Being a Guild Officer

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BEING AN OFFICER

FACILITATING A GUILD OFFICER MEETING

Guild officer meetings are more like planning sessions that reflect the current and potential needs of the guild rather than a regular guild meeting that might include education, learning, and community building. Guild officer meetings therefore have more direct input from the gathered officers, and must often cover much more information in the same amount of time as a regular guild meeting.

 

HOW OFTEN SHOULD THE OFFICERS OF A GUILD MEET?

Some guild officers meet as frequently as before every regular guild meeting or another once-monthly date; some meet exclusively online using video chat software, Facebook private groups or email chains; and some meet only once a year in a marathon planning session. ost use a mix of in person meetings and online communication.

When deciding how often the officers of your guild should meet, take into consideration the time commitment it requires of your members. It may be more difficult to find members willing to take leadership roles if the time commitment of the guild board is seen as arduous or excessive by potential board members. Many guild officers meet quarterly for an hour to 90 minutes before or after their weekend meeting date OR on a weekend if their meetings fall on a weeknight. This quarterly meeting time can be supplemented with committee meetings and online communication. If you meet more frequently (monthly, for exacmple), consider making sure the officer meeting is much shorter than the regular guild meeting. If you choose to meet less frequently, consider using a yearly retreat model where decisions are made for an entire calendar year in one epic meeting and followed up on via regular communication throughout the year.

The focus of guild officer meetings is always the health and mission of your local organization. What is required to keep your guild healthy? Do you need to raise more money or gain new members? Is your meeting time and space adequate to the desires and needs of your members? What kinds of meetings and activities could your guild be offering to enrich and support your current and future membership? What programming could your guild incorporate to promote the education and appreciation of modern quilting?

 

KEEPING YOUR GUILD OFFICER MEETINGS FOCUSED

The president should create an agenda in advance of the meeting that covers all of the board members’ duties as needed. For example, the treasurer reports in on finances, the secretary on membership and minutes from the last board meeting, etc. Ask for these items in advance of the meeting as well as any potential new officer business.

Also, look out at least six months to a year in advance and create agenda items for upcoming events, opportunities, or even potential problems for your guild officers. Is there a theme or outline for every general guild meeting between this board meeting and the next? Is there a plan for several general meetings beyond?

Look at all the agenda items for the officer meeting and assign an expected time period for that item. For example, a report of minutes from the last officers meeting might take 10 minutes or more if they are all read aloud, could that be circulated via email as a document and confirmed in less than five minutes without reading every detail? Other examples: five minutes for the treasurer reporting on finances and any questions that might arise and 30 minutes to loosely plan the general meeting schedule for the next three months.

Compare the sum of time on your meeting agenda to the time you have for your meeting. If you have three hours worth of agenda items and only 60 minutes, you will need to make decisions on what must be covered during this in-person meeting and what may be addressed through other means or at a later date.

Examine and rank the necessity of each item on the agenda. If you regularly give a treasurer’s report at your general meeting, do your guild officers need to spend 10 minutes or any minutes at all on it in your guild officer meeting? Should finance discussions be moved to budget discussions once a or twice a year and as needed when discussing agenda items that touch on guild budgets like a quilt show, a fundraiser, or a speaker/teacher?

If you find your meetings are creeping out of the time allotted for them, use meeting strategies from the business world that help keep things on track. This may mean limiting small talk or a time-management and decision-making strategy like ‘Lean Coffee’ where the guild officers decide together on a unit of time and every time a topic hits that limit (say seven minutes), the group votes on whether to continue on that topic or move on to another. Such strategies can also help in situations, where a single officer may monopolize the meeting by focusing too much on a single concern, by allowing the guild officers as a whole to determine the direction of the meeting. Try rearranging the agenda and work from the bottom of the list to the top of the list if the bottom items keep getting pushed off the agenda by spending too much time on the same early items meeting after meeting.

It is important to strike a balance between healthy discussion amongst the officers and keeping meetings focused and a reasonable length of time for your officers. The president is responsible for running meetings, and that may include setting limits on the amount of discussion on any particular topic or encouraging the board to move on to new topics even if they do not all feel that the discussion is over.

 

SUCCESSION PLANNING FOR OFFICERS:

Ensuring officer positions are filled year after year can be a daunting task without proper planning. Many guild members will feel they are not qualified for positions or may not understand what level of commitment is required from a position. Encouraging members to volunteer for minor leadership positions, such as committee heads,can expose members to how your board operates with less pressure. Your guild can consider including leadership funnels in your bylaws such as the current year vice president commits to serving as the guild president the following year, etc.

Many organizations have a “Continuum of Volunteerism.” This is the idea that you first ask a person for a small task, like bringing cookies to a meeting. Once they have helped in this small way, they might be more willing to organize a bigger project — like the block lotto next month, for example. In time they may be willing to head up the retreat next year (a larger task). After a large ask, you may want to consider asking them for a smaller task again (bringing cookies), to give them a break or give someone else a larger task. This is a great way to form of funnel of people who may eventually end up on your guild board. There are also many people who may just be happy to bring the cookies, in which case you will have delicious cookies at every meeting.

It is also important to start the nomination/selection process for officers early. This ensures a smooth transition can be made from current officers to new officers. This also ensures plenty of time to fill vacant positions and gives the current officers time to reach out to guild members to discuss potentially volunteering in a leadership role with the guild.

Often at the end of an officer’s terms or as part of the election process, publicly thanking your officers for their hard work can be an important part of honoring and making visible that the work being done and can illuminate the roles in your guild. This thanking can take the form of a round of applause at a meeting after a particular milestone in each officers term, or as a physical gift for the outgoing officers each year. A thank you gift seems simple, and your guild may only have a small amount to budget for a physical gift, but this token of the guild’s appreciation of the officer’s work can go a long way towards making the hours of volunteering seem worth it. This public acknowledgement can also encourage members to take on a role that requires more of their time because they know it will be appreciated.

 

 

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