Sunday, October 12, 2008

Training your Officers

from "Hiram's Handbook"
by Bro. Wayne T. Adams
Grand Lodge of Maine

“Yesterday I couldn’t even spell Worshipful Master and today I are one.” This simple statement, regrettably illustrates the dilemma in which many Lodges find themselves when the elected leadership either neglects or fails to expose and train the junior officers in the duties and responsibilities that are required when they arrive in the East. Masonry attracts “I good men from all levels of society, “The high and the low, the rich and the poor

On one hand, the different backgrounds of our membership provide a rich mixture of diverse experiences and opinions. On the other hand, very few, without prior training and orientation, possess the knowledge and experience to be successful in the Oriental Chair. By starkly facing the critical reality that few of us are initially qualified to be Master, we must take the opportunity to begin the long process of preparation, training and orientation required to prepare our officers for leadership.

“I feel like a mushroom! Kept in the dark and fed fertilizer”. This common attitude, which may prevail among your junior officers, is one which you must understand, attack and eliminate. The bottom line is that each Lodge and every member must appreciate the fact that, when entering the line of succession, there is no single person within this jurisdiction who is fully prepared to assume the Oriental Chair.

A good Master trains his junior officers in both leadership and ritual. The often repeated phrase “when you finally learn the job, your year as Master is finished” must be eliminated from usage. The benefits of such training to you and your Lodge are substantial. As in any profession those properly trained perform their tasks at an increased level of competence, resulting in Lodge improvement and member satisfaction. Additionally, seeing help and proper training being given may induce some sideliners to make the transition from the sidelines to the chairs.

Who is responsible? The Grand Lodge is not responsible. Neither is it the responsibility of your District Deputy or the Past Masters . Each Master is fully, totally and completely responsible for insuring that each officer is fully prepared to competently assume the duties and responsibilities of the succeeding chair prior to installation. In simple terms, you do not have the luxury of “spring training”. You and your officers must be in mid-season form from the moment the first ball is thrown.

The following are some helpful hints when instituting an officers’ training program:

  • A. Prepare and distribute the descriptions of the duties and responsibilities of each position to each officer. Set deadlines for each officer to be proficient in the skills required.
  • B. Hold frequent officers’ meetings and communicate the methods and rationale behind all your decisions and actions and request their input.
  • C. Utilize a “Big Brother” or “Mentor” approach by delegating to each officer the responsibility of training next year’s officer the duties of his position.
  • D. Require each officer, committee chairman, the Treasurer and the Secretary to explain the function of his position and the manner in which he executes his responsibilities.
  • E. Allow each junior officer to actually perform the duties of the next chair when qualified.
  • F. Obtain, distribute and discuss the many instructional materials available through the Grand Lodge and use your officers to attend the training classes held by both the Leadership Academy and the Masonic Education Committee.
  • G. Organize a visit to the Grand Lodge office for your officers and members. If within a reasonable distance spend the day not only to view the beautiful temple but to learn of the extensive resources that are available to you, your officers and the Lodge. If you come from a great distance use your time at the Annual Communications for this educational experience. The staff is friendly, courteous and ever willing to assist you in every manner possible.
  • H. Prepare your officers for the next position not only in ritual, but in the other responsibilities at least by July.
  • I. Communicate your officers training program to the membership. A member who may otherwise be reluctant to assume a leadership position may step forward because he now realizes that a program to improve his skills is available and that he is not alone as he assumes greater responsibilities. Always remember those important principles that we have previously discussed. Plan, organize, communicate, delegate and control are vital when implementing a staff training program.

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