Tip of the Week: Setting the Ground Rules

In case you missed last month’s HASS-hosted webinar, Coalition Building for Animal Care Organizations, today’s tip highlights the importance of setting ground rules for meetings. While The Association’s Katherine Shenar and Shelly Moore of Humane Society of Charlotte were focusing their presentation on coalitions, you may find these rules apply to many types of meetings.


“I cannot stress enough how important ground rules are to the success of any coalition,” says The Association’s Katherine Shenar, Executive Vice President. “It’s about making expectations very clear right from the very beginning, so there isn’t any ambiguity or misunderstanding of what’s permissible and what’s not.” While your list of rules needn’t be lengthy or overly detailed, you’ll want to outline what’s most important.

Katherine suggests some sample key guidelines:

Attend all meetings on a regular basis to ensure continuity in relationship building, communication and trust development

Keep coalition matters confidential

Communicate with respect, fairness and honesty

Never speak on behalf of the group unless designated by the coalition

Establish a conflict management procedure

  • “This way,” says Katherine, “when something does happen that’s a challenge for the group, you have a procedure to follow and use as a tool to get through.”

Set meeting protocols

  • These often include setting an agenda and agreeing to stick to it, starting and ending the meeting on time, and getting consensus when changing the agenda in the middle of the meeting. Adds Katherine, “You might also want to note what you want to avoid as a group, such as floor hogs and sidebar conversations.”

Once you’ve set your ground rules, stating them out loud is key. “It may seem obvious,” says Katherine, “but by vocalizing them and having everyone agree that these are the ground rules, you’ll get a lot better buy-in and success.”

Learn More

Webinar with Katherine Shenar and Shelly Moore: Coming Together to Accomplish More: Coalition Building for Animal Care Organizations
Tip of the Week: It’s Not About the Toilet Paper…
Tip of the Week: A Very Important Date
Tip of the Week: Doing It By The Numbers

Photo: Prasad Panchakshari/Unsplash


The Association is the only international society of leaders actively leading and managing community animal shelters/animal control agencies.


'Tip of the Week: Setting the Ground Rules' has no comments

Be the first to comment this post!

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

2020 Copyright The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement