The Volunteer–Professional Relationship

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Darlene Sprague
National Commissioner Service Resources Chair

We have often mentioned the need to foster a great relationship with the unit Key 3 when providing unit service. There is another relationship that needs to be cultivated as well in order to provide great unit service. That relationship is the one you have with the professional staff member assigned to work with commissioners. This professional may have a title like district executive, district director, director of field service, or some variation.

It is important to create a working relationship so that the professional knows he or she can count on you for certain aspects of service. Whatever you agree to do to provide unit service and subsequent feedback to the commissioner corps and the professional, you should keep your promise. Show through word and deed that you can be counted on to guide the unit or units assigned to you.

Providing feedback to professionals will let them know that all is well with the unit, and they can focus on other units that may need help.

Be courteous of professionals’ time. They work flexible hours so they can meet their commitments in the evenings while still trying to have a family life. Discuss their schedule and what means of communication will work for you both. Be sure to find out when they are on vacation so you can respect that time unless there’s an emergency. In this age of instant communication with text, phone, and email, it is easy to accidentally barge in on a well-earned vacation.

Take your professional out for coffee, breakfast, or lunch, and buy the meal once in a while. Show that you consider your relationship one of mutual respect and friendship.

Take the time to find out what your professional enjoys doing when not busy with Scouting. Does he or she have hobbies or favorite activities? Learn about his or her family and what it was like growing up. Remember that the professional may not be from your area.

It is more fun to work alongside someone when you are friends. And that friendship can last long after he or she serves in your district or council. I speak from experience.