PASSING THE BATON

Less than a month ago Stayatworkfatherofthree, ended a one year term as President or our sons’ school (P&C) Parents & Citizens Association (i.e. PTA for North America).

It was a roller coaster year, with no shortage of drama and change.   During which the Vice-President stood in for me the times I was away on business and the dreadful time I was in hospital with Strep A infection for nine days.  Nevertheless, we had so many people helping us and won P&C of the Year and AUD1,000.

Consequently, one of my last duties as President was to give a presentation at the regional P&C and elaborate to other executives our methodology and winning strategy.  Below is the summary of my presentation and it reminded me the purpose of this blog is to transfer knowledge that might help people fight poverty, procrastination and perception.  My purpose and structure for the presentation was to give three (3) takeaways, lessons, techniques etc. the audience could take home and use at their own schools.

As very eager as I was to clear the decks of my responsibilities, so I would have more time to devote to our boating activities, although our children would continue to attend this school.  So passing the baton would need to be done with diligence.

OUR WINNING STORY

TAKEWAY 1

In my 25 year career, in every organization I have worked, whether not-for-profit or company or P&C, they all look like an orchestra.  Everyone knows it takes all kinds to make a circus, although none of us would want to refer to our P&C as a circus.  Nor would all kinds to make a zoo be a fit description of a P&C as too many animal jokes about monkeys and pigs😉.    Sometimes a P&C might only look like a Quartet given there is only three or four people covering the roles of President, VP , Secretary and Treasurer. 

Sometimes you may only see some members or volunteers once a year.  They might not come to every meeting.  They might just show up and give a helping hand and disappear.  That is really like the person in orchestra that ‘tings’ the triangle at the end of the piece.  A P&C can have loud and soft members.  Some stand readily, some remain sitting.  Some use their lungs, some use their hands.  You get the idea.   As a President, just as a Conductor, we do not dictate or micromanage.  We are there to keep everyone on the same sheet.  The same score.  Just like code of conduct, constitution, risk management policy etc.  We keep the right speed, tempo and direction, but the members have their own flavor and flourishes.  It is difficult at the beginning, messy in the middle and glorious at the end.  The orchestra’s audience is a P&C’s students, teachers, staff and community. 

It is my hope you return to your schools and see your diverse membership and school volunteers in this way when things seem tough or someone is being difficult, remember we need everyone and they all have a voice.

TAKEAWAY 2

Many of us work full-time or part-time, or work from home, we all have kids and the stress of families etc.  One way to organize your P&C duties and ‘chunk’ them into the best time of the day to get them complete faster, is a system my company developed when we literally had 100 things to do.  Couple that with my experience in cold calling businesses and interviewing candidates, these are the best times of day to conduct certain activities according to the type of task they are and the outside input that might be required.

6am – 9am  OPERATIONAL TASKS

Specifically getting things out to delegated parties.  Things that need to be posted or signed and then sent etc.  Getting projects into the hands of those who are going to have to do them, especially if third party providers.  Stuff that you can do without other people around as most people are not at work that early and before your kids start breakfasting etc.  No outside input required.  You have just woken from however much sleep you managed the night before and should have just enough time to write down all your great new ideas and insights before the chaos starts.  (Eg. Advanced execution of 5-Year Plan Objectives; Diversified Kitchen Garden Activities; Liaised with Council regarding street parking; Successful battery recycling program; Supported OSHC services; Enriched physical school environment)

9am-12pm HUMAN RESOURCES

The gates are open and people are at work, at their offices, kids are at school.  People are fresh and ready to start the day.  This is a good time to handle Human Resource related matters while people have alertness and attention spans.  You can call suppliers and organizers about things.  They will take your calls and people want business concluded early and off their plate.  (The worst time to deal with HR matters is at end of day when they are totally exhausted from an 8 hour shift). (Eg.  Thanked departing staff, including Principal; Hosted P&C Day morning tea, P&C membership up from 29 to 37 (up 27%); Revived Pool Sub-committee status; Increased collaboration with P&C QLD; President’s unsuccessful P&C open-day; Emailed enlightening P&C member survey; Universal reduction in negative behavior; Participated in Prep Orientation; Attended P&Cs Qld State Conference; Endorsed Positive Culture for Learning)

