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Parliamentary Procedure Blog

You’re Not Connecting—You’re Fired!

Those were the words I heard!  Shocked, dismayed, in a state of disbelief…what should I do?  What would you do?
 
I’ve been a professional speaker, trainer and motivator for better than 16 years.  I heard those words.  “You’re not connecting with your audience…like the other trainers”…what should I do?  Did I have a choice, especially, since I was the designated “lead trainer.”
 
All types of thoughts ran through my mind.  What was the problem?  We had met with the decision makers the night before.  We had completely discussed what was going to be covered during the day of training…specifically the guidelines that were going to be followed and the material that was going to be covered.  We had a list of every objective they wanted to be covered and we had answered all of their questions.   We were ready to conduct the training.  I was charged up and ready for a highly interactive, challenging and rewarding day of training—after all, I have been doing it for better than 16 years.
 
The day of training began.  My audience was engaged, involved and participating quite well.  We were on schedule to complete all of the objectives and I was pleased as we went to our first break.   During the break, I got called to the side and was told quietly discreetly, you’re not connecting with the audience…you’re fired.  What was I to do….what could I do…what was the problem…where was the disconnect?   I had crossed all of my “T’s”, had dotted all of my “I’s” and there still was a problem.   What would you do?  This was a challenge to my self-worth, my self-value, my self-esteem.
 
I thought for a minute.  I thought about all of the things that I have been teaching for a number of years and now I had to put them into practice.  There is a quote that clearly describes the situation and the action that I should take…”who you are speaks so loudly that people can’t hear what you say.”  I recognized that it is never about me, it is always about the audience!  How is the audience receiving my message and I am connecting?  They had hired my team and the team results were the most important thing.  Satisfying our clients was paramount.  The second thing was a challenge to my self-worth, and self-value--my self-esteem. If you have limiting doubts about your self-worth or self-value, it’s reflected in your behavior—what you do and how you’re perceived.  I know I’m good at what I do…my results over the years have proven how good I am.  Yet, there was one person—the final decision maker—who was not pleased.  What would you do?
 
Again, it is never about me, it is always about the audience, the client, the customer and satisfying their needs.  I controlled my emotions, talked with the other trainers to ensure that we were going to cover all of the customers' expectations, and scheduled some time with the “actual” decision maker.  
 
The discussion with the “actual” decision maker made me realize what was requested and actually needed were almost completely different.  Also, I realized that while the audience may be engaged, if the decision maker is not engaged, you’re going to have many challenges.  If my self-esteem was not very high, my responses may have been completely different…to my detriment.  Hopefully, my actions speak for who I am.  Do yours?  Have you been tested lately?  How did you respond?  It’s only a matter of time.  Hopefully, you won’t be fired?

The Motion is Perfect…Now

The meeting has progressed through the agenda and now it is the time for new business.  A member rises to make a motion and it is seconded by another member. The chair states, “We have a motion on the floor and states the motion.”  The assembly needs to take care of this item of business.  But wait, is this motion perfect?
 
Before members can vote on a motion, they must be absolutely sure that they know what they are voting for.  If the maker of the motion has carefully crafted it, and there are no questions on the motion, it can be voted upon without any other issues.  If it is not exactly clear what the motion is or what the intended result will be, this must be clarified.  An amendment is the way to clarify or perfect a motion and relevance is the key.  
 
Relevance is the first key to making amendments; the term we use is “germane”.  An amendment is offered with the intent to make the motion better and must have a direct bearing on the subject.  If it is not relevant, or germane, it is not in order.  Also, any amendment is out of order if the intent is to introduce new business or to make the motion unpalatable to the assembly.  If the amendment receives no second, the pending motion stays just as it was. 
 
How might we offer an amendment?  There are two degrees of amendments—a primary and secondary amendment. An amendment of the third degree is not permitted.  A primary amendment applies directly to the pending motion and a secondary amendment applies directly to the pending primary amendment.   With recognition from the chair, one would rise to state the first amendment or the primary amendment.  You cannot interrupt a speaker to do this and it must be seconded.  
 
Let’s use this motion as an example:  “I move to purchase a large fire truck for this city.”
 
There are three basic processes of amendment, the third of which is an indivisible combination of the first two.  
 
