Four Steps to Unit Retention

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Commissioners own unit retention. Unit commissioners can take ownership by taking these four steps:

  1. Unit Visits
    Unit visits are the foundation of unit service; without them, commissioners can’t develop the relationships with unit leaders and the knowledge of unit operations needed to provide effective service. Engaged unit commissioners visit their units regularly. Journey to Excellence requirements for the number of visits made can set a district or council unit service team on the path to continuous improvement. The current defined standard for JTE Gold is a total of six visits in the course of a year. The Commissioner Award of Excellence in Unit Service sets the bar for excellence at 12 visits per year, six of which are physical visits (such as unit meetings, unit activities, leader meetings, and summer camp) and six of which may be significant contacts by telephone, two-way electronic communication, or in person. Our Unit Performance Guide sets a similar standard for visits to new units during their first 36 months of operation: one per month.

  2. Unit Health Assessments
    Unit commissioners are called upon to complete at least two unit health assessments per year (in January and July). For units not achieving any JTE level, an action plan to assist in reaching at least JTE Bronze should be developed. The July assessment is also an excellent opportunity to conduct a midyear review with unit leaders of progress toward JTE goals; the January assessment is an equally excellent opportunity to review JTE performance for the year just completed and set new goals for the coming year. Unit health assessments should be shared with the district’s Key 3 to identify opportunities to link units needing additional support with district operating committee resources.

    There is one additional opportunity for a unit health assessment: whenever a unit experiences a significant change in key unit leadership (unit leader, committee chair, or chartered organization representative). Commissioners should also incorporate Voice of the Scout data in developing unit health assessments.

    The Unit Performance Guide is an excellent resource for unit-serving commissioners on a variety of topics, including unit health assessments. All commissioners should be familiar with this guide and review it periodically to remain current on the contemporary unit service processes it details.

  3. Making and Sharing Unit Visit Reports and Action Plans
    Reports of unit visits should be recorded in our Unit Visit Tracking System. Reports should include more than dates, numbers, and quality indicator check marks. Brief comments, using JTE terminology, enable data entered into UVTS to become actionable information that can be shared with other members of the district or council unit service team and members of the district or council operations committee to link units to expertise needed to meet unique needs. Unit health assessments and key elements of action plans can also be entered in UVTS, which will facilitate linkage to needed expertise.

  4. Charter Renewal
    Timely renewal of unit charters is the last—and most critical—step to unit retention. If the previous three steps have been completed effectively throughout the year, this last one is far easier. The relationships built through regular unit visits will facilitate communication to support charter renewal and identify potential challenges. Unit health assessments and action plans will identify units at risk and enable them to access additional resources that may be needed to ensure timely charter renewal and unit retention. If unit visits have been made (and reported in UVTS) throughout the year, there should be no surprises during charter renewal.

See "USES for UVTS" elsewhere in this issue for ways to collect actionable information in our Unit Visit Tracking System.