Leading Your People Through WhatsApp Group

Aef Setiawan
3 min readAug 2, 2017

Since everyone has smartphone and WhatsApp becomes popular in Indonesia, it has obviously changed people’s style in communication. Now they can be texting, sending and sharing information to each other more faster, more easier. They also able to create WhatsApp Group (WAG) for certain purposes.

Now on my smartphone, I have twenty WhatsApp groups with various types and purposes. Eeach group has different liveliness and noise level because it usually depends on the certain issue. If one of the members throw a hot issue, usually the group becomes noisy.

From those groups, Kopkun Instute WAG is the noisiest and busiest group. When I leave it for an hour, for example, hundred of notifications emerge in my screen. Then when I’m opening and scrolling, I feel like reading an essay because of the long discussion among the team.

Kopkun Institute (KI) is Non -Government Organization (NGO) that concern in social and cooperatives empowerment, located in Purwokerto, Central Java Indonesia. Founded in the late of 2014, it was involving many upgrading cooperatives project in Indonesia. Our member consists of practitioners, academics, activist, youth, and students. All of them are working voluntarily.

Since I joined this NGO as a volunteer two years ago, I learned more to Firdaus Putra, the managing director. Besides managing the organization, as usual, he was also managing the WhatsApp group, since it is important for controlling and organization in the digital era. From him, I learn how WAG could lead the working culture.

Creating WAG is easy, everybody can do it. Take your smartphone, open WhatsApp, go to create group feature, invite your friend, then voila!, your WAG is ready. It will be noisy at the first time, but no longer after that it goes to silent and dies. Our Director realized it, he analogizes the WAG as a working room.

He imagines a good working room is a space where people can be discussing, gathering, sharing and working. Because whole staff has their own activity, doing meeting and gathering every time sounds impossible. So that, he functioned WAG as virtual working room, a place where the staff can interact each other by phone.

It was not easy at first because almost the member were silent riders, including me. When he threw an idea to discuss only one or two members who response it, while others only replied with thumb stickers. Although less of response, he did it repeatedly in morning, noon even in the middle of the night.

Sometimes, I ever asked him why he does that patiently while his staffs ignore him. He explained that a WAG is also needed a leader just like in office. Without the leader, the group will die and dropped team morale. In the digital era, he explained, both leadership and working culture have been changed. However, not all people realize it.

Although today almost people are using a smartphone, their mind are not smart as their phone.They functioned WhatsApp conservatively only as chatting apps, not as a digital meeting flatform. And, this is a real challenge if you a leader, how you change those minds evolutively.

After two years, now the group is always crowded with notification. It becomes a working room that had imagined before. Each member has spirit typing long text, discussing and sharing information. For the tactical reason, we don’t need visual meeting because we has cordinating it on WAG. Yes, after two years the staffs paradigm are changed.

The positive atmosphere in WAG has a parallel impact in the field when we are working. Each staff engaged and connected feeling, although we less in the meeting, about once the time in a week. We can work together effectively our WAG plays as the working room.

As the youngest staff, I always learn how this organization is managed. And, the important one, how a WAG gives big influence both staff and organization productivity. It obviously shows that a technology could change working culture, and we need to adapt and embody with it.

Now, in digital era, you can lead your people through WhatsApp Group.[]