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Back Off A Little

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AS has been stated here before, I think that both myself and our District is very lucky to have an outstanding DE.

I have been a member of the District Key 3, for six years, this will be seven. Over these past years we have only failed to reach Quality District one time. One year, out of all four districts in our council, we were the only one to reach it, and last year we were one of two.

The year that we didn't was due to a lack of recruited Cub Scouts.

We have never in the past six years failed to meet our unit,popcorn,or financial goal.

I have to admit that Quality District, has been the goal that I have gone all out to get. And even if I do say so myself, we have done a really good job.

I am aware of some of the other stuff, that the DE,has to deal with, but my thinking is that as we have no part in setting these goals, they really are not our goals. Yes it is great when the DE, is part of the Winners Circle, but that is her goal her award and is not shared with the district. The same can be said for her critical achievements. They belong to her and we have no ownership in them.

We have been blessed with a Field Director, that is pushing the heck out, my DE.

He is giving them (All the DE'S,.) So much "Busy Work" That they or at least mine, is not getting the basic job done.I really do want to see her out and about visiting all of the Chartered Organizations, but due to the junk in the darn Critical Achievements, it is just not happening.

Of course junk like this rolls down hill, and as he pushes her, she trys to push us.

Much as we all want to see her do well and shine,it has got to the stage where our District Commissioner, is reaching "Burn-out."

My feelings are that we are spending more time trying to make the professional staff look good then caring for the district.

When will these Nit-Wits, wake up and see that the entire answer to all of our problems lies in the program.

A Quality Program, will retain the youth and bring more in,the families of these youth will be more lightly to support the program and the Council. The Families are the community, and just like the junk that is now rolling down to us, a good program will roll and grow.

Goals are a good tool, but we are nearing the stage where the Critical Achievements, and the other stuff will put the entire organization in a critical position.

I'm not sure if we are a stand a lone case, or if this is happening everywhere.

But if we go back to Baden-Powell, we will see that he was not keen on the idea of paid professionals in Scouting. When I look at the time that is spent raising money to just pay the wages, at times I have to think, do we need them all ?

Does a Council with 10,000 youth members need a staff of seven professionals? Half these youth are in the Learning for Life program, which has its' own staff.

We as a District Committee, know what our job is, we break our backs, working to build the District, we don't want someone who is a full time employee, spending more then half the time doing busy work, that is doing little or nothing to help OUR DISTRICT, and we sure as heck don't want anyone making life any harder for us because they are doing it.

So it is time the powers that be, take a look at what the role of a professional Scouter is. If they fail to see it, one day soon they are going to wake up to find that because they have not done what was expected by the rank and file members, all the busy work in the world will not save their jobs.

So now is the time for them to back off. After us baby boomers are gone they will be left with the "What's in it for me," generation, then the fun will really start.(This message has been edited by Eamonn)(This message has been edited by Eamonn)

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"When will these nit-wits wake up and see that the entire answer to all of our problems lies in the program."


First of all, your quote should have ended in a question mark. Secondly, it is insulting.


I'm angry and will not address the original entry at the present time.


I'll answer twocubdad, however.


All professionals in the BSA have critical achievements. Critical Achievements are goals on which the professional is evaulated and rated for the purposes of management. They are designed to address the needs of the position in measurable and important areas. They are designed to drive a quality program as well as meet the basic needs of the council.


Critical achievements often include membership numbers, new unit numbers, FOS numbers, camp attendance, popcorn, volunteer recruiting, etc.


Each critical achievment (usually there are 8) is rated on a scale of marginal performance (the minimum required for the position,) expected performance (the standard,) significantly exceeds and far exceeds. Raises and promotions are based on the level of achievement.


There are differing philosophies on critical achievements, but all are designed based on need, achievability (far exceeds is obviously tougher to achieve than expected performance,)and measurable.


A membership critical achievement, for example, might look like this:


"Achieve 1,000 members by 12/31/2003."


Marginal performance -- 950

Expected performance -- 1,000

Significantly Exceeds -- 1020

Far Exceeds -- 1040


Base (last year) 950


So how does a DE make sure the program grows? In several ways -- make sure there are commissioners helping unit leaders put on a quality program. Make sure the training team has all the tools it needs to train every leader in the district. Follow up with units to make sure they're recruiting and that you know where the market share can be improved (for example, some "busy work" I gave my DE's was to look at their membership numbers for each grade in each of their elementary schools and compare it to the number of youth in each grade.) They might have thought it was busy work, and so did some of their volunteers, but now they're glad they know where they need to help units improve their tiger program, or change their bear leader.


