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CynicalScouter

Succession Planning and the "Talk/Threat"

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  This came up in another thread, but I wanted to pull this out for this reason.

14 minutes ago, FaithfulScouter said:

Sadly the Charter Org has known about the deterioration in program for more than a year, however no one would step up to take the Scoutmaster position.

I've seen units with 12 scouts and 120. I've seen units with 1 ASM/Den Leader and 12. The one thing I have consistently seen is a complete and total lack of succession planning for Scoutmaster/Cubmaster (I know there's difference, but bear with me).

I know it isn't about the awards/knots, but I wanted to point out the following is part of the Unit Leader Award of Merit.

Quote

Yes, the unit has a replacement recruited and committed to take over the nominee’s position as unit leader if necessary.

Replacement’s name ________________________________________________Unit committee chair initial  ____________

Think about about that: It is an "Award of Merit" item to have a succession plan for the Scoutmaster/Cubmaster.

The result has been time and time again that someone is forced/shoved into a position not because they want it but because they are, in effect, threatened: you are our last hope, if not you then no one (and in the case of the 12 scout troop the person was told "if not you, we fold.")

And sadly, in 11 years (this was a post from 2009) nothing has changed.

On 3/5/2009 at 8:57 PM, rkfrance said:

Before I took on the role of a commissioner, I had been involved with several units. None of the units I served had any real plan for leader succession. It was always milk the poor sucker dry who was in the position at the time until he/she either moved on, got burned-out, or just disappeared without notice. Then it was the mad scramble to find the next sucker, er... volunteer! Many times the scramble turned into plodding for months, until the next roundup or right before recharter. Then, many times, someone was cornered for a signature with little or no expectation of that person stepping up to take on the responsibility of the position.

Cornered.

Threatened.

Do it or we are screwed.

Not knowing what they are getting into.

Etc.

Of course you don't want a succession plan that looks TOO much like you are plotting to toss the existing unit leader, either.

Has anyone figured out a better way to square this circle?

Edited by CynicalScouter
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We had a succession plan when I was awarded the Unit leader of Merit Award but that was 4 years ago and my replacements son quit scouts and all of my ASMs are CubMasters. My CC has given me a hard time here and there over the last 6 years regarding me getting the scouts to do the right thing at the right time (I am not their den leader) so it looks like we may swap positions and have him learn the hard way how hard it is to be SM at times.

If you were going to sell someone the reason to become SM what would your pitch be? 

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In my experience the biggest obstacles to succession planning are:

  1. Scoutmasters/Cubmasters who do too much - they don't delegate which makes the job appear huge.  Someone who isn't looking for a 20 hour a week job isn't going to sign-up when the current SM/CM is doing that much.  Delegate, delegate, delegate.  Make sure you don't need a Scoutmaster to keep functioning before you go find a new one.
  2. Troops/Packs without sufficient adult support - similar reason.  When the SM/CM realizes that other adults are not their to support them, they don't want to take the job on.
  3. Lack of suitable candidates - you don't promote a new person to be President of the company.  Similarly don't attempt to take a parent and make them Scoutmaster.  If you don't have ASMs/ACMs doing significant work already, then succession planning is not going to occur.  To get an ASM doing significant work, you first have to have ASMs doing small projects.  In short, you need a farm team.

To me this is a core structure problem - fix the structure and succession planning is easier to address.

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26 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

In my experience the biggest obstacles to succession planning are:

  1. Scoutmasters/Cubmasters who do too much - they don't delegate which makes the job appear huge.  Someone who isn't looking for a 20 hour a week job isn't going to sign-up when the current SM/CM is doing that much.  Delegate, delegate, delegate.  Make sure you don't need a Scoutmaster to keep functioning before you go find a new one.
  2. Troops/Packs without sufficient adult support - similar reason.  When the SM/CM realizes that other adults are not their to support them, they don't want to take the job on.
  3. Lack of suitable candidates - you don't promote a new person to be President of the company.  Similarly don't attempt to take a parent and make them Scoutmaster.  If you don't have ASMs/ACMs doing significant work already, then succession planning is not going to occur.  To get an ASM doing significant work, you first have to have ASMs doing small projects.  In short, you need a farm team.

To me this is a core structure problem - fix the structure and succession planning is easier to address.

This is the way. It's really not rocket science, but it takes a Scoutmaster or Committee Chair to take ownership of it and develop the succession plan, and the leaders in it. 

