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MattR

Setting the tone with a new CSE

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, ParkMan said:

I think we have a different view of professionals in Scouting.  Professionals do not run Scouting - volunteers do.   We hire professionals because we recognize there are roles that benefit from having someone there full time to do them.

For example - if there are issues with the camporee - it should not be a professional's job to fix it.  That's the job of the district program chair or district chair.  Of course the professional should want to see it fixed - but that's why we have a Key 3.  The professional can sit down with the district chair and district commissioner and bring it up as a concern.  But, like in any organization, the person who's responsibility it is should be the one to address it.

I recognize that this seems idealistic.  To an extent it is.  But, our structure in the BSA is a mess.  Professionals who are doing too much, volunteers who are quitting because they are not empowered, unit volunteers who are frustrated because they expect professionals to fix things or care about things.  You want to empower volunteers - then you can't make them simply the job do-er for the professionals.  

 

Agreed, in the camporee example, the pro should talk to the Key 3.  But many pros either they don't care or there is a crew of unpleasant but long-tenured district vols that are difficult to deal with.  They are running things into the ground and it's easier just to avoid the subject altogether.  Or their responsibilities at the council level are such that even if they wanted to bolster the next camporee or heaven forbid even attend, they don't have the time.  If professional responsibilities have ballooned to the point where they can't or won't care about unit level scouting, it's time to reevaluate what is truly value added.

Edited by desertrat77
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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, ParkMan said:

I'll admit - I don't see quite the same thing.  In our council, our professional staff is quite busy.  But, for the most part, the things they worry about are things that most volunteers don't care that much about (fundraising, membership, etc...).

The bigger issue I see is that ownership at the council level really isn't clear.  We don't do a really good job of letting folks know who is responsible for specific things.  So, we have lots of volunteers with ideas that get given to the professionals.  Yet, many of those ideas have little to do with professionals and are really volunteer functions.  Our professionals don't do a great job of making that clear.  

For example - a volunteer will take to the DE about some change that needs to happen with training - that we should hold a specific class at a specific time, etc.  But, professionals really have little to do with training.  It should be much clearer who a recommendation goes to - but it's not because most of us don't know or understand the structure of how things work in a council.

I'd think this is the kind of thing the CSE could instruct his program & HR teams to deal with.  More clearly define professional & volunteer responsibilities.  

I am very glad to hear your council does things like it is suppose to do. Sadly not every SE does that. I can tell you in my some councils I have been in, pros will ignore volunteers in charge of activities, make additional demands, and even overruling volunteers who are in charge of events to the point that they take over. It has gotten to the point the point that some longtime volunteers no longer have anything to do with the council because of the professionals.

Edited by Eagle94-A1
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1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

I am very glad to hear your council does things like it is suppose to do. Sadly not every SE does that. I can tell you in my some councils I have been in, pros will ignore volunteers in charge of activities, make additional demands, and even overruling volunteers who are in charge of events to the point that they take over. It has gotten to the point the point that some longtime volunteers no longer have anything to do with the council because of the professionals.

Very true.  There are lots of great volunteers who have been disrespected by pros, and they vote with their feet.

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1 hour ago, desertrat77 said:

Agreed, in the camporee example, the pro should talk to the Key 3.  But many pros either they don't care or there is a crew of unpleasant but long-tenured district vols that are difficult to deal with.  They are running things into the ground and it's easier just to avoid the subject altogether.

This all seems very probable from a system which has grown a out of control.  

1 hour ago, desertrat77 said:

Or their responsibilities at the council level are such that even if they wanted to bolster the next camporee or heaven forbid even attend, they don't have the time.  If professional responsibilities have ballooned to the point where they can't or won't care about unit level scouting, it's time to reevaluate what is truly value added.

It's too simplistic to say that "they can't or won't care about unit level scouting."  We volunteers throw phrases like this around, but it can mean so many different things.  To me, a DEs job is to provide professional support such that a district functions at maximum potential.  That's where their focus should be.  A typical DE has something like 50 units in their district.  That gives them time for what - 30-45 minutes a week per unit?

I think that we've all been abusing the DE role for a very long time now.  I have district volunteers who want the DE to make photocopies.  Unit leaders want the DE to drop equipment off at their house.  etc.  A DE should be focused on making the district more effective.

