Are Your Service Unit Meetings Worth a Leader's Time?
As a Girl Scout leader, one of the many things that you are supposed to do is attend your Service Unit’s monthly leader meetings. These gatherings should be a source of information for everyone in your Council and a chance for people to connect.
However, many troops fail to have any adult in charge come to the meeting. Although it cannot be made mandatory to attend, (after all, we are volunteers) many Service Unit leaders scratch their heads and wonder why only a handful of troops are represented each month, and they are typically the same women.
As a leader who actually attends her monthly meetings, here are my suggestions for to make yours something your people want to and look forward to attending each and every month.
Do Leader's Know That There is a Meeting?
As a member of the Service Unit, it is your job to remind leaders that a meeting is taking place. Yes, they should already know that the third Wednesday of the month is when you meet, but busy people (and leaders are the kind of women who are busy) need reminders. An email blast a day or two before the meeting insures that people are made aware of it.
Circulate Among the Leaders
Do the women in your Council know who you are? Service Team members should make it a point to introduce themselves to the other leaders and make sure they are aware of what role you play and how you can help. You need to be the point of reference, but how can you be that if no one knows who you are because you are sitting with the other Service Team members?
Start the Meeting on Time
Meetings need to start on time. In the business world, CEO’s and CFO’s do not tolerate tardiness and will not wait for an employee to come in before they get down to business, so why should the Girl Scouts? Because we are a group of volunteers and are not getting paid for our time, the same attitude of respect should be maintained.
There were complaints at my local SU meetings about our 7:30 starting time being held until 7:45 to accommodate the latecomers. As a prompt person, I resented waiting fifteen minutes for those who, for whatever reason, could not arrive on time. Our meetings now begin around 7:35, so we can sign in, get our paperwork and find a seat.
Have an Agenda and Stick to It
It is important to stay on topic. By having an agenda, you can keep the meeting running in an orderly and timely fashion. The monthly meeting is not the time for planning group events that do not involve the entire Girl Scout community sitting there; this is the time to share Council events and other timely news that is of interest to leaders.
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Provide Free Babysitting
Some leaders may choose not to attend because they have to drag their kids with them. I have had to do this and listen to my kids whine when they were younger. It can be a major distraction to the others at your table, as well as yourself.
My Service Unit now has a solution to that problem. A Cadette troop takes the children into an adjoining room and plays games with the children and has crayons and paper for them to draw. This has been a huge success and as an attendee, I appreciate the ability to listen to the adults in charge and not the kids who want to go home.
Keep the Meetings Short
It does not matter if a leader is a stay at home mom or someone who works outside the home, her time is valuable and she is tired at the end of the day. Keeping your meeting to under one hour will benefit everyone involved, including the members of the service team.
Our meetings used to drag on, but they have become streamlined to about a half hour. I love this and know that I can get home at a reasonable hour so I can get on my pajamas and relax at the end of my day.
Make the Meetings Informative
When I was a new Daisy leader, my favorite meetings revolved talking to other Daisy leaders. We shared ideas, what we did at meetings, and what we were struggling with. This only happened two or three times, but this is something I remember five years later.
Several times a year, meetings should have a block of time for troop levels to meet, talk and share. Service Team members can monitor the groups to keep them on track and provide assistance.
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Sell Tickets to Events at the End of the Meeting
Now they are sold at the end of the meeting, so leaders have to stay if they wish their troop to attend. They are only sold once, so if a leader does not show up, her girls cannot go.
Call it bribery, but if your meeting attendance is spotty or low, maybe this is the time to reward attendance. Check your sign in sheet or have the leader check in with their troop level advisor to have her name checked off on the list. Perfect attendance can be rewarded with a gift certificate to the Girl Scout store or something else that will benefit the woman’s troop.
Take a Survey
If all else fails, send out a survey and find out why your leaders are not attending your meetings. There has to be a reason, and you cannot fix what is broken unless you know what it is.
Girl Scout Service Unit meeting are meant to educate and inform. You cannot do either unless leaders are actually there.