I was at a meeting where the members did not want to make a decision on an issue. Any decision would just be bad business. When I told them that if they used Postpone Indefinitely, they would not be making a decision, everybody thought that that was the worst name for a motion that does not take a position. Hate to say it, but I have to agree.
Names do have an influence on how people think of an action. This is especially true when you are dealing across cultures as what has one meaning in one culture may have a totally different meaning in another. You can’t satisfy everybody, but there needs to be an attempt to satisfy most.
You may think that Farmers and Parliamentarians are far apart. But think again. Farmers have to be very organized, have to do tasks in relatively specific order, and have to follow the rules. Parliamentarians preach the same thing.
The Future Farmers Association has a large number of members who are into Parliamentary Procedure. They have an annual competition with around 200 participants. Members only get to participate one time at the national level. So 200 potential future parliamentarians get exposed each year to what it is to be in the field. But those 200 are not all; they are only the ones who made it into the national competition.
What do you do if your client does not have a manual of procedures for the Board of Directors? The easy answer is that you start one.
Actually, it is not the responsibility of the parliamentarian to write such a document. However, having one makes the job of the parliamentarian easier as it gives one document to refer to when there is an issue. But how do you start to do this.
First, mention to the Board that they need such a document and give them ample chances to start to do the work. If they do not do anything, ask if you can start to work on the idea. Usually, they will be glad to let you do that.
Having gotten permission (or if you are desperate, even if you don’t have permission), get a basic outline in your mind. The basic outline I used was:
2.b. Immediate Past President (etc.)
3. Board Meetings
With this outline, I went through first the Articles of Association (the Charter) and then the Bylaws. When a clause fit in one of the categories, I copied that clause into the document and put an exact reference to it at the end of the entry. By doing this, I established a document where an officer could easily find what the official duties and responsibilities where for each office.
Once finished, I sent a copy to the President asking his authorization to send it to the other members of the Board.
Procedures for Meetings and Organizations, 3rd Edition by Kerr and King is an excellent source of ideas no matter what Parliamentary Authority your organization has. The approach is different from the standard U.S. based authorities. It does not contradict them; it supplements them. I hope to go over some of the good ideas I am finding in the book.
The Parliamentarian Corner podcasts are back and have new content. The old content is there to download but new podcasts are being uploaded at the rate of one a week. In iTunes or at Feedburner.com, look for Parliamentarian Corner and follow the instructions to subscribe. If you want to see them on the web, go to www.parliamentariancorner.com/Podcasts and enjoy yourself.
Be warned that only fifty are going to be available so once I get to 51, the earlier podcasts will not be available for download. I am working on a way to make them available but it will probably cost to get a CD or DVD to you.
I have been asked what happened to my old podcasts. Well, now I have a good answer. Most are going to be found at www.parliamentariancorner.com/Podcasts — but give me a little time to get them all up. You need the capital P for Podcasts.
Click on the one(s) you want to listen to. If you want to save it and are using a PC, right click as you listen and then use the save audio. I have no idea how that works on a Mac as I don’t have one.
Will I be adding more? I don’t know for sure at this point in time; but I would like to. Let’s hope that things go right.
If there are comments posted outside of meetings, can you, the parliamentarian, respond?
That is a hard question to answer. If the comments are not directly aimed at you, I advise against saying anything. You are the impartial parliamentarian and need to keep that distance from problems. Members yelling at people are a problem as they are raising tensions that can carry over to meetings. You remaining calm can be very important.
What if they directly attack you as a parliamentarian? First, take a good hard, calm look and see if there is some truth in the issues that have been raised. Don’t be afraid to say that they have a good point. You are only a human being and maybe you made a mistake. Be honest and admit it. You will gain respect by being honest.
If the charge has no basis, DO NOT RESPOND DIRECTLY! You would only be playing into their game — a game they control. This is the time for you to get legal advise. Your professionalism is being challenged. You are too closely involved to properly respond. You need help. Talking to other parliamentarians can help; but get legal aid before you take any real action.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is totally ignore the taunt. If the charge is so absurd that nobody would believe it, ignore it. Others may take up your case and point out the absurdities. Silence can be golden.
I find it very interesting when a new board is installed. Just recently, one client changed to a new board. The president has been a board member for a couple of years and the secretary had not been on the board. Both realize that they need training for their positions.
The secretary was easy. I loaned him my copy of Every Meeting Needs a Great Secretary and my copy of Eli Mina’s book for secretaries. Those who works cover everything that a secretary needs to know to do a good job.
Working with the president is going to take a lot more than anything that can be found in books. She needs help in handling the culture of the meetings she chairs. In the board meetings, the various cultures that are present have to be handled carefully. The post board meeting discussion with her is going to be the important educational time and will often involve me asking her the right questions so she can see where her successes were and what she needs to do to make good adjustments. This is where I have to be an artist.
Time will tell how successful I am.
Yes, I am now a Certified Professional Parliamentarian (CPP). My number is 230. That is 230 CPPs since 1960. That is not many in the over 50 years that AIP has existed.
Does that mean that I am smarter than other people? No. It only means that I have a higher qualification until I actually do something with it. Teaching the East Coast Practicum in June is one way that I will do more. Pushing myself to be more is another doing something with it. So where will I be next year? Who knows!
What do I mean by Moodle? Moodle is a control program for educational content. It allows exercises to be save and used in lessons and for a grade book to be established. The way I have set up the grade book to be used, the best grade you have on an exercise is saved. You can see your running average and your best score for each exercise. But Moodle is a special address. To use it, you first need to send an email to email@example.com and get an account. Then you need to go to parliamentariancorner.com\moodle (notice that there is no www.). You sign in with the case sensitive information I have sent you and follow the Instructions to sign up for a course. Good luck.