Membership Management  

This page discusses a type of "management" that is closer to that of a corporate personnel department — decisions based on considerations regarding people's personality types, rather than regarding skills and tasks. The other type of management is covered here.

Moving a Member to a New Team

or, "Bringing the Power of our Division's Core Attributes
to the Truth about Membership Structure Decisions"

Prerequisites: Enfranchise Each Level and the governmental principle of Checks and Balances.

(Insert background about a 3-level hierarchical organization and the situation of deciding where to put a member when reorganizing the structure)

(Insert background on "checks and balances", giving example from constitutional law, and propose it as a solution to the situation in question)

Why is a system of checks and balances the right way to deal with this situation? Because, all three levels have power on the other two. Each of the levels exerts its power by either giving or withholding its support.

I have seen countless examples of individuals not supporting their team or their division or both, of teams failing to support individual members, of teams not supporting the division, of divisions failing to support their individual members, and even of divisions not supporting the well-being of their teams.

When things work, each does support the other two, and the commitments to giving such support are part of the culture of our standards and agreements. The individual takes an oath to "step forward" for their team and for their division — and if they fail to do so they can be inspected, and in some cases even encouraged to take a leave of absence. The team leader agrees to further the success of their members, and the Division as a whole — if they fail, they are inspected and brought into line or replaced. The Division leadership sees to the well-being of the teams as well as of the individual members — and in case of failure, they too are inspected or replaced.

By supporting or withholding, each level exerts power over each of the others. Using a system of checks and balances simply acknowledges that power, and respects the fact that the decision affects all three. In order to stave off the downside, a system of checks and balances ensures that the affected parties give their mutual consent up-front.

The decision of what team to move someone to, affects the individual, the team, and the division as a whole. It is common to expect just one leader (a core team member, such as the MM or DC) to make such a decision. Even if they are "nearly perfect" in being honorable in motive and diligent in weighing the issues, they will make a poorer decision when acting alone than they would if soliciting the consent of the other two affected parties.

What about our core values?1

A system of checks and balances has Strength (by involving three people, who are collectively stronger than any of them individually), Fortitude (by seeing to the long-term health of the individual, the team and the division), Connection (keeping the three levels connected to each other by involving all three in the decision process), and Balance (by balancing the power between the levels, or more accurately, by following a policy that implements balanced power in order to acknowledge that in fact, power actually does exist in all three levels).

Here are some things not to do, because they are ways in which the system of checks and balances can be "sold out":

- Giving the individual complete control — for example, by going along with them after they say "Team X is the only team I will consider being a part of".

- Giving the individual no control — by, for example, putting them on team X after they have said "I'll consent to any team but team X". Sadly, this is common: we tell our members "If you don't want X, then X must be where your barriers are — and that is where we are going to put you, so that you will need to overcome your barriers. It is for your own good!" The story of Brer Rabbit is relevant here. It is a story about a dishonorable antagonist, and an underdog who realizes this and takes advantage of it. Not honoring the individual's heartfelt expression is tyrannical behavior, a dishonorable shadow of the King.

- Allowing the leader of the new team to have full control. This would happen if the issue were brought to the team leaders' core team meeting by asking "Who wants Smith?" and giving Smith to whichever leader speaks up first.

- Giving no control to the team leader. This would happen if they are not consulted at all until the decision is made, and any objections squelched.

- Allowing a Division leader, such as DC or MM, to have full control (sadly, this has usually been the case).

- A Division leader having no control at all — such as in the example cited above, if the DC and MM raise the issue at the core team meeting, and then they both sit by, letting the team leaders and/or affected individual decide it without providing any input.

Pragmatics: My recommendation on how to actually implement the decision process, while addressing all six of the "sell out" issues that I just listed:

step 1. The DC or MM believes that a given person needs to be put on a new team.

step 2. The DS1 puts out a call to the team leaders and the affected person, to attend a core team meeting.

step 3. All needed leaders are present at the core team meeting.

step 4. The person to be moved steps out of the room for a while (or they have been told not to arrive until the second hour of the meeting) — during this time the DC or MM receives candid answers from the team leaders as to whether or not each team leader would like that person on their team, and if not, challenged as to "why not?". This stage reveals much truth about the teams and/or their leaders and thus falls solidly under the MM's area of interest.

step 5. The affected team member is brought in and told they are going to be put on another team. They are told they can ask any questions they want to the team leaders, after which they need to give a list of teams they would agree to be on.

step 6. The individual asks questions (like "What is your team like?" or "When and where do you usually meet?") and gets answers. They tell the assembled leaders what their preferences are — 1st choice, 2nd, etc. or conversely, which team they do not want to be on. During this stage they can be challenged as to "Why?" or "Why not?". This stage reveals much truth about the individual and again is in the MM's area of interest — it is a valuable use of time, particularly at this critical stage in the individual's "career path" through the organization.

step 7. The DC or MM renders a decision — either on the spot or after some deliberation — and then announces it to everyone in the division, either directly or through the DS1.

step 8. Within a stipulated period of time, (e.g. two weeks) the affected person begins meeting with the new team, and "completes" (stops meeting) with the old team, not necessarily in that order.

Notice that this process still leaves a lot of power in the traditional place, the DC or MM — they are the only ones who can initiate the process, and they make the ultimate decision. The only way their power has been limited is by reducing their choices through the involvement of the team leaders and the affected team member.


1 : The person originally asking this question was in an organization that had four core values: Strength — Fortitude — Connection — Balance.

2 : This article was originally written for an organization that grouped its "teams" into "divisions" (like a sporting league). The "DC" is the "division coordinator", a middle-level manager in charge of a division, and the MM is the "membership manager", placed alongside the DC on the org chart and specializing in personnel issues. All team leaders send reports to both the DC and the MM.

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