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A Proposed Communications program for PEO (draft to Task Force of Professional Srtandards Committee.)

The Purpose of Communication.

We are a self-governing association of 70,000 members. Whilst there are obviously different levels of involvement there should be the means for all members to find out most of the things about the association and the operation of the association if they wish to do so. There should be ways that members can both get involved, and feel involved in the association affairs.

How are we doing?

There are multiple indications that we are not doing too well.

- Letters to the Editor of Dimensions seem to be about 90% complaints.
- Postings on the Forum contain complaints against both PEO and PEO operations
- Chapters regularly berate Council and Staff about multiple issues.
- Committees now have confusing multiple mandates and terms of reference.
- Committee members feel that they are badly treated by Council, and possibly by some staff.
- Council by a large majority does not understand the committee system, does not know what committees are supposed to do and does not know what to do with committee reports when it receives them.
- Councilors do NOT take the time to familiarize themselves with work that committees are doing.
- Many Councilors do not even take the time needed to read the briefing packages which are prepared for Council.
- Some Councilors share with other volunteers the feeling that their effors are not valued and respected.

Can we improve?

I hope so. One negative comment or one person being negative can multiply that effect by 100 times. At least this is the belief of one of Canada’s top 5 banks where the President spends at least a morning a week reading and signing correspondence back to people who have complained. The profession has more than enough external challenges without allowing internal ones to fester.

Is there a will to improve?

If we hear all the comments then, yes, everyone will be delighted if things get better. In reality for some of the complaints remedies already exist. There is significant information available and there are procedures that could improve things if they were followed. There are however many engineers who are not self-starters who will likely never get round to understanding the profession and there are those who have only bought the initials. Putting numbers on the various categories would not necessarily be productive as it becomes a distortion immediately the question is asked. Without spending years and thousands of dollars studying percentages we should take steps to improve communication even if it is only for a relatively small number of members. It will also be for the Profession.

How can we improve?

Key to member involvement is timely and easy availability of meaningful information.

The next key point is a feedback mechanism so that members can give input.

We have electronic communication and even members in their seventies and beyond can now use the internet. No one should be left behind, but if they are, it is because they have failed in their duty of competence to keep themselves abreast of the times. We are committed to the ‘Net for our communications.

PEO has hardware problems. There have been committees in the past who looked at hardware requirements but we seem to have major ongoing problems. The four year old extranet system has never worked and a new one is being purchased. I do hope that it now has the proper facilities and configuration. It should have been brought before a Communication Committee before being purchased so that Council know more about it than just the price.  The present requirements should be confirmed by Council if it is not already too late.

There needs to be some improvement in the minutes of some committees and task forces. The fact that we discussed several options is an inadequate record of a meeting. Minutes need to be done within days of a meeting, not within days prior to the next meeting. All members should be encouraged to submit points that they want in the minutes, if we still have the staff person just remembering what he can of the melee and for some reason we don’t have a recording.

Major buy-in will be needed by each and every committee, every staff person and not least, Council. I assume that if Council mandate a communications program, then the Registrar will also buy-in.

Next steps.

  • Believe the anecdotal need for better communications or spend yet another $100,000 investigating it and waste another couple of years.
  • Confirm the recent or next equipment purchase will actually do the job.
  • Develop the system of members signing up to receive information on selected committees and task forces. Develop a method of receiving and addressing and or including feed-back.
  • Establish timelines for minutes, etc.
  • Educate staff and committee members on drawing up meaningful minutes.
  • Develop a communications program to advise the members of what is available.
  • Establish a budget for the above and get Council approval.
  • Set timelines (in same Council package)
  • Allocate resources and staff to implement (possibly in advance of approval.)
  • Reestablish a Communications Committee to oversee the process.

Scope of Program.

Hardware analysis
Hardware purchasing
Presentation to Council
Presentation to Committee chairs
Presentation to Staff Support
Set up protocols
Announce to membership
Add members to additional level of group membership
Tweak as necessary

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