The Need to Recruit Hasn’t Changed—Or Has It?

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Visiting our local councils is a great experience! The commitment and enthusiasm of our commissioners is energizing—and their questions are often thought-provoking.

By now, you probably know that the 2015 unit service Journey to Excellence goals for districts and councils include significant changes. One is the elimination of the traditional 3-to-1 ratio (an average of three units served by each commissioner). That raised an interesting question during a recent visit: “What are you really telling us? Are commissioners less important?” An interesting perspective—and far from the intent of the change.

Consider this: The ratio objective was replaced with a unit retention objective. For years we’ve said that commissioners “own” retention. In 2015, we’re going to measure the impact of the work we do. That’s a good thing. Unit retention is critical to Scouting’s success, and that means commissioners are important.

Or this: Our simple and unified approach to unit service calls for us to “provide an adequate number of trained commissioners who provide a link to district committees in support of a quality unit program.” “Adequate” isn’t defined; that was intentional. The needs of each unit service team in our local councils will determine the “adequate” number of trained commissioners to help our units better serve more kids through Scouting.

In our last issue, we talked about the five “P’s” of recruiting commissioners: Preparation, Passion, Potential, Priorities, and Poaching. An “adequate” number of trained commissioners has a lot to do with Priorities. Even the most dedicated commissioner’s obligations at home or at work may make it impossible to take on three units. Our single greatest challenge in unit service is sustaining new units and, as a result, the Unit Performance Guide methodology calls for us to assign a dedicated unit commissioner to each new unit for its first 36 months. Priorities may require more commissioners to serve units effectively.

Unit service is all about impact. By changing our performance metric to unit retention, rather than the ratio of units to commissioners, we’re focusing on the impact commissioners should have on the units they serve. In Scouting’s second century, unit service is more important than ever, and that’s exactly what this change tells us.

The need to recruit commissioners hasn’t changed. It’s continuous. Use the five “P’s” to ensure we have an “adequate” number of them.