Planning & Goals for 2021

Goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021

I’m a firm believer in planning and starting out new projects or years with the end in mind. At this time of year, people are usually thinking more about this year or the next. Finishing off the previous year’s accounts and reports all combined with the festive season. A review and analysis of the year is useful, and a good use of that review is realising what was stressful about this period and ensuring, where possible, that you don’t repeat any problems.

To quote Paul Grey (CEO of the Quiet Company) during his presentation at the Q&B annual conference earlier this year, “Did anyone have a ‘global pandemic’ on their risk register??” This year has been full of problems and challenges, but also some new inspiration and learning.

How to review

Looking back at 2020 (or earlier) what do you know you don’t want to do? Where did things go wrong, or what mistakes were avoided? Have you written down any lessons learned? Where necessary, have you amended or created policies to help prevent a repeat?

A good place to start is to read through last year’s agendas and minutes (useful for creating an annual report or introduction for new members, if you haven’t already). Grab a drink and make notes as you go along, keeping an eye out for patterns and gaps. That data will help with your planning for 2021 and beyond, or point out some gaps.

Starting right

This is also the time of year that new committee members arrive. Do you have a procedure for that arrival, is there an onboarding pack, or do you just presume they will learn everything through osmosis? Remember, you don’t want to overload them – immediately handing over the Operations Manual may be a bit much! However, you want to give them an idea of what they’ll be tackling over the next year. A summary document, or a copy of an agenda calendar mentioned below, will surely be gratefully received.

Onboarding, also known as organizational socialization, is management jargon first created in the 1970s that refers to the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors in order to become effective organizational members and insiders.

Wikipedia

Looking ahead

It’s also worth the committee taking some time to consider where they’d like to be in January 2022. Are there projects you want to be ready to start? Or ones you hope to finish? Possible entries for your list include deciding to create or improve corporate memory documentation, doing a data audit, arranging a building tour, or sending members to a conference or training course.

Planning

On the MBS resources tab are two spreadsheets, one for AM clerks and one for Premises committees; both have the same remit. By calendarising regular tasks and agenda items, you not only ensure they don’t fall by the wayside but also free up memory – you no longer need to worry or think about these items, as you know they are safely recorded. It is a simple form of corporate memory, and a useful piece of evidence of good governance and maintenance if things go wrong.

  • Do you have a plan for this year?
  • What would ‘successful’ look like?
  • What simple thing can you decide to do (or not do!) this month that helps set you up for a successful year ahead?

Generic Email Addresses or how to prevent memory loss…

email
email from Sean MacEntee on Flickr

What is a generic email address and why do I think they are important?

An example of a generic email address is which for a office or that office holder rather than a person. For Quaker Meetings’ Friends House offer the option to have a standard email address, yourmeeting@quaker.org.uk – which is actually a forwarding address which will send any email to whichever email or email addresses you tell it to. In practice these are usually set up to forward to the clerk or correspondence clerk of the meeting. In the case of co-clerks it would forward to both.

However – the new clerk(s) starts off with a clean slate, as all the old emails are in someone else’s personal account.

This is a bit like taking over a new job and discovering the last person took the contents of the desk and filing cabinet with them! Usually when you take over a job you are able to have a hand over period, or at least dig through the files to find out what x is or who y is.

A shared email account can be two people ‘me&him@emailclient.com’ or it can be for an office or post.

If you send email to the clerk of London Quakers you write to ‘Clerk London Quakers at gmail dot com’ which is an email account shared by the clerking team. You can create similar accounts for Treasurers or any office post you feel might want to ease transitions and avoid memory loss.

This shared email account means

  • the outgoing post holders don’t have people continuing to write to them, nor do they have to keep explaining that they’ve left that post
  • you don’t have to notify everyone on your contact list to get them to change their email address books
  • if the new office holder needs to find some information out they can do a search on the emails (and document folders – but that’s a different post) rather than asking you
  • any existing conversations can continue as the new person able to ‘catch up’ by reading back and then replying to the existing thread.
  • when you don’t want to deal with your role’s email you don’t have to – and can still read your own personal email.

However, it is fairly simple to set up a domain and have email attached – where you can then have clerk@yourmeetingsname.org.uk If your meeting already has a website it is worth asking the webmaster or hosting company to see if that is possible. A full POP3 email account means you can receive and send email from that address, and any email will be stored on their server so accessible for several people.

I set up or mange such email accounts for my clients, this ensures not only can I access their email remotely – so can they! Importantly they can continue to access it if things change. For example, if I’ve been supporting a meeting between wardens and they’ve now appointed, as it is simple to hand back control of their email account and have all the correspondence to enable a smooth handover to the new system.

  • How does your meeting support transitions between office holders?
  • Do you use generic email addresses?

Affording our Meeting Houses

2013 06 18 Collection boxThis could be taken two ways – how do we ensure that the Meeting House is affordable for both the local community and the worshipping community that uses it. Not only financially, but also with reference back to an earlier post: Beacon or Burden.

Hopefully, all Quaker Meetings are a spirit-led, all-age faith community trying to create a vibrant worshipping community, based on their testimonies of equality, integrity/truth, peace, simplicity & sustainability. From that there is the expectation that this community should be able to support itself & its activities.

I’ve talked about how you can increase the visibility of and welcome to your building for both potential hirers and visitors. These actions can hopefully increase the numbers of hirers and enquirers who find you.

Now I’m widening this to the more intangible costs – I’ll cover ways of reducing utilities etc. later.

In this post instead I’m going to talk about the costs on the members of the Quaker community that uses the building.

  • How can we find ways to empower all members of the meeting to take responsibility for their meeting?
  • How can we decide each time a decision or suggestion is made if this a good use of our meeting’s energy and time?
  • What is our Meeting’s Ministry and how can we work together to achieve it?

Obviously, I could talk about outsourcing some of the routine tasks – cleaning, gardening, bookkeeping, lettings administration but those are the easy ways to release energy.

Or I could mention that Clerking teams or combined Eldership & Oversight work well for many meetings. There needs to be a balance between keeping the jobs within a small ‘weighty friend’ circle and overburdening a new attender or member.

  • What ways are there for ensuring the work is equally spread between new and more experienced Quakers?
  • What ways are there to experiment with structures and ensure everyone feels able to contribute?
  • What ways have you found in your Meeting to do this?