I tell my DE's to share their critical achievements with their key volunteers -- in my experience, people will help you achieve them if they know what they are. Some do not wish to share their critical achievements, and this should be respected as well. Critical achievments, are a part of their job and people are often not comfortable discussing their job performance with anyone other than their boss (and some don't like to do that, either.)


I hope this answers your question Twocubdad. I'm now going to finish the laundry and enjoy the rest of my Sunday. I'm going to try to forget that I was called a nit-wit by a frustrated district chairman -- I'm sure I've been called worse.



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I'm not angry. And sometimes my DE's think the work I give them is busy work. Many of them have called me much worse than a nitwit. (Although I didn't see that reference.)


They don't like keeping track of things, like how many schools have join nights scheduled. Who is covering each school? Are the flyers delivered? Is there a budget for the camporee? Which donors have been contacted to date? Which ones have been thanked? Our program is complicated and a lot of things need to be kept track of. There are many personalities that are within the ranks of professional Scouting, it is sometimes hard for some personalities to see the value of keeping track of such information.


Sometimes what a DE thinks is busy work really is becoming an adult and making sure that all the details to help make a district run smoothly are completed. Its easy to forget things. I think you should tell your DE to stop being a whiner and get this "busy work" done. It's human nature to complain about things, it is hurtful to the movement when such things start dividing us. If you really thing the work that is being given is "busy work" call the field director. I would meet with you if you called. And I would be willing to explain why I was requiring the work I was requiring.


I think the nature of critical achievements is what makes being a district executive have value. There are so many things they can spend their time on, here are the ones that we will hold you accountable for. It is easy, and more fun, to do things that volunteers are much more capable of. For example. A DE might have a CA (critical achievement) about the number of trained leaders in a district. Does that mean that they should start running all the trainings? Or does it mean that they should work on recruiting good volunteers and getting them the materials to put on a good show. It's a lot more fun to train than to do the support.


As for how many professionals should be in a council? That is up to the volunteer board to decide with your Scout Executive. Some districts need more staff than others. An urban district will not find the level of volunteer capability that a suburban district might. Rural districts have lots of windshield time for the DE. Instead of doing things, they are always driving somewhere. One of my rural guys logs more than 40,000 miles a year. That is more than a 1000 hours of driving.


You are right about Baden Powell and his feelings about pro's. He thought we weren't needed. He also thought that training junior leaders was the job of the Scoutmaster. Why then do so many districts and councils take this job into their own hands? The question here is, is he always right? Remember, BP died feeling that he was a failure for not preventing WWII, even he is wrong sometimes. The truth is that Scouting is stronger here than in England because we have professionals and volunteers together. It is also weaker because we sometimes fail to work with each other.


Winners Circle is an award, not something that should be used to beat someone up with. I bet if you read the critical achievements you would find that they have been written in such a way that they cover the basic expectations of what that employee should be held accountable for. The whining comes along when a DE decides that results are too hard and perhaps if they whine loud enough someone will let them play rather than work. I typically call that being a crybaby, but then, I am one of those mean field directors that expect them to get things done.


Just a few thoughts!



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While I'll hold off calling anyone a nit wit -- at least for now :) -- I think Eamonn does have a point. I'm not so concerned about the amount of busy work my DE has, but I am concerned about how much he tries to push down to me. Here's an example:


I'm the new camp director for our district cub day camp. As such I was "invited" to make a presentation at our Council's camp promotion dinner. Having been in the marketing and promotions business at one time (and having been wised-up by the out-going camp director), I asked how many Cub Scouts from my district will be attending the dinner? None. How many of their parents had registered? None. Pack camp coordinators? None. Cubmasters? None. So, I ask, to whom are we promoting summer camp? Answer: the members of the council and districts camping committees. Since I don't anticipate any of these folks will likely register for day camp, I politely declined the invitation.


