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Finding time for the important things...

My postbag this week has been dominated by the effects of changes; whether it’s the Scout Fellowship, Bear at the QSR or the need to force the change of a particular role undertaken by an individual.  Change is not always easy, but more often than not worth it in the medium to long term. 

But on Wednesday evening I was lucky enough to accompany Julie to a Scout function for a change, to a local reception where she received her 10 year service certificate.  Saying thank you in a meaningful way is vital and Wednesday evening was a good way to achieve that.  This weekend I’ve also been an anxious parent again as Alastair and Francesca along with their Network took a group of Explorer Scous to France for a weekend’s incident hike challenge.  All back safely and exhausted having had a great weekend.

Thursday I was off to Wales for the evening with a quick stop for lunch with the CC of Avon to keep in touch with whats happening and discuss local development initiatives of which there are lots in Avon .  Time also to have an early dinner with my niece who has quickly settled into university life in Cardiff although I’m not sure I needed to know about the dissection practical she had just undertaken prior to dinner!

But back to Scouting, I was in Wales with a couple of colleagues from the RDS and Media Team to meet with a local search group for an Area Commissioner (CC/RC(S) equivalent) which is proving difficult.  A priority is to ensure that we have effective line managers at each level so we were meeting to share ideas and good practice, identify new initiatives aimed at recruiting experienced managers rather then youth workers and to review the role description etc.  A very successful evening.

We also had an interesting discussion about the role title of ‘Commissioner’ or ‘Manager’ – would welcome your thoughts on the pros and cons of each?

A fairly straight forward drive back to Gilwell early on Friday morning for some catching up with colleagues on projects, signing various things and the ever demanding inbox!  Dinner with one of my team to review where they are with their objectives, to identify any support they require and of course, to have a good laugh.

Saturday saw a meeting of the Operations Sub-Committee (Ops).  A sub-committee of the Board of Trustees, Ops is essentially the s/c responsible for all things programme wise and makes recommendations to the Board as well as overseeing implementation of any changes.  Its membership comprises my team,  4 Trustees and 4 co-opted members who bring a different perspective to our work.

Saturday saw a packed agenda with a presentation from our UK Adviser for Diversity and discussion about our progress and work in that area and recommendations following the review of the Home Contact system.  Main discussions however were around a number of projects proposed for next year and which require prioritisation and budget approval.  All of the projects however are based on feedback received and support needed and things we could be doing better.  Lots of food for thought.

I leave a little early so as to get back to Guernsey for the evening before returning to Gilwell on Sunday evening for dinner with a colleague and the start of another week and induction day for 68 new DC’s! 

Don’t forget to find time for those important things in your life too.




By Mark Turner
on 27/10/2009 17:02

And as one of those new DCs it was a very interesting and useful day. We even had an open discussion with Wayne in the bar on Sunday evening.

By Moz
on 27/10/2009 23:06

Manager for me over Commissioner. Lets move with the times.

By Rich
on 28/10/2009 10:24

Got to stick with Commissioner, keep some of the Traditions.
And anyway UK Chief Manager, sounds wrong.

By Sid
on 28/10/2009 11:17

I am all for change, but not for changes sake.

The title of Commissioner is a tradition within the movement and I see no reason to change it to manager.

However I feel the change from Fellowship to the hopefully more dynamic and relevant SAS is a great idea!

Keep up the good work Wayne.

By Bob
on 28/10/2009 12:18

Commissioner over Manager

Having been a GSL at 21 (and not a lot older now)I spent a lot of time reinforcing to much more experienced Scouters that, whilst I am their 'Line Manager', this is not because I am more skilled or qualified than them, simply because I choose to support scouting in a different way.

I personally much prefer the 'Responsible Commissioner' explanation used in various places as it enforces that the person is responsible, but stays away from the manager, and therefore implied subordinate, relationship.

By S
on 28/10/2009 14:31

I think there are arguments for and against both titles.

One of Scouting's priorities, which Wayne has identified, is to ensure that we have effective line management across the organisation. This line management is carried out by volunteers in Commissioner roles (in the case of groups; Group Scout Leaders and in the case of training and Scout Active Support; Managers). The challenge is ensuring that the volunteers in these roles are providing effective line management to all the volunteers who they support. One way of encouraging this is to use the title manager. That way it is clear what that person's role is, and emphasises that it is their responsibility to support and manage other volunteers.

On the other hand Commissioner does give us the distinction between employees and volunteers, reinforcing the fact that people who carry out these roles are volunteers.

Ultimately the important thing is that we have the right people in these roles who can provide effective support and management to volunteers, and that these roles are not seen in terms of a 'promotion'. A successful Scout Leader who has been involved for 10 years isn't necessarily the right person to be a Group Scout Leader.

By Jan
on 28/10/2009 16:07

When you are trying to explain to someone who is new to scouting what a commissioner does they often ask why do we not call it Manager.

So for me I would go for Manager

on 28/10/2009 19:35

I think commissioner; manager is wrong, most commissioner roles are about supporting other volunteers and I think using commissioner makes that destination between what we do and industry management roles.

By Dean J
on 28/10/2009 21:07

Commissioner wins hands down - the most important thing is finding the right people for the right roles and for those in 'management' roles to be given the tools to fulfill these roles.

Their is a danger of too much use of management terms which I know from first hand experience is putting some people off or even giving the impression that some adults are paid at a local level.

Stick with Commissioner!

By Steve
on 28/10/2009 22:09

Firstly Wayne, thanks for these blogs they are great. They also demonstrate just how much work our senior volunteers put into making this great organisation work so well!

On the manager/commissioner front - the way I look at it is that a Commissioner is a manager and a leader. So, a Media Manager or Leader Training Manager manage but an ACC (section) leads the other leaders in that section and manages the section too. On these grounds there may be scope to establish which roles manage and which are commission.

By Dave Moorcroft
on 28/10/2009 23:56

I think Commissioner should stay for the DC, CC, RC and UK Commissioner roles!

Manager just doesnt work - plus their are other roles with manager in the title e.g. MDM so changing it could start to get confusing!

By Jim
on 06/11/2009 21:34

As a young Commissioner I believe that Commissioner title is something that people outside of Scouting understand and it does draw a distinction from paid manager! I think the role of a Commissioner is not solely a leader or manager, you are drawing on leadership skills, management skills and many other skills to inspire and enthuse people. However does Group Scout Leader (GSL) need to change - Group Scout Manager?!! ;)

By Andy Brodie
on 16/11/2009 00:38

The main problem with "Manager" as part of a title, is that a large number of our leaders don't like to feel they're being managed. Of course the Commissioner role has always included an management element in the role, added to a large chunk of support. Traditionally, the only exception to this rule has been GSL's. Their role, in effect has been that of a "Group Commissioner", to match the other 'line manager' structures at District and County.

I suspect our existing leader base would prefer the traditional Commissioner titles to continue, however, external bodies and new leaders will probably find this old fashioned title confusing. Lets face it, the title was taken from long abandoned colonial appointments out in Africa, at the start of the 20th Century.

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