I'll add one more thing: It's ok to tag a "Transition/emergency Scoutmaster" and then the heir apparent. For example:

Current Scoutmaster gets a great new job and relocates. Troop has the most senior and experienced ASM take over as Scoutmaster for a year (their son is 17, and they don't want to be Scoutmaster long term), while the recently joined parent who is a new ASM gets a year to observe the experienced ASM in action, get their feet wet, and get their training done. After the transition year, the experienced ASM ages out with their son, the new ASM becomes Scoutmaster, and a new "transition/emergency Scoutmaster" is recruited. 

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Yes, delegation is key. So is ongoing mentoring/training of ASMs so that they are not trying to figure ot all out on their own. In another thread I wrote about having ASMs sit in on SM conferences to learn how to do them well. Along with this mentoring, the SM should view his ASMs as his patrol. He should be focused on building up the ASMs much like the PL builds up his patrol mates. I would also encourage the SM to invite a PL (at appropriate times) to sit in and listen to how the SM runs his SM/ASM meetings. This modeling of how to run a productive meeting will help the PL and also demonstrate some engagement strategies. Of course, a follow up discussion with the PL about what he observed and learned.

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2 hours ago, Sentinel947 said:

This is the way.

That quote just made my day!

The-Best-Mandalorian-Quotes-This-is-the-

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Succession planning is key. Getting the right adult in charge is vital. I have seen what happens when the wrong adult takes over. He nearly destroyed a troop.

Having an Interim or Emergency SM is fine, but EVERYONE needs to be working on finding a successor.

A few comments. 

1) Unit key three (SM, CC, and COR) need to meet to come up with a list of potential names.

2) At least 2 of the three, but all three if possible, should meet with the prospective successor, and make the pitch. This needs to be done privately so if the person declines and you need to go to the next person on the list, no one feels slighted. TRUST ME ON THIS! (emphasis). One new SM found out he was not the old SM and CC's first pick, and it created a problems for all involved, including the one who rejected the position.

3) Delegation and having a good, supportive ASM team is vital. SM's can't do everything, they need to delegate to reliable people. And you got to know your folks strengths and weaknesses. We have one ASM who cannot camp on weekends due to his job. But Saturday trips, summer camp, etc he is "da bomb."

4) Me personally, I would avoid just from the Cub Scout ranks adults as SM. They need to "unlearn what you have learned" as Master Yoda would say. They need time to make the adjustment to Scouts BSA, and some mentoring in troop culture.

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2 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Succession planning is key. Getting the right adult in charge is vital. I have seen what happens when the wrong adult takes over. He nearly destroyed a troop.

Having an Interim or Emergency SM is fine, but EVERYONE needs to be working on finding a successor.

A few comments. 

1) Unit key three (SM, CC, and COR) need to meet to come up with a list of potential names.

2) At least 2 of the three, but all three if possible, should meet with the prospective successor, and make the pitch. This needs to be done privately so if the person declines and you need to go to the next person on the list, no one feels slighted. TRUST ME ON THIS! (emphasis). One new SM found out he was not the old SM and CC's first pick, and it created a problems for all involved, including the one who rejected the position.

3) Delegation and having a good, supportive ASM team is vital. SM's can't do everything, they need to delegate to reliable people. And you got to know your folks strengths and weaknesses. We have one ASM who cannot camp on weekends due to his job. But Saturday trips, summer camp, etc he is "da bomb."

4) Me personally, I would avoid just from the Cub Scout ranks adults as SM. They need to "unlearn what you have learned" as Master Yoda would say. They need time to make the adjustment to Scouts BSA, and some mentoring in troop culture.

I agree!  I found a similar strategy has worked for us too.  Well written.  A few comments:

On delegation - we've found that a good strategy is in someone's first year as a volunteer recruit them to do specifics tasks or own a small role in the troop.  Year two, give them larger role to take on - ASM of new scouts or ASM of troop guides - something like that.  Then 1st assistant ASM.  Then, a year or two later SM.  The same is true for Committee positions.  Don't recruit the new parent to be Pack Committee Chair or Troop Advancement Chair.

I've also learned never try to recruit someone who isn't already a leader in the troop or pack to be SM or CM.  That is a recipe for disaster.

We've found that it helps to make den leaders, Cubmasters, etc. ASMs as soon as their child bridges.  Why?  Since you should never give the reins of the troop to a new leader, leaders need time to learn your troop's culture.  The best way for them to learn the culture is to be a part of the leadership team.  They'll see how the team works, what the troop's goals are, how they interact.  Along the way they'll bring fresh ideas and perspective.  Of course you are not going to put a Cub Scout leader in the position of Scoutmaster or ASM of Troop Guides or New Scouts - they just don't have the experience yet.  But find them a role, get them engaged, and get them learning your troop's culture.  Also, often leaders are at their most recruitable when their son or daughter first joins.  This is a great time to get them a small role to help out on.