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1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

I am very glad to hear your council does things like it is suppose to do. Sadly not every SE does that. I can tell you in my some councils I have been in, pros will ignore volunteers in charge of activities, make additional demands, and even overruling volunteers who are in charge of events to the point that they take over. It has gotten to the point the point that some longtime volunteers no longer have anything to do with the council because of the professionals.

I think many SEs are clearly in over their heads.  

I think we've had this discussion before.  But, if a professional overrules a volunteer and the volunteer has the ability to do so, the volunteer should nicely tell the professional to back off.  That's Bob for the input, but I've got this.  We've met for months and made decisions about the plan for the event.  Of course, it strikes me as off that you've got a situation where the professional isn't in the loop on the event planning.

If the volunteer can't stand up to the DE for whatever reason - then the volunteer need to go to the district chair.  The district chair can deal with the politics of the professional service.

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5 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

 It's too simplistic to say that "they can't or won't care about unit level scouting."  We volunteers throw phrases like this around, but it can mean so many different things. 

It may indeed be simplistic. But it's true for many. 

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

But, if a professional overrules a volunteer and the volunteer has the ability to do so, the volunteer should nicely tell the professional to back off.  That's Bob for the input, but I've got this.  We've met for months and made decisions about the plan for the event.  Of course, it strikes me as off that you've got a situation where the professional isn't in the loop on the event planning.

If the volunteer can't stand up to the DE for whatever reason - then the volunteer need to go to the district chair.  The district chair can deal with the politics of the professional service.

Ideally this is how it should work.  But here are the usual results, from my personal experience:

1. Pro shouts down volunteer.  Sometimes in public.

2.  It isn't always the DE.  It can be another pro throwing their weight around, sometimes the SE.

3.  The district chair is often no help because a) they are a name on a spreadsheet and not a real chair b) they meekly go along with the pro and won't back the volunteer, usually because they aspire to be a future WB CD, have an award pending, etc.) or c) they're completely in cahoots with the professional staff and won't back their district volunteer staff.

As mentioned earlier, if you are in a council that functions soundly, please count your lucky charms.  I've been in six councils and some of them were absolute chaos for volunteers.

Edited by desertrat77
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21 minutes ago, desertrat77 said:

Ideally this is how it should work.  But here are the usual results, from my personal experience:

1. Pro shouts down volunteer.  Sometimes in public.

2.  It isn't always the DE.  It can be another pro throwing their weight around, sometimes the SE.

3.  The district chair is often no help because a) they are a name on a spreadsheet and not a real chair b) they meekly go along with the pro and won't back the volunteer, usually because they aspire to be a future WB CD, have an award pending, etc.) or c) they're completely in cahoots with the professional staff and won't back their district volunteer staff.

As mentioned earlier, if you are in a council that functions soundly, please count your lucky charms.  I've been in six councils and some of them were absolute chaos for volunteers.

I don't mean to make light of it.

But, taking a step back to where this started.  I think this is a place where the CSE could choose to get involved.   We all hear these horror stories of bad councils.  Frankly, these are the kinds of problems that are killing Scouting.  The CSE could by all means start an effort to fix the professional/volunteer chaos.

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3 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

I don't mean to make light of it.

But, taking a step back to where this started.  I think this is a place where the CSE could choose to get involved.   We all hear these horror stories of bad councils.  Frankly, these are the kinds of problems that are killing Scouting.  The CSE could by all means start an effort to fix the professional/volunteer chaos.

Absolutely, I concur 100%.

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35 minutes ago, desertrat77 said:

Ideally this is how it should work.  But here are the usual results, from my personal experience:

1. Pro shouts down volunteer.  Sometimes in public.

2.  It isn't always the DE.  It can be another pro throwing their weight around, sometimes the SE.

3.  The district chair is often no help because a) they are a name on a spreadsheet and not a real chair b) they meekly go along with the pro and won't back the volunteer, usually because they aspire to be a future WB CD, have an award pending, etc.) or c) they're completely in cahoots with the professional staff and won't back their district volunteer staff.

As mentioned earlier, if you are in a council that functions soundly, please count your lucky charms.  I've been in six councils and some of them were absolute chaos for volunteers.