That's when the full court press began. I got a call from our DE. I got a call from the Field Director. I got another call from the DE whinning that the Field Director (his boss) was going to have to do the presentation for our district since I wouldn't be there. I got a call from our district camping chairman. I got a call from a friend of mine on the district committee. Finally, I got the "we need team players" call from the district commissioner. I finally said uncle despite the fact that not one of these people could adequately answer the question, how does this benefit the boys?


The dinner was just as I expected. (Did I mention it was a three-hour round trip drive on a week night?) Very nice dinner, well done presentations, all of absolutely no benefit to the program or boys.


Through it all, I had the strong suspicion that the reason for all this was that it was simply a box on someone's check list -- probably the Field Director. Or as you guys have now labeled for me, one of his critical achievements.


One of the things we learned at camp school was to evaluate all our camp programs according to how they related to the core values of Cub Scouting. If a program element doesn't advance a core value, we need to modify or drop it.


All I ask is that a similar cost/benefit analysis be applied to the tasks the higher ups -- both professional and volunteer -- send my way.

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First and foremost,in answer to dststeele. Yes Sir you are right I'm very frustrated, however you are also very right that I was very wrong to use the term Nitwit,

Please accept my deepest apology.

Having said that, let me for a minute explain why I'm so frustrated. I had just received an E-mail, from my district commissioner, telling me that he was about to quit. The reason being that our Cub Scout Camping Chair. Had not made two Cub Camping promotions, and the DE, was upset, she had sent him a long E-mail, crying about her Critical Achievements, not being met.

Harsh as it may sound, these goals are not our goals, we have no ownership in them.

If my boss gives me a job to do, he has given it to me. So I have two choices, I go ahead and ensure that the job is done, or I don't do it and run the risk of being fired.

As a key 3 we set the goals for Quality District, we own these and break our backs to get the job done.

I have to go to my "Real Job" now but do want to add to this later.

I do feel bad that you are upset, and want you to know that this was not my intention, so again, please accept my apology.

I'm very sorry.

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Apology accepted. I wasn't in the best frame of mind either. Saturday my staff and I spent several hours in an unheated warehouse distributing spring popcorn to units. I then spent several hours on Sunday putting the payments into the Trail's End system. It wasn't working very well, so I thought I would take a break on Scouter.com and read that (maybe) we don't need professionals. Seeing that when I'm working on day 14 of a 20 day stretch with no day off just rubbed me the wrong way.


I'm not upset anymore.


I can also understand why you were frustrated. However, it seems to me that the problem lies in your camp promotions chairman not doing presentations. Is he/she leaving Cubmasters doing soft shoe dances? I'll grant that the DE shouldn't have been crying to the district commissioner. She should have been talking to you.


I agree that her critical achievements are hers and don't expect any volunteer to go out of their way because a DE has a critical achievment to meet.However, I think I'm safe to assume that you do care about getting kids to camp, which is the real issue that needs to be addressed.


As to Twocubdad -- if the purpose of the dinner was to get the district and council camping committees up to speed on the latest and greatest info about upcoming summer camps, it was probably a good use of time. If it wasn't, you should pass your feelings along to others so it doesn't happen again.



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A strange thing happened tonight. I had a meeting with the staff of our Wood Badge. I never really thought about what their roles in Scouting are or were. They are just really great Scouters.

The course mentor, is our council Vice President of Program. He was the District Chair. of my District, and served for ten years, before handing it over to the one before me. Then there was the current and past Chairs of one of the other Districts, the current chair, is a Lutheran Minister.

Mike, the V.P, was teasing the Minister, saying that now that we have him on the staff, we will be sure of good weather.

Gene, the Minister, was very quick to answer, that he was in sales, not service.

Somewhere, hidden in that is a message for us all.

Maybe if we had Genes' outlook we might be more able to do a better job.

There are a few things that RMV, mentioned, that I think do need to be addressed.

I have all the information that is needed to take care of all the things that you brought up.

I have always thought that having a DE, act as a delivery person is not only a waste of time, but very expensive. Fedx, does a really good job.

Last year we had the highest percentage of trained leaders in the nation, and each district had a list of all training that the leaders had taken, thanks to the work of the district training committees.

Somewhere, I think it is Hawk Mountain Council, there is a council, that has not dropped a unit in many years. I have been told (By a Scout Exec, when I attended the conference on district service at Philmont.) That this was due to the fact that each year every Chartered Organization had a meeting with: The DE, District Commissioner, Unit Commissioner and the Unit Leaders, at this meeting they sang the praises of Scouting, making the organization aware of how well things were going, details like how many boys had gone to camp, and how many had advanced.