EDIT: One more point...

2 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

1) Unit key three (SM, CC, and COR) need to meet to come up with a list of potential names.

For the SM selection - I would second that the Key 3 should drive the selection of Scoutmaster.  However, for other new leaders it should be everyone's responsibility to recruit new leaders.

 

Edited by ParkMan
expanded the thought
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16 hours ago, ParkMan said:

Scoutmasters/Cubmasters who do too much - they don't delegate which makes the job appear huge.

Hmmm...not quite.  What I have seen is SM's doing jobs outside their lane (including me!!) because of lack of support from the Committee.  The huge job of putting on a good program for the Troop is not the Scoutmaster's job.  It is the job of the Troop Committee and the Scoutmaster corps, in toto.  Too often I run up against the mentality that I, as the Scoutmaster, am THE leader of the Troop.  People want to look to one person on whom to "stop the buck."  It is not the Scoutmaster.  It is the triumvirate, the Key 3.  As a Scoutmaster, I identify critical needs and timelines to the Committee Chair, in front of everyone, at the Troop Committee meeting.  I ask the Committee Chair to delegate responsibilities which do not belong to the SM corps, and to let me know on whom it is we can rely to do the task.  Most often, the CC does not get someone to do it, and I become the victim of my own success (I do it because time is running out.)

I will delegate only Scoutmaster roles to Assistant Scoutmasters...being the leader in charge on a camping trip or outing, taking a Scoutmaster conference, giving a Scoutmaster minute, etc., etc., etc.

Here are some things I do not want to do, but often have to because the Committee fails...

1) I don't want to take money/payments from Scouts or parents. Give it to your Patrol Leader (money for food for a camping trip) or the Troop Scribe or Treasurer (dues), or, all else failing, the Committee Chair (the Treasurer works for the CC, not me.)

2.  I do not want to take health forms.  Give it to the MFG (medical forms guru), or CC.  I get forms, as a package, from the MFG for activities.  Exception, Scout shows up with a new form on an outing...

3.  I do not want to buy gear for the Troop.  SM works with PLC to identify needs...QM and PLC come up with alternatives, and price.  I lobby the Committee for money, if not already budgeted.  If no money available, I ask the PLC if they want to do a fundraiser, or do without.  Once we get the money, QM is mentored by adult Equipment Coordinator to purchase.

4.  I do not want to arrange transportation.  

5.  I do not want to create Troop policies for support.  (setting Troop dues, procedures for handling money, procedures for vetting adults for participation, etc.)

6.  I do not want to run recruiting efforts or "inprocess" new Scouts and families administratively into the Troop.

etc, etc, etc

 

16 hours ago, Sentinel947 said:

It's really not rocket science, but it takes a Scoutmaster or Committee Chair to take ownership of it and develop the succession plan, and the leaders in it.

Agreed, but this is a team effort...what I do not see in other posts here is setting and sticking to a term limit.  One reason folks are reluctant to SM is that it seems like an open-ended job because of a lack of succession planning.  Give the recruit a light at the end of the tunnel.  Will you be the Scoutmaster for one year, or two years, or three years?  Set a "retirement" date, and stick to it!!!  My retirement date is the end of summer camp, 2021.  (We find that is a good transition point...out with a bang)  Committee still has not identified replacement.  But they know I will step down on that day.  If you, as SM, contribute to kicking the can down the road, you create your own hell ;)  I have six ASM's, and have "privately" rank ordered them for the succession "ask"  but it is the CC's job to ask (with COR's approval).

And who, must take the the SM role if no one is identified or takes the position?  The Committee Chair!

"The troop committee supports the Scoutmaster in delivering a quality troop program. Members ensure quality adult leadership is recruited and trained. If the Scoutmaster is absent, the committee assigns a qualified assistant Scoutmaster. If the Scoutmaster is unable to serve, the committee recruits and selects a replacement."

"It is perhaps the troop committee’s most important responsibility to recruit adult leadership for the troop. The troop’s success rests on the quality of that leadership."

https://www.scouting.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/511-03918TroopCommGde-d.pdf

13 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Me personally, I would avoid just from the Cub Scout ranks adults as SM.

Agreed.  When we first arrived, our Troop was just a Pack on steroids.  Adults doing everything.  It "ran" well, but it wasn't Scouting.  Adult leaders were brought right over from Cubs without being "indoctrinated" into the program differences.  Cultural change has taken the better part of five years, and it has been a rough road.

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32 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

Hmmm...not quite.  What I have seen is SM's doing jobs outside their lane (including me!!) because of lack of support from the Committee. 

