Mutual Support

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Looking after people, being attuned to others' moods, needs and larger realities beyond the collective, caring for our wellbeing are all essential factors for creating a healthy work environment. The collective uses a system of mutual stewarding based on Loomio's practices. Every member, whether in the Dating or Fully Committed phase, has a specific person supporting them and every member supports another. Supported members have a safe space to express themselves and to be cared for and heard within the collective (while being reminded of the things they have committed to, etc.). Conflict resolution is also handled through the mutual support system, ensuring the distribution of personal care work.

While DisCO Buddies take care of mentoring, it is Mutual Support Pals who take care of another person's emotional wellbeing. Every person in the collective has a Mutual Support Pal checking in on them regularly. They are always available when their care-receiving pal needs someone to talk to.

Mutual Support Pals

The following section is mainly extracted from the Loomio Handbook's Stewarding Section with some modifications [1] to fit in with DisCO's characteristics.

Here are some of the things your Mutual Support pal can do for you:

  • be the ones you talk to if your coworker is being a jerk
  • support you to meet your personal development goals
  • help make sure you do the things you said you were going to do
  • put a human face on talking to 'the organization'

This, of course, has a degree of overlap with what your DisCO Buddy can do for you. The distinguishing feature is that your DisCO Buddy takes care of more objective procedural, "worky" stuff, while the Mutual Support Pal is there mainly for subjective emotional support. These roles will normally be filled by two different persons but they are not exclusively, you may also give and receive help from other members, but your assigned Buddies and Pals are ultimately responsible for checking in on you with regularity. DisCO Buddies only last for the duration of the dating phase, but you will always have a Mutual Support Pal. As we've spoken plenty about what your DisCO Buddy will do for you during the dating phase, let's now turn to what your pal does and when.

Mutual Support in Action

When you have an issue, you can approach the group through Mattermost. But if you need more intimacy or quiet, you always have a specific person you know you can turn to. Your pal can't solve every problem, but they are your point of contact to make sure the problem gets solved. If you don't know who to go to, you can always go to them.

Your pal is not there to manage your daily work. They are there to support you as an individual, and your relationship to the collective. They can be your mentor, or your guide, or your sounding board. If you ever get into a conflict situation, they’ll be by your side making sure you are well supported to a resolution.

Everyone working in DisCO has a Mutual Support Pal. These relationships facilitate connections across the collective, opportunities for exchanging insights, and a deeper understanding of individuals and areas of work. They also help us ensure that we're looking after people. Their work is not passive though, your mutual support pal isn't waiting for you to call them, they will check in with you regularly.

Principles/Policies of our Mutual Support System

  • All active members (Dating and Committed) have Mutual Support Pals and do Mutual Support work for someone else
  • Two people can't both be each other's MSPs
  • On occasion members can support more than one person at a time, but we generally stick to a one to one ratio
  • The Community Circle facilitates the Mutual Support system overall

Mutual Support relationships are shuffled by a random pair generator every two weeks. This way members get a chance to connect with as many other members as possible despite geographic differences or involvement in different areas of expertise, etc.

Informally, your Mutual Support Pal should check on you at least once a week, but should check in with you straight away if you signal any discomfort through your daily check-in. Formally, you should set a call with your Pal once per rotation (and the same goes for when you are being someone else's pal).

Every mutual support relationship is different, and there are many different approaches. Some are more conversational and friendly, with mutual sharing from both parties. Sometimes pals offer advice or challenges. Other times they simply listen. Sometimes they follow a more structured pattern, checking in on action points or measuring progress over time.

The important thing is that the approach works for the person being supported. Mutual support is their time to get the support they need to bring their best self to the collective.

Mutual Support Regular Calls

During the regular call, your pal might ask you questions like:

  • How was last month? What did you like or dislike?
  • What do you want to do differently this month?
  • What longer-term goals are you working on? How are you progressing on them since last time?
  • How can I best support you?
  • What do you need and how can those needs be met?
  • ...and sometimes the collective might suggest a prompt or theme for pals to bring up
  1. These boil down to changing some of the names and the timing of mutual support, as well as distinguishing between DisCO Buddies and Mutual Support Pals. In DisCO all members, whether Dating or Committed support each other.