This type of busy work is the stuff that I think is great and if what I have been told is true, what a great record.

You are right about my hero - Baden-Powell, not always being right, but if we look at many great men, they had a vision, that while it has not yet been met still lives on. So WWII,and many other conflicts and wars have happened, but I for one still hold true to the idea that Scouting can bring the youth of the world together and one day they will lead us to a world of peace.

I will have to look up the TAY, before I will let you get away with Where Scouting is stronger.

I do wholeheartedly agree that the critical achievements are the way to ensure that your employees are doing the job, however they must understand it is their job. Just like the Cub Scout camp promotion, if that was on a list that my boss gave to me, I would do everything possible to ensure that I was there at each and everyone of them. Why? Because that would be my job. If I worked for whoever was assigning these and I thought it was too much or out of line, I would have to let that person know, at the time it was assigned.

My boss wanted us to make a budget for this year which was to cut expenses by five percent, we came back with the numbers that showed how this wasn't possible, so we only cut three percent. Most of the people that I have met in Scouting are capable of compromise, yes even those tough hard nosed Scout Execs !! (That was an attempt at humor.)

Maybe when all is said and done we are all in "Sales, not Service" Maybe the Service Department is on a far higher level ?

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OK, I think I see a basic flaw in the system. In order to meet his/her "critical achievements", the DE MUST delegate the work. It's impossible for one person to do it all (although I've seen some try). Unfortunately, the only people available to delegate work to are the volunteers. As a volunteer, the work is VOLUNTARY, and I can't be held accountable for it in any meaningful way, other than to be persuaded, coerced, or replaced. Therefore, while he can and must delegate responsibility, he cannot delegate accountability...a fatal flaw. So I understand that the DE has to be, first and foremost, a salesman, convincing people who are volunteers (and perhaps somewhat reluctant at that) to use their leisure time do the grunt work that he doesn't have time to do, IN ADDITION to their REAL "day job" work that puts the bread on their families' table.


This thread explains a lot to me, and I am glad we are having this discussion, although the name-calling was regrettable. But also regrettable was the recent District Committee meeting where our DE literally (no kidding) stood up, took over the meeting and YELLED at those in attendance, because we were not going to "meet our numbers" for QD and he was having his annual evaluation the next day. I, for one, was appalled, disgusted, humiliated, and demoralized. As a volunteer (remember the "voluntary" concept?), who is sitting in 3 registered positions, I was ready to walk out. I don't even take that kind of abuse from my employer. But then I remember the "irksome tasks" thing and hang in there.


I work in a profession where a mistake or not meeting a goal means someone will die or become disabled. That, I take seriously. Forgive me if I don't get real worked up because a Cub Pack with 5 registered boys folded. As B-P said, Scouting is a "game with a purpose". That's all it is...a game. Growth of Scouting is nice and a worthy goal...but kept in perspective, it's not the end of the world...unless you're a DE, I guess. Now I understand the high turnover rate after one or two years in the job. DUHHH.


So, while I will "do my best" to help meet "critical achievements" for the good of the program that I love, their are some pros out there who need to keep in mind that their career success is not my responsibility...nor do I expect them to lose sleep over mine. I will do what I can, where I can, and as much as I can for the team...but I (and my wife!)will decide how much that is.

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I can think of no good reason any professional would raise his/her voice in anger at a meeting -- either with volunteers or other professionals. A DE who does this because their district didn't achieve quality has bigger problems.


I think most professionals realize that volunteers are volunteering and try to keep it fun and feel-good as much as possible. I think clear communication on both parts is vital -- who's going to do what. If one or the other parties can't come through, they need to make it known.


While I think it's very important that professionals need to remember that volunteers are volunteering, I think it's important for volunteers to remember that professionals are working. (I say this for the benefit of readers.)


When it's late in the evening, please don't expect your DE to stand around talking about Scouting into the wee hours. If the DE has to lock up the church after roundtable, help him or her get people moving so he or she can go do something fun (or just go to sleep.)


Just a few thoughts.


Perhaps we should change the name of this thread to volunteer/professional relationships. I like that better than "Back off a Little."