Agreed. My experience is that units that don't plan for succession don't have the resources for such a plan. The reason many feel threatened or forced is because there was no choices when the adult left without the committee filling the space. And many times that space is the CC. 

If we really wanted to get serious about this, we would ask assistance from district and council to provide more consistent training and direct contact assistance. But, on their own, unit leaders struggle to keep their heads above water with the youth program. Succession Planning is a luxury they don't feel they have.

By the way, there is a focus here on SM and CM, but in my experience, the Webelo's leader position is the most challenging to find follow-on leadership. Which contributes the the huge membership loss at the cub level.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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In my experience, the many pleas for volunteers in the Troop went unanswered.  The long term Unit Commissioner had been absent, and didn't see any possible areas of concern because the Scoutmaster was 'one of my guys'.  In reality, the Unit was a mess.  Purportedly 'boy run' but the limited number of adults did everything.  The patrols and PLC were in name only.  And training?  What training?  Why bother when we've been doing it like this 'for years'?  

Who has the luxury of succession planning when you can barely keep a Unit above water?  So of course you give adults guilt and ultimatums to keep the Unit chartered.  And that's how you wind up with inappropriate candidates for adult leaders because no one else would step up...

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2 hours ago, FaithfulScouter said:

In my experience, the many pleas for volunteers in the Troop went unanswered.  The long term Unit Commissioner had been absent, and didn't see any possible areas of concern because the Scoutmaster was 'one of my guys'.  In reality, the Unit was a mess.  Purportedly 'boy run' but the limited number of adults did everything.  The patrols and PLC were in name only.  And training?  What training?  Why bother when we've been doing it like this 'for years'?  

Who has the luxury of succession planning when you can barely keep a Unit above water?  So of course you give adults guilt and ultimatums to keep the Unit chartered.  And that's how you wind up with inappropriate candidates for adult leaders because no one else would step up...

Rarely people step up. Pleas for volunteers being ignored is common in most organizations and systems. Recruiting adults (and scouts) effectively requires personal invitations. All recruitment is Cheap, Easy, Effective... choose only 2.

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1 hour ago, DuctTape said:

Rarely people step up. Pleas for volunteers being ignored is common in most organizations and systems. Recruiting adults (and scouts) effectively requires personal invitations. All recruitment is Cheap, Easy, Effective... choose only 2.

While that may be true, I've noticed that the best volunteers are self motivated. For the position of SM I think this is more critical than other positions. SM's that don't really want to be there shouldn't. People, when asked and respond with no, should be left alone. Now, if someone says they're not sure, that starts a conversation.

The next issue is what environment is needed for someone to see themselves as a future SM before anyone asks? I think that's the harder problem to solve.

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5 minutes ago, MattR said:

... The next issue is what environment is needed for someone to see themselves as a future SM before anyone asks? I think that's the harder problem to solve.

I think this is the advantage of working the patrol method in the face of contemporary youth protection requirements. If a troop with three independent patrols needs two registered 21+ year-old adults to chaperon each them when they are doing separate activities. It's unrealistic to have the SM and the same ASM at every patrol activity and meeting and troop activity and meeting plus round table and training -- even if those two adults are able to keep to themselves and maybe attend rountable online while the Flaming Arrows are refurbishing their Klondike derby sled.  If you get parents to "buy in" to the troop as a federation of patrols, than a couple of those parents need to get with the program so that their child's patrol can be all it can be.

It happens rarely in my troop, but there's nothing better than being able to drop in on a handful of scouts and responsible, trained, parents, do my thing, and hear that they can handle the rest of the evening. A half dozen trained adults yields a couple of really good ASMs (even if their official position for the time being is MC). Encourage a that many to onboard every year, and you have a handful of ASMs in your depth chart . Some stick around even if their child leaves the troop! Stepping up to SM for those adults is no longer a big step.

This is not so true, I found, for crew advisors. Very few adults were willing to wear the co-advisor patch. From our older scouts, there's been some demand for us to restart the crew. I'm making it clear to the adults that our venturers will benefit from a younger advisor (i.e., not me), so any plans for a restart might involve a search for someone willing to cut away time from their career to assist me. Basically, I need a fellowship of young adults willing to be available for my venturers while I make sure they are fully caffeinated.

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My first experience: my son joined at Webelos First Year. The den leader fell ill. The Cubmaster walk up, saw I had sat in on every meeting and simply asked if I was interested and explained the situation. Of course I'll help.

I think drafting (volun-told) someone into a lesser position is fine. Den Leader. Committee (which I got volun-told I was joining when we crossed over to Troop; I am NOT ASM material and I know it), etc. But SM/CM? No way, that person has got to WANT to be there.

That's what struck me so often is that the SM/CM is just dumped/shoved/threatened.

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