12pm-3pm MARKETING AND SALES

This is an awesome time to call companies for donations.  It is just after their lunch and love getting a call and talking to someone about business before they get snowed under by their regular work so they relish time to lean back and let their lunch digest and everyone walking past thinks they are doing some big deal on the phone.  Then school pick up time is a great time to talk to parents and potential P&C members.  Awesome time to recruit volunteers and tell them what P&C is up to if they never get to meetings.  Spread the word. (eg. Supported Entertainment Book sales initiative; Revived School Banking Program;  Installed commercial grade worm farm; Hosted Election Day Stall & BBQ; Funded very profitable island Twilight Carnival; Started $1K Go Fund Me page for athlete; Supervised School Disco; Received Rotary donation for BBQ; Liaised closer with Parliament members;  P&C of the Year Award)

3pm-6pm ADMINISTRATION AND ACCOUNTING

After 3pm you have the kids at home, juggling attention between other duties and it is too late to call companies for help or donations because they are all getting ready to go home themselves.  Accounting is really tracking money that is already spent and administration is tweeking documents etc. So these tasks can be mundane and lack urgency or business hour attention.  They involve data entry and can be done at the end of the day with interruptions and waning energy. (Provided you double check your work the next morning or someone else will be dealing with the final edit).  The day is over and no urgent tasks can be handed in as everywhere is closed.  Best thing to do is plan and plod. (Eg. Subsidised student activities and excursions; Enhanced Sensory Happy Reading Space; Funded purchase of Year 6 shirts; Funded fruit snacks for after-school sport)

Obviously, we are not a suggesting a 12 hour day!  Nor do these Core Four organizational categories have be tended to each day.  It is merely an illustration of the best time of day to conduct those tasks on days you have time or need to have them completed. 

TAKEAWAY 3

I started by mentioning we had so many past presidents and past executive members that were still involved with ongoing projects from the 5-year plan and were working on things daily like kitchen garden and grant proposal writing along with pool committee, news agency that gives a percentage back to the school on any stationary/books at Term 1, involved with school sports activities etc.  Our success and strength has come from the mutual respect past, present and future P&C executive members have for each other, the cooperation and continued involvement they have in making this the best school for all our kids. 

Nevertheless, we were perplexed that we had 150 volunteers and only 37 members, considering none of the current P&C executive had three heads.  So we did a very rough and simple bush telegraph survey of our current members and sent them just a basic email with 5 questions requiring only a yes or no answer.   We didn’t use any fancy program like ‘SurveyMonkey’ or give them any form etc.  Just an email asking these 5 questions (then I read out the 5 questions we emailed). 

Then I flashed up on screen just the bottom part of page in last newsletter before AGM that showed our survey results and coupled that with the 5 myths of P&C (and PTA as well).   I reminded them we published that just one week before the AGM and directly or indirectly we got 18 new members and now have a total of 40 members.

Myth 1: It will take up too much of my time.

Fact 1: Meetings are only 90 minutes long and 85% of our membership say it adds value to their own personal development.

Myth 2: My one vote will not make any impact.

Fact 2: 85% of our members say being in our P&C (PTA) enhanced their child’s 2017/18 learning outcomes.

Myth 3: These things are too political and argumentative.

Fact 3: 85% of our members feel our P&C (PTA) increased their social capital, personally, at home, at school and in the wider community.

Myth 4: Our family won’t see any direct benefits.

Fact 4: 85% of our members reported increases in their child’s positive behaviour.

Myth 5: The school staff are the only ones with any real power anyway.

Fact 5: 100% of our members said being in the P&C (PTA) helped improve our school’s culture (for learning).

 

(This really stole the show and even the Toastmasters and Chaplaincy presenters were taking notes up the back waiting for their turn to do their session).

I then Thanked them and hoped those 3 takeaways would be useful in their P&C roles with whatever population they are working with.

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