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The Liaison’s Role in Training New Officers


The Liaison’s Role in Training New Officers

By Marguerite D’Angelo & Tim Braunscheidel

July is an exciting month in the U.S of A. Fireworks displays light the night skies while their exploding shockwaves send a pulse of freedom and honor coursing through our veins. From coast to coast many of us will spend our days basking in the rays of our independence; hanging ten in the surf of southern Cal; savoring Mackinac Island fudge while fishing the great lakes; strolling along the freedom trail leading from the ever so tranquil swan boats to the once turbulent Bunker Hill; enjoying succulent crab cakes while perched atop a duck that waddles through the streets and local waterways, just to name a few. Yes, July is all that and a bag of peanuts at Fenway. But for our CSI liaisons and building members, it is much more. It is a time of change and with that change comes a great responsibility.

July 1 marks the day the helm changes hands and the newly elected officers set sail on a journey that they may view as very scary and quite possibly, impossible. New officers are faced with a mountain of responsibility from day one. Liaisons should let the new building officers know that we will be on the front line in the trenches with them, holding the donut, excuse me, holding the torch well out in front of them, lighting the way with encouragement and education. The liaisons and the newly elected officers have a lot of training to complete and guidelines to establish to get comfortable with their new responsibilities and with each other. Liaisons need to evaluate each set of officers, with regard to their commitment to the co-op system, their reasons for running for office, their attitude towards CSI, their abilities and their attitude towards their fellow members. These things need to be evaluated because working with officers is not a one size fits all cookie cutter system – it requires individual attention to detail based on with whom the liaison is working. In order to coordinate a plan for working with officers for orderly co-op management, you need to take that first step.

The next step is to sit down with the officers, as early as possible and set some ground rules for working together. When can they call you? How often can they call you? When do they want your regularly scheduled weekly visits to occur? Do they prefer to communicate by phone or email? Do they prefer verbal reminders or written correspondence for their reference? What do they hope to accomplish in the next year? Make this conversation as social and interactive as possible. The idea is to make a connection that will set up your working relationship for the next year. If you were a volunteer, how would you like to be approached by a paid staff member?

In the early weeks of their term, stay in close contact to let the officers know that we are all on the same team. Offer tours of the mechanical systems. Talk about how the president is supervising maintenance staff and offer suggestions if you see the need. Ask how the president is going to keep floor reps in the communication loop and again offer suggestions to help the president along. What are the officers going to do to encourage participation by all members? These seem like basic questions, however it takes time to have all of these conversations and make this connection. And time is at a premium for the CSI liaisons. Stretching yourself during July and the beginning of August can actually save you a lot of time later in the co-op year because you set a good foundation for working together.

This working foundation often becomes personal and that is probably the most important foundation you could build with your officers. Work hard at listening to their complaints and concerns and treat them with priority. No matter how trivial they may seem to us it just might be the straw… for them. Always, follow up in a timely manner. By being consistent and honest in all that we say and do, our officers will come to believe and trust in us. They need to know that we will be there for them. Remember, at the end of the day we return home to our families and try to forget about the day’s struggles. Meanwhile, our officers are already home and may find it very difficult to escape that struggle.

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