Consistent communication creates a vibrant, active community full of talkative and engaged rosters. Some classes have 'it,' some don't, and can feel like such a mystery at times. How do we help rosters feel more engaged and connected? We've got six tips to think about as you begin interacting with your small groups.
1. Introduce Yourself
Think back to your experience as a new PATHFINDER roster. Make a post introducing who you are, when and why you became a part of PATHFINDER, and why you chose to become a CA. While I know many of you write about this in your onboarding emails, be sure to post it again in your small group Class page or in your chat. Post pictures of yourself in Events, training, or your Befores/Durings/Afters. Think about what was relevant to you when you first heard about rucking as a civilian training idea, or if you were introduced to it during a military career, and talk to your rosters about it.
You don’t have to be a great writer - just write about what interested you in rucking, training, and how it’s changed you. You could finish the post by asking your rosters about how they learned about rucking. Something clearly motivated a roster to join PATHFINDER. Find out what it is, and make a connection.
From @Shannon Bass
My posts to my group mirror my life! I will post a short video while I'm rucking, or of a particular exercise. I highlight Amy's workouts to try and prevent them from looking elsewhere.
I'm very active in the first week with multiple posts per day, with the goal of conditioning them to watch the page and ask questions and make me seem accessible.
Always be sure to provide linked, or sign-posted, information to PATHFINDER resources. We are working hard behind to scenes to constantly add quality content to our programming. Rosters need to know where to find things. They need to know where workouts are, how to bookmark the log page, what Everything You Need To Know's are and where to find them. Show them the ropes!
If your group is full of experienced or returning rosters, jump into a more complex conversation - about an event, about training or about how their training has changed over time.
You’ll always have lurkers and super users. They need and likely expect different things. What they all have in common is - they ruck. And it’s still an activity that many people haven’t heard of or don’t know how to synthesize. The act of coming together as a community normalizes the “weirdo” - which is what any good community really does. We’re a tribe. We stick together.
2. Schedule Your Posts
LINK YOU NEED: How To Schedule Your Facebook Posts
Scheduling your posts can feel like the opposite of spontaneous interaction. But when you take the time to schedule your posts, you're insuring that you'll interact with your rosters at least every week (although we recommend two - four interactions a week). Schedule them for a time when you know you'll likely be online anyway - possibly lunchtime or in the evening. Then, when the conversation gets started, you're around to talk but the pressure of "what do I say?" is minimized since you've already dealt with that.
Scheduling posts is also really important to keep up with our weekly workout schedule that's posted on the main page and in the Course Advisors Facebook page. You can schedule it, get it out of the way, and get on to the more fun aspects of CA'ing.
3. Keep the Conversation Going
Consider your rosters path and build conversations around topics. We're proud of our "No Wednesday's" reputation where any question can be asked and answered honestly. You could think about what your rosters have responded to previously and begin to tailor the questions you ask. Then you're better able to personalize the things you post about.
Perfection is the enemy of engagement, so keep things simple, fun and open. Phrases like “In my experience,” and “from my perspective” encourage conversation - you’re opening the floor for rosters to agree, disagree or engage further. Topics can be things as simple as dog pictures, patch boards, what do you keep in your ruck, what snacks do you like on the 12-miler, etc. The simpler the topic, in fact, the wider the chance for engagement.
4. Keep them Motivated!
Your role as a PATHFINDER Course Advisor is, first and foremost, a roster champion. Our incredible reputation is because of Course Advisors like you, who've shared their time and expertise to benefit other rosters. You can help keep rosters motivated because you've done the hard work of motivating yourself (when you might have rathered do something else).
A mini-leaderboard might make sense. @Matthew Anderson posts a screenshot of his logs every few weeks to motivate his rosters and it serves two roles - it rewards those doing well and sets a fire under those who need to step it up. Not everyone is going to respond to that, and if you have a lot of Life or Forward rosters, it might not be the best choice. But it you have a group of hard chargers, it might be exactly the motivation they need.
@Kristi Devenyi does incredible roster call-outs throughout programming. Rosters love feeling seen and having their accomplishments noted in the group. Every week, take a quick tour through your CA dashboard and see who met what goal the previous week. Make a group post applauding their efforts - even if they finished a book. Maintaining motivation happens over time, and the small reward of being noticed for an accomplishment can make a big difference in participation.
Sometimes we need a personal accountability buddy. CAs may not always be able to facilitate this due to time, and some people may not be in ruck clubs where a potential accountability buddy is already there. Open a thread on your Class group Facebook page or chat asking if there’s anyone who wants an accountability buddy. Rosters can match themselves up and create even more of a connection.
Start an honest conversation about motivation. I'll be doing a blog post about this topic mid-way through class (around week 5) that goes in-depth into the differences between motivation and discipline. Teeing up a conversation prior to that gets your rosters thinking, assessing, and creating a plan when motivation may flag.
Take the time to notice if you have a roster who may be struggling with understanding the program, or how to make the program work in their lives. This is where your expertise as a Course Advisor really comes in. You're not there to solve their problems, and it's not your job to try - but you are there to act as support and a resource to show them how to get the most out of PATHFINDER.
5. Be visible
Rosters need to see you leading from the front. When you post your topics, include your own photos from the week with encouragement to post what they've been doing as well. Visual content - photos, videos, memes - all of it makes an impact. Host a zoom call with just your small group a few times and encourage lurkers to show up. They can keep their screen blank if they want to and just listen in. Have some questions to discuss already picked out to avoid an awkward lulls in the conversation. We're already zoomed-to-death in our daily lives, but for others, it may be the first chance they've had in a while to talk to completely new people. That kind of newness again can be energizing to a group.
Community is a vital part of the success of PATHFINDER, and one we promote as an integral part of the PATHFINDER roster experience. This is, in part, WHY you're a PATHFINDER Course Advisor -- to relate your hard-earned knowledge and expertise. Creating a connected community that supports rosters and engenders success starts with listening to your rosters needs and maintaining the relationship once it's established.
6. Keep in Contact
In every class, there's always quiet rosters, or ones who ghost. They don't do Facebook, they may not log, and they may not respond to your emails. That's OK. It's very likely nothing you did - some people just prefer different levels of engagement. Even if you never hear from them, send them an email a few times - check in, remind them of the support PATHFINDER provides (give them my email at email@example.com or Lyell's at firstname.lastname@example.org in case they might want it), and wish them well.
Over the last few weeks, I've spoken with a few rosters who were coming back from an absence, or finishing up their first class after several half-hearted tries. One roster told me how even though he never interacted with his CA in the class he joined prior, he appreciated they sent him a few emails. He felt connected, even though he wasn't able to participate like he wanted to.
Some rosters may have every intention of being a part of PATHFINDER and they may not be able to, due to health, work, or life circumstances. They may even feel ashamed about not finishing what they started. One guy I spoke with was really beating himself up over it. Always remind your quiet rosters, and especially ones that discount their efforts, that they did what they could do in that moment. Picking things up and starting again, even if they try and fail, makes you a stronger, more resilient person and athlete, and you have every expectation that they will succeed.
We hope this guide gave you some ideas to consider as you continue to grow as a CA with your groups. Please reach out with any additional ideas or thoughts! I'm sure this blog will continue to grow as we continue to advance the future of PATHFINDER Ruck Training.