Today, I want to talk to you about three different indicators that might mean your PTA or PTO is in trouble, and that you need to switch things up.
The switch that you’re going to need to make really depends on the kind of problem you’re seeing.
So let’s cover just three of the biggest indicators that something is amiss in your group.
This way, when you see one of these indicators, you can go ahead and make some changes to prevent further issues in your group and can re-adjust and work to get back on the right course.
Your PTO Meetings are Ghost Towns
The first indicator that something has gone awry in your group, is that literally nobody comes to meetings.
I shouldn’t say “literally nobody,” but instead that very few people are attending meetings.
Maybe it’s the same faces month after month.
Maybe not even all of your Executive Board embers are showing up.
Not everyone can be expected to come to every single meeting, but especially for Executive Board members, those volunteers should be coming to the vast majority of meetings.
The whole point of having them be elected as leaders is that they are giving consistent input and guidance to the group, helping to make decisions and shape the goals of the group.
If they’re not there, it means the work and the decisions are falling upon a smaller and smaller group of people.
This is when there can be really big issues for your PTO.
First, those volunteers who are showing up and making all the decisions are likely also the same ones showing up to volunteer for your PTO’s events and programs.
And eventually, they’re going to get burnt out.
Second, maybe the viewpoints, opinions, belief systems of the small few who are showing up don’t represent the larger group of members and leaders.
So, there’s an inherent mismatch.
And so it can further lead the group to get off track.
Check out this post for advice for how to prevent meetings that have turned into ghost towns.
The same advice can be used to reverse engineer a return to a healthy turn out, as can this resource to quickly boost parent involvement.
Volunteers are Hard to Come By
The second indicator that your PTO or PTA might be in trouble is if you hear crickets when you ask for help with anything.
If you are not hearing anything from anyone, it actually could mean a couple of different things.
It could mean that you’re asking for too much or doing too much.
Like some groups are go hard on many different front and try to do all the things and that’s awesome if it can be sustained.
But sometimes you have to take a step back and realize that there’s more going on in the world that other people have their attention kind of trained to.
So, you might need to pull it back a little bit.
It could also mean that people don’t feel like helping out is a good use of their time, and so you might have to really do some re-education or pivot in how you’re presenting the opportunity.
Another possibility is that do some education about why what you are doing as a group is important and why people should be involved.
There really could be a mismatch in the reality and the understanding for a myriad of reasons, and this issue is something to keep in mind.
Communication is Anything but Smooth
The very last indicator that your PTO or PTA might be in big trouble is that nobody seems to know what the heck is going on.
Are you having lots of miscommunication about what is going on and who’s doing things?
Perhaps the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.
This can make your group seem like a chaotic mess that no one is willing to touch with a 10-foot pole.
This is probably one of the easier indicators to get a hold of pretty quickly because the solution really is easier than the other indicators.
How to Recover from Trouble
So, you’re going to want to implement some systems and processes for getting everybody on the same page. If, when it comes to you personally as an officer, you’re going to want to get a planner.
You’re going to want to make sure that your officers and elected leaders have officer planners that have not only copies of your group’s bylaws and standing rules, but also the calendar for the year, upcoming events, and details to keep everybody in the loop.
You’re also going to want to have some kind of consistent form of communication with the executive team so that you guys can really stay on the same page.
Sometimes there are last-minute changes for things that come up and having established channels for communicating with the volunteers in charge of the program or event is an absolute must.
For example, my high school’s concessions team has a group text thread that is constantly dinging, with updates and people checking in with each other.
Ultimately, you want to have a method of talking with everybody to ensure that everyone stays in the loop.
The key to getting everybody on the same page is just to communicate better, more efficiently and be organized.
You also have to know what you’re going to say before you say it.
And have a plan that you’re following for the year, for the month, for the week, so that you all can work together as a team, rather than individual units trying to fill in gaps where they see them.
One of the most helpful resources for making all of this happen is the Success Kit for PTO/PTAs.
It not only features a planer kit for every leader in your group, but also loads of training, templates and done for you forms to help run your group more efficiently with instant organization.
Over to you!
PTO leaders who are really dialed into the health of their group should pay attention to meeting attendance, overall organization and planning within the group as well as ensure good communication between fellow PTO leaders and volunteers.
These are three strong indicators that your group is veering into unhealthy territory and overall your job as a PTO volunteer will be more difficult and not nearly as enjoyable as it otherwise could be.