Commissioner Training Notes - A Commissioner's Priorities

Know Your Units—Our No. 1 Priority
  • It's important to understand the chartered organization(s) you work with. You should know the COR and chartered organization head,and help understand Scouting's chartered organization concept.
  • Get to know the direct contact leaders and the unit committee members. Be a friend and be willing to serve them. Units won't open up to you until they understand how much you care.
  • You need to understand the unit's environment. What are its history, education and income level, neighborhood, etc.? How do these affect its program?
  • Don't be one-sided. Not only do you represent the district to the unit, you must also represent the unit back to the district!
Prioritize Unit Needs
  • ". . .[C]ommissioners must concentrate their Scouting time helping with specific unit needs and helping each unit become more effective with its program and operation." (Commissioner Fieldbook For Unit Service, 2010 printing, p24)
  • "Good commissioners . . . establish priority units. Priority units receive their most careful attention." (ibid)
  • "Keep a running list of needs, problems, and desirable improvements for each of your units. Highlight the most urgent needs and problems. Most people's time is limited, so concentrate your energies on the unit needs you have highlighted." (ibid)
Beware the Hazard of Diversion
  • "Because of the many programs and activities of Scouting, unit commissioners might find themselves promoting projects, carrying messages, acting as judges, running FOS campaigns, etc. While all these activities are unquestionably important, they are not the primary responsibilities of unit commissioners." (ibid)
  • Don't be afraid to say 'no' to scouting requests that will take you away from Commissioner Service.
Typical Priority Unit Needs
  • These are like the "Hurry Cases" in first aid. Units suffering from these problems need help urgently!
    1. "Unit Not Meeting. ("Stopped breathing") A unit that has stopped meeting is in serious trouble. You must move quickly to salvage the remaining leadership and membership" (ibid p29)
    2. "Unit with No Leader. ("No heartbeat") If the unit leader has quit or leaves for any reason, see that the leader is replaced quickly." (ibid p29)
    3. "Unit with No Committee. ("Choking") A unit leader with little or no adult help might not survive very long or the unit program weakens and youth get cheated out of the great opportunities of Scouting. If the committee is not working, get in touch with the chartered organization representative and explain the importance of having" (ibid p30)"
    4. "Unit with No New Members. ("Severe bleeding") Units should register new members yearround. If no new members are added and there are plenty of youth in the area, find out why the unit is not growing." (ibid p30)
    5. "Unit Conflict with the Chartered Organization. ("Poisoning by mouth") Misunderstandings sometimes occur, and they can threaten the life of a unit if left unresolved. You may need to play a neutral role; be a mediator. Help unit leaders realize that the unit belongs to the chartered organization. Help leaders of the chartered organization realize they have some responsibility for the success of the unit. Work toward bringing unit and chartered organization leaders together to talk and build some consensus about the unit. Help them get better acquainted and recognize their mutual objectives. (ibid p30)"
    6. "New Unit Leader Lacks Orientation or Training. ("Blue baby") Give the new leader preliminary information about the unit. Learn as much as you can about the new leader. Provide some basic printed materials to get him or her started. Review basic program literature.
      Have all new leaders exchange their names and contact information. Explain what other people in the unit do: The chartered organization representative represents the chartered organization, the unit committee supports the unit program and helps with administration, and assistant leaders help the leader with unit operation." (ibid p30)
    7. "Unit with Weak Leadership. ("Comatose") In almost every case, a problem unit stems from weak leadership that must be either strengthened or replaced. Remember that the unit belongs to the chartered organization, and you must not remove leaders. You do have the responsibility, though, to see that the Scouts receive a good program. Therefore, it's your duty to impress upon the chartered organization representa­tive and unit committee the importance of providing strong leadership for their Scouting unit. (ibid p30)
Steps in Solving A Problem
  • Identify the problem. — What's wrong?
  • Decide if it is a problem. — Is it really a problem, or did you catch things at a bad time?
  • Discuss the problem with the ADC. — Figure out what can be done for the unit/unit leader.
  • Is assistance needed from the district committee? — If the problem is beyond your ability to solve, what resources to you need to pull in?
  • Decide whether you will handle it alone or with the ADC. — If you need help, what role should the ADC have in bringing in other resources?
  • Decide who is to handle the problem. — If you need to pull in an expert, will he or she 'take over'? What role will the unit leaders play?
  • Plan your actions. — Make SMART goals and make sure to measure them.
  • Plan your alternatives. — Your first attempt might not work. What else are you going to have in reserve?
  • Put the plan into action. — Now that you've talked things through and made a plan, it's time to act!
  • Evaluate. — If you don't know what you were trying to do, you won't know if you suceeded. Keep records, you might find that you need these ideas again for another unit.
The Journey To Excellence Performance Award
This program replaces the Centennial Quality Unit Award, and applies to Units, Districts, and larger scouting organizations. The key points of the program are:
  • Each unit makes an annual committment, ideally at the end of the preceeding year but no later than February of the current year. This commitment is signed by the Unit Commissioner as a representative of the council.
  • In Q4 of the year, the unit determines if they have met their commitment and has the Unit Commissioner sign off on the form if they have. One copy is turned in to the district, another is turned in to the council office, and the final copy is kept by the unit.
  • There are unit level and personal recognition devices (streamers, plaques, and patches) which should be presented by the Unit Commissioner.
A Unit Commissioner is responsible to:
  • Understand the criteria, forms, and procedures for your assigned units
  • Brief the COR, committee, and leaders of the units you serve
  • Work with each unit you serve to qualify for the award. This should take place throughout the year.
  • Guide each unit through the annual review and ensure that they complete a commitment for next year.
  • Provide the appropriate recognition for each unit's achievement. Provide encouragement throughout the year as well.
  • Work closely with your ADC, District Commissioner, and/or District Executive to help the district strengthen the units you're assigned to.

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