Discussion: What are our alternatives for managing GROW activities when Trusted Servant positions remain vacant?
This document is a one-person brainstorm. I have not asked anyone to review it. Any additional alternatives are welcomed. Thank you in advance for considering and contributing to the topic.
During this business meeting, half of the proposals presented for decision-making arose because no one volunteered for three Trusted Servant positions (GSR, Secretary, Business Chair). During the April 2022 business meeting, three vacant TS positions were never filled (GSR, OIAA Rep, Webkeeper). The GSR position has been vacant since October 2021. The Webkeeper position has been vacant since October 2020, when Cheryl assumed the duties of both Website Administrator and Webkeeper.
GROW has 18 Trusted Servant positions, representing 6% of our membership as of October 1st. No one knows if this is a trend – whether these vacancies will continue to be a problem in the future. But in this particular business cycle, two important positions have not been filled: Secretary and Business Meeting Chair. The Secretary position is more the ‘public face’ of GROW’s support team and the focal point for issues that arise anytime, not just during business meetings. It is hard to imagine how we will conduct Group Consciences without a Business Meeting Chair.
The proposals presented to this meeting addressed the three current vacancies only. Last April, we discussed recruitment issues and took several actions to attract volunteers: moved from the text of position descriptions to brief paragraphs describing TS jobs in the Secretary’s announcements, dedicating a weekly meeting to the topic of service prior to recruitment efforts, and creating a comparison chart comparing duties, workload, and qualifications for all TS positions. We tried, but we didn’t get the results we hoped for. So, now, what do we do?
I’ve attended many f2f AA groups that did not have a GSR, so I guess it boils down to how important it is to our group to have a representative for this AA function (and for the OIAA Rep, since they serve the same purpose).
Is it time to rethink how we staff GROW’s email meeting?
In April, we discussed job-sharing. After studying the idea, our Listkeepers and Greeters concluded that few positions would really benefit from job-sharing. It may be time to revisit that question. But job-sharing would require more, not fewer, volunteers.
Another approach might be to eliminate some Trusted Servant positions and transfer duties to other positions, seeking to continue current practices with fewer people. (As we said at budget time in the Federal government, getting more “bang for the buck.”)
To take it a step further, we might eliminate Trusted Servant positions and the services the positions were designed to fulfill. We offer a lot of support to our members that might be a luxury in times when we can’t get volunteers. Potential positions to eliminate might include those that do not directly support the ongoing email meeting:
- 12th Step Volunteer Listkeeper
- Sponsor Listkeeper
- Temporary Mentor
- Birthday Listkeeper
- GSR (only because it appears no one wants to do it)
To take it even further, I’m wondering if the way we’ve done business in the past is written in stone. Do we really need to have business meetings twice a year? Do we need business meetings at all? Has our business meeting process gotten too burdensome for participants? Is chairing the business meeting too much to ask of any individual? Without sincerely committed Trusted Servants, can we really expect to cover duties attached to positions that don’t get filled?
I’m asking you to think about this and to participate in a discussion of our options. As a starting point, I list some possible options below. I sincerely hope that the participants in this meeting have more and better ideas.
Some possible alternatives to the way we handle long-term Trusted Servant vacancies:
- Establish job-sharing and allow current TSs to perform in more than one position.
- Dispense with the concept of rotation and allow TSs to serve in the same position in consecutive terms (this is being done this term with little discussion).
- Revisit the terms of office for all TS positions and shorten the terms to make them more attractive to potential volunteers.
- Identify critical duties for a vacant position and distribute them to TS positions that are not vacant, continuing to recruit for people to fill the vacant position and assuming that a current TS will volunteer to take on additional duties not related to their job.
- Assign critical duties for vacant positions to other TSs without waiting for current TSs to volunteer to take them on. Reassign duties to positions that are in related in some way to the duties not being done. Continue to recruit for the vacant position.
- Delay recruiting for positions that do not directly support the ongoing email meeting until all other TS positions have been filled. Recruit for these ‘service positions’ only when the email meeting is fully staffed.
- Determine whether a TS position is critical to the ongoing email meeting, regardless of its value in helping alcoholic women who are struggling. If not critical to the meeting, eliminate the service it provides until the position can be filled. Continue to recruit for the vacant position.
- Determine whether a TS position is critical to the ongoing email meeting, regardless of its value in helping alcoholic women who are struggling. If not critical to the ongoing meeting, eliminate the position and discontinue the service it provides. Stop recruiting for the vacant position.
- Assess the relative contribution of every Trusted Servant position in supporting our ongoing email meeting and recruit for positions in the order of their contribution to the functioning of the email meeting. Recruit for the most critical positions before opening any other position to volunteers.
- Discontinue our Business Meetings but keep the grow-business mailing list permanently. When issues arise that need action, have the Steering Committee address them using the business mailing list to communicate. Figure out how to do a group conscience on an as-needed basis.