  1. Inserting or adding – you might say, "I move to amend the motion by inserting the word green, after “large” and before “fire truck."  It would not be germane in this case to insert, “and order a pizza.” It is important to be very clear about the exact spot where you wish to add a word or words.
  2. Striking out – commonly used, "I move to amend the motion by striking out the words “for this city.”  A motion to strike out words must specify their location when it is not otherwise clear.
  3. Third process: an indivisible combination of processes (1) and (2):
a. Striking out and inserting – to be efficient in the task, say, "I move to amend the motion by striking out “large” and inserting “red.”  This is generally used for words, and the words to be inserted must relate to the words to be struck out, or be germane. The pizza example wouldn't be germane here either.
 
b. Amend by Substitution – you may say, " I move to substitute the following for the motion currently under discussion: ‘I move to purchase two large red fire trucks for the city of Example City,’ " stated clearly in the revised language.  Sometimes it is easier to replace the whole motion than to nitpick each change.  This method is applied only to sentences, paragraphs or the entire motion and simply replaces the words in the motion; it does not adopt the newly revised motion.  
 
As mentioned earlier, the primary amendment can also be amended.  This is called a secondary amendment. This gives a certain complexity to the situation and will be discussed in another article.  
 
No more than one primary amendment and one secondary amendment are  permitted to be pending at a time.  The work of approval of amendments works in reverse order.  The chair handles the secondary amendment first.  If the secondary amendment is not approved, the primary amendment stays the same as was first presented.  If the primary amendment is not approved, the motion stays the same as was first presented. If the primary amendment is approved, the motion is changed and the presiding officer restates that motion in its amended form.
 
The chair must remain in control of the changes to the main motion as the amendments flow.  He/she must know when the amendments are out of order, are germane, and are an actual attempt to perfect the main motion.  Again, if an amendment is approved, the main motion must be restated in its revised form for the assembly to vote.  If the amendment is not approved, the main motion stays the same as originally stated.  
 
Now, it is time for the assembly to vote.  The members, if led through the process calmly and properly, will know the exact verbiage of the motion, changed or not changed.  The motion, now, is as perfect as it can be; it is as clear as we can make it.  The assembly can vote and assert its will on the business before it.  A vote is taken and the chair announces the result of that vote.
 
It is time to move to the next order of business.  The perfection process begins again.
 
The chair states, “We have a motion on the floor…”
 

Manage Your Time and Priorities or They Will Manage You

man 162603 640“My box is full! My team members’ boxes are full. We’ve been stretched to the limit. We can’t do anymore. Where are you from anyway—you just don’t understand!” Those were some of the comments from a recent training trip that I made. The tensions and emotions within the organization were extremely high…almost waiting to explode. All I had said was, “if there is one person in the workplace that should be happy—and you are a manager or supervisor—that person should be you.” It made matters even worse when I said, “you must compensate for your bosses weaknesses.”

What did I mean? Managers and supervisors manage people. Things get done with and through the managerial skills demonstrated by those people. If the manager or supervisor is so busy doing his and others jobs, he/she can’t possibly accomplish the tasks for which they were hired. If I work for you and I have a serious problem, but I’m uncomfortable discussing it with anyone. Who sees that? My work performance begins to decline and I give you the excuse that “we’re all overworked and under paid.” You understand and take no action, because you feel the same way. This attitude becomes contagious because everyone is overworked and underpaid. Productivity and morale continues to decrease because everyone is overworked and underpaid. You don’t see or appreciate the problem, because you also feel overworked and underpaid. You’re known for taking care of your employees and you have their backs. Everyone knows what a great person you are and that management is the reason morale is low and productivity continues to decrease. It’s management’s fault! But who is management? You are! If you’re so busy taking care of your employees by doing their jobs and your job part-time, it definitely is management’s fault—and you are now management.

Speaking of management, how many of you are smarter than your boss? You don’t have to answer that question, but in your area of expertise, you “should be” smarter than your boss. The boss does not have to have or no longer has your level of expertise. He/she is no longer expected to maintain this level of expertise, because he/she has you to look out for them. You give them that extra insight and extra knowledge set that they would not have without you. Don’t jump on the bandwagon when everyone starts belittling a comment or decision made by the boss. There is a quote from Emerson that says, “Who you are speaks so loudly that people can’t hear what you say.” When you have “walked in your bosses shoes,” then you can comment about your boss. This is what I mean when I say, compensate for your bosses weaknesses.

Here are a couple of time-management tips that may help you and your employees overcome that “my box is full” attitude and possibly become more efficient and productive:

  1. Develop a daily To-Do List and put it in writing.
  2. Prioritize your To-Do List based upon which will give you the highest return.
  3. Complete all items on your To-Do List
  4. Decide on a time to make your telephone calls and answer/send your emails.
  5. Schedule quiet time daily for yourself and where you can work undisturbed.
  6. Allow sufficient time for scheduled meetings, deadlines, and events.
  7. Hold others accountable for assigned projects, do not personally redo them.
  8. Ensure all of your meetings have clear agendas and do not run overtime.
  9. Schedule realistically--build more time in your schedule to accomplish the task than required.
  10. Use only one calendar. Select calendar with style and adequate size for workload.

