a publication for commissioners and professionals

Fall 2021


Jim Libbin
Council Support Chair 

It’s About the Impact: Commissioner Culture and Unit Assessments

Every administrative commissioner, especially district and council commissioners, struggles with the low rates of unit contact reporting—for both simple and detailed contacts. Talking about the low rates of reporting, setting goals for unit contact reporting, providing instructions, or even begging unit commissioners to make contacts and complete an assessment doesn’t seem to move the needle much, if at all. For the unit and administrative commissioners who have experience completing assessments on their own, the process seems simple enough and is something we agree every commissioner should do. So, why the low rates? Can the contact reporting rate ever be moved up?

Let’s explore this question from a different perspective, from the unit commissioner’s point of view. Why aren’t they motivated to record unit visits in the Commissioner Tools system? Maybe the bulk of our unit commissioners don’t see the true value; maybe they just hear their district commissioners talk about numbers on a chart.

As an administrative commissioner, what have you done to show the unit commissioners on your team that you value and make use of their impressions? Instead of talking about numbers, percentages, rates, comparisons to other districts or councils, or comparisons to your goals, have you proven to your commissioners that their contacts contribute to unit health in your district or council?

A new culture of sharing information and valuing input is required, and that new culture starts at the top. How often has your council commissioner reported back to their commissioner’s cabinet what they learned from reading every one of the entered contact reports—simple assessments, detailed assessments and unit service plans—even if there were just a handful recorded? As a district commissioner, would that motivate you to do the same: to read every contact report in your district and report to your monthly district commissioner team meeting what you learned about the strength of your district’s units?

Changing a culture may take time, but it will be the only lasting way to motivate your unit commissioners. Motivate them; thank them; explore their impressions about their units’ strengths, weaknesses, progress, needs and plans. Make them know without doubt that you value their knowledge—knowledge gained from reading, digesting and recognizing good work. We don’t need a new patch or certificate as a reward for good work; simple recognition from our administrative commissioners that we are doing a good job should be sufficient for those who have come to serve.

Culture change may start from the bottom, but it’s more likely that lasting impact will result from the council commissioner’s attention to changing the culture at the top and communicating that through the system to the real experts in this process—the unit commissioners. This commitment can potentially lead to greater reporting of unit health, which can build unit strength, Scout satisfaction, volunteer satisfaction and overall retention. It’s not about the numbers; it’s about the impact!

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