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Eamonn

The Right Person For The Job

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I have only sat on our Area Committee for a very short time. The meetings seem to be half a world away (300 mile round trip last night.) I am thankful for my white hair, it helps the other people feel more at ease with me, as I'm the youngest person in the room.I'm also very aware that I'm the least qualified person in the room. Everyone else has served as a Council President or is a Scout Executive. Most of the non-professionals are good at what they do in the real world,they are successful people from all walks of life, mainly the business world along with a few lawyers. In a nut shell these guys are good. They have proved track records in both Scouting and in their field of expertise.

I wish I could say the same about our Scouting Professionals.

No this is not me bashing our professional partners. Or me retelling war stories about a twit. I think a lot if not most of our professionals are doing a good job working with and for us volunteers and I'm very aware that we can be a real pain.

My concern is that we get a DE who is good. Good at working in the District and helping the District support the units. I don't care what his or her degree is in or what drew them to the profession. A DE who isn't any good will not last long and will see this and move on to do something else. Occasionally,they will part ways on less friendly terms. We had a guy who was doing a super job in a District in our Council, he became a Senior DE moved to another Council and hated it. So he quit and is now doing a wonderful job as a volunteer. I think that the BSA lost a very good employee. However I don't know all the reasons why he quit.

The road to the top for a pro, can have a lot of different paths. I am sure that those with more knowledge than I will help me out and correct me if I'm wrong.

The DE comes on board, we pack them off to DE Boot Camp (PDL 1) If they are around for about 3 years we make them eligible for promotion and they move up to Senior DE. Depending on the council they might stay or have to move to reap the benefits. By now they have completed PDL, 2 &3. Next stop is??

Field Director, I am OK with that. Hopefully they have seen what the job is and what needs to be done and can pass this on to the DE's. It's the next stop, that some will take that worries me. Next stop could depending on the size of the Council be Scout Executive, Assistant Scout Executive, or as we seen when our Field Director moved up, Finance Director.

Most if not all of these positions entail working with very large sums of money. It is my opinion that these guys and girls do not have the real training for this nor do they have the background.

We have moved a DE who is used to meeting goals of several thousand dollars into being responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more.I am aware that we might have sent these people off for more training. But five or six years ago these were the very same people that were struggling with School Sign Up Night. I know if I wandered in to my investment advisor's office and see him or her behind the desk I would run a mile.

I'm sure as I write our SE is working on the 2005 Council Budget. I haven't had a peak as yet but I'm guessing that it will be around one and a half million dollars. I really like our SE (most of the time!!) but I do not think that he has the training or the background to prepare such a budget.

As I sat at the meeting last night I was shocked to hear and see how bad the finances were in a lot of Councils, mainly the smaller ones. One Council had just kept expanding their line of credit, it had grown from $100,000, three years ago to $300,000. I don't see a lot of hope for that Council. No other Council will want to merge with them and take on that amount of debt. Someone asked if they had a Finance Director? The Regional guy said yes but when he asked her what she did the answer was that she helped the SE, and did what he asked. Another Council, is having big financial problems. The member of the Area Committee said that the Council President does see the problem, but the Scout Exec. Seems to think that "Everything will turn out OK."

I of course am aware that Councils are managed by volunteers and that a Council key3 should be on top of this from the get go and do have the talents and expertise of people in the community (The Board) to draw from. However as I look at all non-profit organizations, not just the Council I see that money is a vital part of us reaching our goal which is all about serving the young people.If we are going to do this we need to rethink the people that we are leaving to manage and handle these funds.

Eamonn.

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Why are the Pros that handle the funds not being trained to do so? How can they be expected to do a good job if they do not have the training? Shouldn't all the money jobs be left to the Finance Director; or do only some councils not have this position? (Hopefully these are not "dumb" questions, I am on the learning path to understanding what the pros do, in order to one day become one.)

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You have asked the question in a lot fewer words than I did.

My point is that the Finance Directors are not trained for the job.

For example our last Field Director has just been hired as a Finance Director. He was with us for three years, this year for the first time he was involved in one Council fund raising dinner. He in fact has had less to do with raising funds over the past three years than the DE's have. Now he has gone to a much larger Council and is responsible for finance?

The guy has no knowledge about Grant writing. No real knowledge about money. Is able to balance his check book, but I feel sure he is no financial wizard. On the job training is all well and good, but who suffers and pays for his mistakes while he is learning? We do!! Sad to say the hiring of staff is, in most Councils up to the Scout Exec. The Scout Exec. will have to carry the blame when a person that he has hired is not living up to the expectations of the board.

Sure we need people who share in the values of the BSA to work for the BSA,but I would feel happier knowing that the Finance Director has knowledge of Finance. In fact I would put this before Scouting knowledge. We are talking about vast sums of money.

Eamonn

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I have some thoughts on this issue based on what I have heard from others, but since I don't really know all the details of the hiring and promotion policies myself, I would mostly just like to say that I would be interested in hearing more on this topic.

 

Some other possible questions-

 

Is the professional system too linear?

 

Why is the turn over rate so high?

 

Can a council hire an outside expert? or do they have to choose someone off the list of eligible pros that BSA gives them?

 

Doesn't it seem the training, experience, and even education desired for a DE, an SE, a field directer, or a finance directer would be quite a bit different from that desired for any of the other positions?

 

 

It is my understanding that at one time, almost all of the new 2nd Lt. in the Army started out in combat units, mostly infantry. Many were infantry platoon leaders, some executive officers for a company. Then they went on to their specialized assignments later in their career.

 

Well, now the Army starts most of its officer out in jobs related to the specific branch they are being detailed to. Essentially, they decided that people going into many specialized fields would not benefit much from experience leading infantrymen or other combat troops, and that the time would be better spent in additional training in their specialty either through the Army's schools or on the job training.

 

So, do we have specialists or generalists in the Scouting profession? and which would we be better served by?

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Here's a thought as to why most professional leave (and a darn good Asst. SE told me this): poor management.

 

I the firm I worked for, being a top seller didn't meant you got more money, and maybe a promotion, but not necessarily a promotion to a management position. This was for a good reason: not everyone know, or ever will know, how to manage. Unfortunately, Scouting does not feel this way.

 

The DE's in my area are great, but they report to the most inept FD I have ever known. How did he get to this management job: simple, he "produced" in his previous roles as a DE and Finance Director. Making the sale is great, but it does not qualify him to manage people.

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