How can we take inventory of people's strengths while supporting them to try new things/learn new skills?

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The following responds to a question received during one of our structure workshops. In the workshop, we describe several roles that are common to name and assign in your organizing group's structure. The contents of this page include ideas from HUB team members on how group's we have been involved with encouraged team members to use their strengths, plus supported people in skilling up and branching off from their usual roles/tasks, all while working to balance power dynamics.

Suggestions from the HUB team

The team had several cultural and practical suggestions:

Uplift experiences and strengths
  • Give space for, and uplift, people's experiences and strengths, rather than flattening these to achieve 'pure' horizontalism.
Consider power dynamics for each role 
  • Consider a) how you'll prevent new members with high levels of experience from taking power, and support them in working within the established protocols of the group and b) how more experienced members can support less experienced members.
  • Mentorship, skill-sharing and role rotations help to avoid harmful power dynamics and hierarchies (see below).
  • Caretaking roles or admin/logistics (like note-taking, check ins etc.) can be roles that people avoid when members do not place value on them. This is a larger power issue. Group discussion should be had on why care and logistics roles are avoided if it is a recurring problem.

Hold space for reflection

  • Question at the beginning of your involvement (or at the beginning of each season): What would you like to do in your activism? What would you like to develop? (E.g. maybe you want to be the one to kick off circles of care?) (Translated from french)

Identify recurring roles and rotate them 

  • Identify roles that are consistently performed in your group. Ideally, try to make some or all of these roles rotatable, rather than assigning the same person to each role indefinitely. E.g. you could rotate roles such as meeting facilitator, note-taker, 'vibes-checker' etc. monthly.
  • Share in advance who will be next doing each role so that there can be an intentional and focused opportunity for up-skilling.
  • "We used a rotation system where we all starred (*) the roles/tasks in an excel sheet we would be interested in rotating into, leaving the ones we weren’t comfy taking on blank. If no one was interested in or down to take something on, someone who has taken it on before would buddy with someone new to the role until the next role rotation."

Example spreadsheet:

Ally Arnold Abba
Facilitator *


* *
Social lead * *

Build cultures of skill-sharing

  • If several people want to learn about the same thing, organize a training/process. Make room for learning. Even in the rush of organizing, see it as a priority. 
  • Embrace skill-sharing in the group culture. For example, every 2 weeks, hold skill sharing sessions where anyone can teach anything they know. 
  • Keep documents that include ‘best practices’ or 'things to know' for each role, if relevant to support people trying it for the first time. 
  • More experienced or knowledgeable members can create a workshop to share knowledge in a more interactive way with members.
  • Ensure every working group or role has teachers and those excited about gaining new knowledge.

Encourage and support trying new things

  • "Creating a culture of trying new things! Members who are more experienced can regularly invite new members, and even older members to bottomline something they wouldn’t usually do, sharing resources or mentoring so this person has support." 
  • If you put it at the centre, it will be taken care of. Name roles that need to be filled, and someone will likely be willing to step up!
  • Encourage everyone that group life should include 1 thing you're passionate about, and 1 thing that just needs to get done.
  • Emphasize the importance of resilience in your team (i.e. more than one person who does a certain task / knows how to do a certain task). This should encourage folks to try new roles/tasks (with support from things such as skill sharing or buddy systems)!

If you have any suggested revisions or additional resources to share related to the above content, please email them to

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