You forgot #4: Volunteer is replaced in their position by someone who will do the professional's will (Not only have I seen this,  I was even encouraged to do this when I was a DE to have more compliant members of the district committee) 

#5: Pro, specifically SE, finds some reason revoke volunteers membership ( seen that happen twice, and it almost happened a third , all because the volunteers he did stand up to the professionals)

 

57 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

If the volunteer can't stand up to the DE for whatever reason - then the volunteer need to go to the district chair.  The district chair can deal with the politics of the professional service.

 As Desert pointed out, chairman have been usually figureheads who do the professional's bidding. Heck I was even told to look for malleable people of influence and  affluence by my SE back when I was a DE.

Personally I would rather have a loyal opposition who had the best interests of the Scouts as their #1 concern. I know when I was DE, there were indeed challenging meetings with disagreements. But everyone respected each other since we all shared #1 goal. 

 

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Several years ago, one of our districts overwhelmingly elected a long-service volunteer as DC. 

The SE vetoed the election,  with no reason given.   Consensus is that elected DC was regarded as insufficiently servile.   The vetoed guy was and is much liked and respected. Every year, there he is every day of Summer Camp, running the Health Lodge (ER  RN). Does really well with kids and adults.  Supernaturally calm in emergencies.

Another election.  Same guy elected - unanimously this time. Vetoed again.  No reason given.

Another election.  No one elected DC - no votes for any candidate on slate presented by Council, but guy elected DC twice is unanimously elected ADC on motion from floor  District returns to function under leadership of ADC - leads Council in fund-raising.

SE retired. 

New SE eliminates districts in favor of geographic "service teams" run by "professionals." Already poor roundtable attendance and fund-raising both crash, council-wide.  Council listed for consolidation out of existence less than three years after doubling in size.

Defy the First Law of Holes to your peril.

Ignorance can be cured.  Stupidity, not so much.

 

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Since Mr. Mosby's intro included mentioning 33 years of volunteer service, I'm guessing he has experienced or heard of the issues in the majority of these posts.

Some of these I lay at the feet of the respective Executive Boards to actually do something to correct them.  Most are name only, haven't been associated with a unit for sometimes years and serve as lemmings to the professionals.

For one of our resident professionals,  Carebear....do professionals get any training in customer service or how to work with a volunteer workforce?

Seems like they tell you what you want to hear and then forget it. 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, PACAN said:

 

For one of our resident professionals,  Carebear....do professionals get any training in customer service or how to work with a volunteer workforce?

Seems like they tell you what you want to hear and then forget it. 

 

 

 

somewhat. Our basic training hits hard on Salesmanship and recruitment, not so much on how to work with Volunteers. Customer Service, not really.  For example, they will tell you how to recruit a District Chair, but not how to train and enable them to do their job. I know a lot SE's like to wait until at least 6 months to send new Professionals to training to see if it's even worth sending them (50% of new hires don't make it to 6 months). I went when I was already in 7 months and I was the shortest tenured professional at mine. 

The next level training, District Operations 2, hits a lot more on how to work better with Volunteers. However, most Pros don't last long enough to take DO2 though. 

As much as I like the ScoutingU staff, you can tell they haven't been in council in a long time, and I think all of them came from big metros too. 

Edited by carebear3895

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So, would they stay longer if the second training was moved forward?  Or is it more the realization soon afterward that they will have long hours and lots of frustration and little actual scouting?  When I considered, briefly becoming a professional in the old Riverside council they had me register at large and then spend a few weeks accompanying a working exec as my time allowed.  I very quickly understood that the Pro, especially new ones, had little direct interaction with the youth, but a lot of frustration with obdurate adults and difficult goals, all while spending long hours at meetings over weekends and at night.  Then I knew that was not what I wanted.  

 

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Posted (edited)

I think I mentioned this before, but the #1 reason Professionals leave is due to a bad manager. 

It's just a culture thing. I don't think any amount of training would help a DE "survive" or not. I was lucky to know what I was getting myself into and landed in a great council. 

I think that's the big reason the National board went outside the Profession and hired a career HR guy in Mosby. The Professional cadre is in desperate need of a culture shakeup. 

Edited by carebear3895
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