10 Effective Meeting Tips for the Successful Leader

Over the past 10 years, I’ve comprised a list of 10 Tips that are essential for effective meetings. They have helped me ensure that my client's meetings have been extremely effective and productive. I hope you will find they will help ensure your meetings are equally effective and productive.

Perhaps, you’ve just been elected president of a home owners’ association, chairman of the board of directors or the chairman of a major committee within the company, the new executive director for an international company and everyone is looking to you for leadership and guidance. What do you do now? What is the most important thing that you, as the new leader, should concentrate on?

You know that time is of the essence. You want to put your blueprint on the organization and you know that you are expected to do this quickly and efficiently. You also know, as the leader, you are expected to be poised, impartial, sensitive, a good communicator, exercise good judgment, promote an open atmosphere…and to get others to do willingly what you want them to do. Again, how do you do this – what comes first?

After acclimating yourself to the new position, you realize—almost immediately—that meetings are absolutely essential to your success. Let me rephrase that—effective meetings are absolutely essential to your success…and you will be in meeting, after meeting, after meeting. That’s why all leaders should have some basic knowledge of parliamentary procedure. Depending upon how serious you are about taking your careers to the next level, you may consider honing your skills by investing in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th Edition (716 pages), which a very study of parliamentary procedure. If you only want a cursory or quick overview of some of the rules/procedures that you will frequently use, you may only wish to invest in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised In Brief, 11th Edition (197 pages). So how do you become proficient in running effective meetings—through training.

I’m often asked to give my course called “Running Effective Meetings.” I’ve developed a fun, two and one half-hour highly, interactive training course. Participants practice conducting effective and challenging meeting scenarios. After the training, the participants can’t wait to get back to their organizations and practice what they have learned. Learning parliamentary procedures for conducting effective meetings is essential for your success.

 

1. State the purpose:

a. Resolve a conflict

b. Share information

c. Gain understanding

d. Obtain reactions to a problem or situation

2. Select the participants:

a. President/chairman/leader/facilitator

b. Other officers

3. Select the location:

a. Large enough to accommodate participants and audio-visual aids

b. Comfortable and free from distractions and interruptions

c. Equipped with adequate lighting and ventilations

4. Identify and notify the participants of:

a. Meeting date, time, and place (Minimum 48 hours notification)

b. Meeting purpose and desired outcome

c. What information to bring (statistics/reports)

d. What is expected of them at the meeting

e. Special arrangements (meals, beverages, etc.)

5. Prepare Agenda (Order of Business) Minimum of 48 hours advance preparation before the meeting.

6. Prepare script for each meeting. Review the script with other invited meeting participants.

7. Ensure all reports are available and controversial issues discussed in advance of meeting.

a. Do not read copies of reports that are made available to attendees and require no action.

b. Have a plan for addressing controversial issues.

8. Set ground rules on how long debate will be for each item.

a. Limit the times to two (2) that a member may speak.

b. Have timing device available to ensure compliance.

9. Use motion forms to keep track of all actions.

a. Prepare motion form in three copies: (1) Presiding officer, (2) Secretary, and (3) Member

10. Approve the agenda and do not deviate from it!

 

These 10 Tips have helped me run effective meetings for years. The presiding officers that have received my training have been extremely successful—their meetings are the envy of all who observe them. Maybe these 10 Tips will help you as well.

What are your favorite meeting tips?

 

Your Lifeline--the Professional Registered Parliamentarian!

 
The Professional Registered Parliamentarian—my lifeline…you’ve got to be kidding!!
 
  • Are you involved in contentious meetings?  
  • Does the majority of your board members feel ineffective or demonstrate a certain lack of competency while performing their duties?  
  • Is there the possibility of confrontations arising during your meetings because members feel their issues are not being addressed?  
  • During your meetings, do you need a lawyer, a policeman and a parliamentarian to ensure all issues are addressed—calmly, unemotionally, and fairly?  
 
If you belong to a homeowners’ association, a profit or nonprofit organization and you answered yes to any of these questions, the Professional Registered Parliamentarian is your protector--your lifeline to ensuring that all meetings are run effectively and smoothly.  The rights of all members are observed, respected, and issues are resolved expeditiously without incident—even amicably.
 
I just completed the National Association of Parliamentarians’ recertification program for Professional Registered Parliamentarians.  I, now, more than ever, realize what a select group of professionals we have in our organization.  I am so honored and proud to be a member of this professional group, whose purpose is to assist and develop leaders by providing parliamentary expertise and training in meeting management.   We truly want others to succeed and we provide this training with tact and professionalism.   In order to provide this training and expertise, we must also be trained.  Every Professional Registered Parliamentarian is required to be recertified or have their credentials renewed every six years.
 
