Module 2 – Laying the Foundation

This training was developed more than a decade ago. If you see something that should be updated, please drop me a note.

 

Laying the Foundation

What Is the Role of a Unit Commissioner?

The Unit Commissioner probably has one of the most demanding and important roles on the unit service team. He/she must be the friend, counselor and mentor to unit leaders while operating quietly in the background. His/her primary tool is persuasion, when it is necessary to recommend changes. This means that a Unit Commissioner needs to be a “people” person, a team player, one who fulfills promises, a believer in the ideals of Scouting, adaptable, and enthusiastic.

The role of the Unit Commissioner is to:

1. Maintain a close liaison with the chartered organizations and units they serve.
2. Work to assure effective and active committees.
3. Encourage unit personnel to participate in Roundtables.
4. Establish good lines of communication between unit personnel and both Council and District leaders.
5. Help select and recruit unit leaders.
6. Be constantly alert to falling into the trap of doing everything except his/her job; e.g running SME/FOS campaigns. The UC’s job is unit service!
7. Cultivate and maintain the best possible ongoing relationship with the unit leader. This is probably the most important role of all!!! Based on comments from many experienced Commissioners here are some points to consider:

a. Things that make the Unit — Commissioner Relationship Better

1] Communications
2] Innovative ideas
3] Seen as helping the unit
4] Esprit de corps
5] Provide J.L.T.
6] Recognize when there is a need for change
7] Encourage unit pride
8] Willingness to help
9] Friendship
10] Unit treated like the customer
11] Finding opportunities and solutions
12] Using the eleven leadership skills
13] Model behavior, setting the example
14] Knowing what resources are available
b. Things that make the Unit — Commissioner Relationship Worse

1] Apathy
2] Physical distance
3] Demands of real world jobs
4] Demands of other Scouting jobs
5] Too many Scouting jobs
6] Burnout
7] No training or not the right training for the job
8] Personality conflicts
9] Uneven work loads
10] Not knowing what resources are available
11] Lack of leadership
12] Placing blame
13] Finding problems
14] Negative attitudes
c. A Few Pointers

1] The unit leaders are your peers — don’t talk down to them.
2] You are a coach — don’t dominate.
3] It’s not your unit — don’t try to take it over.
4] Help the unit discover solutions — don’t act like an expert.
5] Look for opportunities — don’t always find problems.
6] Blame processes and systems — don’t blame or criticize unit leaders personally
7] Be persistent — don’t walk away and do nothing
8] Support Scouting — don’t take it out on the leaders or boys
9] Do what you said you would do — and when you said you would do it.
10] Don’t break promises.
11] Model the appropriate behavior — don’t allow your actions to contradict your words.
8. Constantly evaluate the success of the unit in providing a quality program and communicating the status of the unit to the ADC. Unit Commissioners should use the Unit Commissioner Work Sheet (Pack), Unit Commissioner Work Sheet (Troop), and Unit Commissioner Work Sheet (Post) to review the status of each unit. Each work sheet has dozens of helpful suggestions on helping the units to do a better job. Use judgment as to when it is appropriate to offer recommendations. These work sheets are available from your local Council Scout Service Center.


What Is the Role of an Assistant District Commissioner?

Assistant District Commissioners can make or break a District’s ability to see that every unit receives competent Commissioner service. Even in the best District, the District Commissioner cannot personally oversee the recruiting, training, and management of every Unit Commissioner. This is the job of the ADC. ADCs are supervising Commissioners. Ideally there should be one ADC for every five Unit Commissioners or fifteen units.

ADCs work closely not only with Unit Commissioners, but also with the District Commissioner and District Director. This team must have a vision of effective Scouting, which in turn must be communicated to every unit leader in the District. This means that ADCs need to have good “people” skills and that they:

1. Must recruit quality Unit Commissioners.
2. Provide clear instructions and specific instructions for their staffs.
3. Listen to what people say and understand what people feel.
4. Never play favorites and always be independent of personalities.
5. Coach Unit Commissioners through real unit problem-solving situations.
6. Praise each Commissioner often for specific achievements.
7. Never try to take over for their staff, but always be ready to give support.
8. Always be there to help their staffs succeed.
9. Measure Unit Commissioner progress not by the number of meetings attended, but by the way they handle their responsibilities.


The ADC’s job is accomplished largely on a person-to-person basis. Although, the ADC will attend numerous District and Service Area meetings, service to individual units is best planned as an ADC meets with one to five individual Unit Commissioners.

What Is an Annual Service Plan?

The Annual Service Plan is used by the ADCs to encourage Unit Commissioners to make unit visits and that Unit Commissioners guide units towards having activities that foster a great Scouting program resulting in the unit qualifying for the Quality Unit Award.

The recommended plan follow the normal yearly cycle of unit life and covers adding new members, purchasing uniforms, preparing for summer camp, unit program planning, and replacing adult leadership. The Annual Service Plan has the following elements.

1. Membership Inventory: Usually this conducted in December and again just a few weeks before the unit’s charter renewal meeting.
2. Uniform Inspection: This is held in the fall for Cub Scout Packs and in both the Spring and Fall for Scout Troops.
3. Quality Unit Measurement: This is usually conducted by the Unit Commissioner during the first month of the new charter year. The local Council reports the results to the National Office by December 31 each year.
4. Unit Leadership Inventory. This is conducted by the Unit Commissioner and Unit Committee by April 30 each year.
5. Charter Presentation Ceremony: The Unit Commissioner should present the unit and Chartered Partner with the charter within 30 days after the renewal of the charter.
6. Unit Program Planning: This should be completed by August 31.
7. Youth Protection Training: This is best conducted in the fall of each year.
8. Other Commissioner Functions: These are ongoing all year. This involves helping the unit to solve problems and unit meetings, promoting Roundtable, and providing other help and resource information as needed.

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2 Responses to Module 2 – Laying the Foundation

  1. avatar
    George McMullin June 4, 2012 at 13:45 #

    More minor stuff:
    7.a.11 – change “Frinding” to “Finding”

    • avatar
      NetCommish June 4, 2012 at 21:03 #

      Good catch! Corrected. Thanks George.

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