not only in terms of outcome but in terms of doors knocked per person, voter pledges and, in terms of team cohesion and motivation. One to think about for the next time out.
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