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Wow! scoutldr -- you said it. I really thank you for putting it so eloquently what I've been feeling.


Our DE isn't the take over a meeting and start yelling kinda guy but we can definitely feel his stress and desperation levels. His last performance evaluation was the same day as our roundtable.:(


I may copy your post and share it with others. I really do appreciate your words and your ability to put it all back into perspective.


Now I need to head to our district committee and roundtable meetings.

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Scoutldr, makes a lot of very good points.

But here is an example of the kind of stuff that makes my blood boil.

Our Family FOS Campaign.

Kicked off last October, I held a meeting for all the presenters, where we covered the Who, How, What, Where, and tried to get the When.

The When is hard at that time.

At the November, roundtable most of the units signed up for a date. The Packs are easy, it normally happens at the Blue and Gold Banquet. Troops are a little harder to tie down, it is normally done at a Court of Honor, and not all the Troops have set dates for these.

I did try to get a date from all of them by phone. But one just wasn't sure when. However they are a troop that always does a good job. In fact their Chartered Rep. Is also an Assistant Council Commissioner. This Guy never misses a troop meeting and is the life and soul of that troop.

I arrive home to an E-mail, from the DE, She tells me that the Field Director wants/needs the date of that troops FOS presentation.

The Field Director and this chap were at the same meeting five days ago.

This chap is retired, why can't the DE, or the Field Director pick up the phone. (The DE, has the time to E-mail me !!)

So I phone, and he still has no idea.

Now, I'm E-mailing the DE,She will fax the Field Director and they still won't have an answer.

Will the FOS presentation get done ?

Yes, when the unit is ready.

Did everyone know this, yes. But if they didn't we sure took a scenic route to find out.

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Eamonn --


Can't blame you a bit for your frustration. It's understandable.


Just a few words to extend a hypothesis of what's going on in the office -- they're probably hurting for money like every other council I'm aware of in this economy and want to know when they can count on that particular troop's financial support (both in terms of cash and pledges.)


They (meaning the Field Director or DE) could pick up the phone and call the Scoutmaster for the date, but may feel that it's better to have the call come from a volunteer. As I've seen from this forum and from personal experience after 4 years as a Field Director -- people feel beat up and pressured when called by a Field Director or Scout Executive, but respond to a fellow volunteer.


It's not fair to the Field Director and not fair to the volunteer, but if the response ends up in a more solid council from a youth perspective, I'll bow to reality.



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A couple of sayings going around the profession I'll toss out. I toss them out in agreement with the underlying current running through this thread that the professional's critical achievements are not the volunteers' . . .


(Please don't be offended. They are intended to give a professional viewpoint and not a policy interpretation.)


"Ashes to ashes, what the volunteer doesn't do, the professional must."


"If it weren't important, it wouldn't have to be done."


Having said that, I should also explain that I'm a firm believer that professionals (and volunteers) perform much better when they understand why a task is important. With the understanding, they pursue it with vigor and ardor -- and it gets done. Without, things falter.


If your asked to do something, and it doesn't seem important, ask more questions. If your DE doesn't understand, take it to the next level. If the originator doesn't understand, it probably isn't worth doing.



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It seems to me that a lot of the problem is that someone, be it the Field Director, or one of the Scout Execs. Has "Things" that he/she thinks are important. These "Things" are not shared with anyone. I have sat on our Executive Board and there is never a word about these.

These are given to the DE.

I don't know what input they have on how and why. But that is fine. As the Boss, that person has the right to set goals for his workers.

We volunteers, at the District level are aware that we are helping the district and the council meet the long term plan of the council.

I like to think that we do a good job, yes we have the odd moan and groan, and may like or dislike one person more then another, we are still human !! But as dsteele, stated we perform better when we know the why.

Then there is the "What may be imporant to you, might not be, to me."

I was at another council last summer, and visited their Council Camp site. It was outstanding, all sorts of new buildings and improvements. The Scout Exec, was a really super nice chap. We walked around the site, all the time me saying how good it was and what a great job they must have done getting the money for such a great camp. He shook his head and said yes, but it doesn't mean a thing, all they want is numbers.

The poor chap looked so forlorn, I didn't have the heart to ask who "They" were. Sad to say this fellow is no longer working for the BSA.

Who sets the goals for the Councils?

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