In a District with a Support Group, the District meeting is a meeting of adult Leaders held at regular intervals. Meetings might be held monthly or quarterly and if quarterly might be helpfully supplemented by virtual meetings (e.g. using Zoom), depending on what is happening in the District. As part of your annual planning cycle it is efficient to set provisional dates for the year in advance. However avoid the temptation to meet for meeting’s sake. If the agenda is short or business could be done efficiently on the phone don’t feel you have to hold a face to face meeting. Alternatively you could use the date which has been set aside for a social gathering or team activity.
In some areas where Districts are very small, only one or two Units and/or share the same meeting place, there may not be the need for frequent District meetings. In these circumstances meetings can be called for specific purposes such as planning District Camps. As an alternative to having a District meeting, Unit Leaders and District Managers might attend the Region meeting or Region workshop or conference.
Assuming support matters are being adequately dealt with by the Support Group, the focus of the District meeting is on Guiding, ensuring the Program is engaging and balanced and that youth members and adult members have opportunities to develop and progress.
What should be the agenda for a District Meeting?
If you have a very small District you may not have a formal agenda for your District meeting but you should still have a clear idea of the purpose of the meeting and what needs to be discussed and agreed. A formal agenda can be very similar to the one set out above for Region meetings. If a standard approach has been used in the past, you will see its format when you pick up the District Meeting file from the previous District Manager. Do not be afraid to change the previous format of the meeting to suit your own preferences, but do discuss possible changes with your Leaders. The headings in a standard agenda can be useful to plan the meeting in advance and make sure important areas aren’t missed. Even if you do not have a formal agenda, it’s important to think through what your goals for the meeting are and how you can make best use of the time available. Always have a clear start and finish time and allocate time to each item. It is good practice to keep a record of the meeting (minutes) and track action items through action items. Good records of meetings become valuable history of activities and work in the District that can be used for handover and for others to learn from.
The agenda or notice of what you want to cover should be circulated a week before the meeting where possible. This notice will inform people of what you intend to cover and give them a chance to prepare or provide any relevant material. It also acts as a reminder for you and provides some structure to, and direction for, the meeting.
Normally the District Manager makes some kind of report including items for discussion from the Support Group and from Region/ State/ GGA initiatives. There might also be reports from the treasurer, Units or ad hoc committees, although most of these can be tabled in advance. It might be that membership is a standard item on the agenda so there is a regular focus on attracting new members, retaining existing members, reviewing the waiting list and planning for Guides progressing from one Unit to another. By having learning and development as a standard agenda item you can make sure everyone is aware of the need to support new Leaders and to be continually learning and sharing new skills, program ideas, resources etc. You might also consider that risk and incidents should be a standard item to encourage everyone to think about these matters and to stimulate discussion on incidents that haven’t been reported on a form. Often there will be practical matters to discuss too – promotional activities, camps and service activities. Other items which might be needed on the Agenda from time to time include for example, biscuit campaign, maintenance of property, monitoring of financial and membership records. Leaders should also have the opportunity to raise matters which are important to them.
The meeting shouldn’t be used to regurgitate information that has already been sent directly to Leaders. If you want to make sure they have read all the relevant information and /or there is additional information to cascade at the meeting, prepare a written summary to circulate at the meeting.
What should be the format for Unit reports?
Most States have a format for Unit reports or maybe a pro forma was developed by the previous District Manager. If there is already a format in use, see it in action at a few District meetings before you decide whether it needs to be changed. You might want to experiment with allowing Units to produce simple reports most of the time but a more comprehensive report annually. You could even change the format on a rotating basis, so every quarter a few Units are in the spotlight and provide more insight into what they are doing. However, you do need to make sure you have adequate information to populate the District Report and meet any State reporting requirements.
If a standard report is not mandatory in your State, be wary of asking your Leaders to prepare comprehensive reports unless they are really needed – no Leader needs an extra administrative burden. Alternatively, you could just ask Unit Leaders to provide a copy of the proposed term program. This process encourages Unit Leaders to plan in advance and share their ideas. Or you could review term plans as a group at the end of term, to discuss what actually happened and lessons learned.
The information contained in a simple Unit report might be: number of girls in unit and goals that the unit is working towards, program highlights, community / service activities, outdoor activities, planned term program, promotion and public relations activities, leadership team (changes, learning and development) and bank balance / cash in hand. All reporting formats should give Leaders the opportunity to highlight problems they are experiencing or to make requests for funds or assistance.
In the past most Unit reports contained information on the number of members, transfers in, transfers out and resignations. That information no longer needs to be included as it can be obtained from the State database. Membership reports can be used to prompt discussion about membership and any need to update entries, to encourage a focus on membership growth and to pick up any instances where a Unit Leader is allowing girls to be in the Unit without being members.
How should reports be used?
Unit reports are valuable in keeping you abreast of what’s happening, helping to plan District events, identifying potential hot spots and sharing new ideas across the District. Unit reports are also necessary to complete District assessment forms. Ideally the reports should be received in advance and circulated with the agenda. Only items of particular interest or concern should be raised from Unit reports – do not encourage Leaders to read out their whole report or go into minute detail about what their Unit has been doing.
Do make time (before the meeting if reports are circulated beforehand or after the meeting if reports are tabled at the meeting) to read these reports and follow up or action any relevant items. Your Leaders will appreciate this and will be more likely to continue submitting reports. Be aware, however, that some Leaders are just not ‘paper’ people—you will need to develop a strategy to cope with this, for example, verbal report or a report filled out at the meeting.
How are decisions taken?
Decisions are usually taken by consensus, but a vote may be taken if a consensus cannot be reached. Where a vote is required then a simple majority decides the result. In the event of a tied vote, the District Manager has a casting vote. Decisions taken by the District Manager on behalf of the District between meetings should be ratified at the next District Meeting.
If there is a District Secretary she will take the minutes, otherwise one of the Leaders can act as minutes’ secretary, perhaps on a rotating basis.
Last Modified: 19/03/21 at 10:00 AM