The final stages of a group are something I’ve never really considered before now. I always just kind of thought of two groups of people – ones in my life and ones that are not, no matter what groups they “belonged” to within my life. I’m well-versed in building a team, selecting a team, growing a team and working as part of a team…but what happens when a group just “ends”? Well that was something I never really thought through.
Thinking back on an ending to a group that I have experienced takes me right back to my college days, but it was more than just missing out on seeing my college friends and closing the chapter of my life there. I am part of the National Sorority, Alpha Sigma Alpha. I’m still quite active as the Chapter Advisor for my college’s Chapter and truly embrace the notion of life-long membership, however now that I look back on it, each year we experienced a new cycle of development as a group, adding new members, figuring things out with all of our annual officers, getting in our groove and succeeding (or not!), and then at the end of the year, the group adjourned. We lost senior members by the truckload each year, which started the cycle over again.
Looking back, at my time as a Senior member and truly experiencing the “adjournment” of that group fully, I think that it was so difficult to leave that group behind because of the trust and relationships that were built and the pride we had in one another and our achievements. Because the two years leading up to my true “adjournment” in the group were so very successful, and even more so because I played an integral role in that success made it all the more difficult. I was dedicated to the cause, felt valued and knew I contributed. As part of our adjournment in our Sorority, we draft and write a heartfelt, teary eyed, funny and well-loved letter to each member of the Chapter that we want to share some wisdom or reflect on. We read these to the group and call these “Senior Wills” – we “will” items, knowledge and meaningful things to the sisters we are parting ways with. This ritual, though we know is always an emotional roller-coaster, was a well loved tradition that allowed us to share our emotions and honestly reflect on the impact of others in our lives in ways we weren’t able to in our day-to-day lives. This tradition, coupled with transition activities such as a retreat and other things to help us grow and part ways help us through this adjournment.
As the Advisor, I still see this happen each year and I notice now that as groups rotate in and out, the ones who seem or feel unsuccessful leave almost willingly and are almost unattached to the Chapter or it’s sisters. This clearly illustrates that a high-performing team with well constructed relationships are harder to leave behind because we value them, are proud of them, have true relationships among them and are comfortable in those groups all while being challenged as well. There’s always a time to part ways, move on, or adjust as a team or group…so in reflection, adjournment isn’t something that you don’t really have to deal with, we just don’t think about it so specifically. It’s the natural progression of growth and life!