I recently took part in the new professional renewal process, which meets the needs of today’s Professional Registered Parliamentarian by allowing some flexibility in completing the mandated requirements.    Five modules are required for renewal:  Ethics, Governing Documents, and Writing Parliamentary Opinions, Understanding the Current Edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, and Serving as a Meeting Parliamentarian.  At the time of this writing, two elective modules are required from the following modules:  Doing Business as a Professional Parliamentarian, Research and Writing, Script Writing, Serving as a Presiding Officer, and Teaching Parliamentary Procedure.  I selected Script Writing and Teaching Parliamentary Procedure.  I believe all of the modules are excellent; however, one that is foremost in my mind is the Ethics module.  I think ethics should be foremost in all of our lives.  Strong ethics sets the standard for our conduct; it is the very fiber that determines who we are—our very being, our makeup.  There are four elements of the National Association of Parliamentarians Code of Ethics:  Section 1, “Universal Standards for Parliamentarians, Section 2, Ethical Standards Within the Profession, Section 3, Ethical Standards Relating to Obtaining Appointments, and Section 4, Ethical Standards in Relation to Clients.  The concept of ethics is held as a standard of conduct for all members of the National Association of Parliamentarians.  It defines how we handle ourselves and how we relate to each other and our clients.  Several examples involving the code of ethics immediately come to my mind.
 
I had served as the parliamentarian for this organization for a number of years.  Every year the leadership changed within the organization due to elections and it had been my role over the years to advise the presiding officers of the requirements necessary to conduct business.  I also prepared the scripts for each meeting.  Several controversial issues occurred during that current year and I gave feedback to the presiding officer of how the issues might be handled.  The presiding officer listened and decided to proceed as they had originally decided.  As Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th ed.), page 465, states, “The parliamentarian’s role during a meeting is purely an advisory and consultative one…”  Subsequent to this discussion, another issue arose which involved an interpretation of the organization’s bylaws.   The presiding officer wanted to proceed with an action which was not stated in the bylaws.  The presiding officer had received information from others that even though the action was not clearly stated in the bylaws, the intent was there and besides, other organizations were taking similar actions.  Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th edition, page 588, states, “When the meaning is clear, however, the society , even by a unanimous vote, cannot change the meaning except by amending its bylaws…Again, intent plays no role unless the meaning is unclear or uncertain…”  In other words, if it’s not stated in the bylaws, you can’t take any action.  There was also another issue.  If an organization continually performs an act which conflicts with its bylaws, fundamental principles of parliamentary law, etc.—which are called continual breaches – actions taken are null and void.  Please read Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th ed.), page 251.  The presiding officer decided to proceed with the action.  Section 3.6 and Sections 4.3 and 4.7 from the Code of Ethics defined my subsequent action.  Section 3.6 states:  Decline any appointment in which the parliamentarian is likely to be unduly restricted in the exercise of independent professional judgment.  Section 4.3 states.  Advise the client on the proper application of the accepted rules of parliamentary procedure notwithstanding the client’s personal desires in the matter.  Section 4.7 states:  Call to the attention of the presiding officer any deviation from the rules that may be harmful to the organization.  While I understood the presiding officer’s position, I also understand and follow our code of ethics.  I had no choice, but to resign from the position.   I resigned. 
 
Another of my clients requested a parliamentary opinion on actions that were being taken by the president of the organization.  She thought the actions being taken were inappropriate and violated the bylaws.   I wrote the opinion.  While the actions taken by the presiding officer might be questionable, they did not violate the bylaws.  I know what the client wanted, yet there was no violation of the bylaws.  This was reflected in my opinion.  We talked at length and I helped her to understand what was and was not written in the bylaws.  More than that, we talked about how this issue could be corrected and resolved without embarrassing the president or the organization.  The client was not happy with the opinion, but she wanted to do what was best for the organization…that was to do nothing at that time.   I believe that most of my clients truly want to do what’s best for their organization.  To do what’s best for the organization, you cannot violate the law or your bylaws, regardless of the intent.  That’s why you hire a Professional Registered Parliamentarian. 
 
The Professional Registered Parliamentarian is not an attorney or a policeman, but a professional parliamentary consultant.  He/she has acquired the skills and credentials to give you advice that can actually be used in a court of laws.  This trained parliamentary advisor is definitely your lifeline to success and leadership development in your organization.  He/she will keep you and your organization out of trouble…and in the end, everyone will be truly impressed by your incredible leadership ability and how well your meetings are conducted.
 
 
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