Staff-Board Meeting - 2016-06-23

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Staff Meeting minutes for June 23rd, 2016 at 6:30pm
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Attendance: Adrian, Caelin, Chenessa, Karen, Kris, Mike F, Michael D (scribe), Michele (facilitator), Nigel, Rex, Robert


Contents

Agenda

  1. Plans for 2016 AGM
  2. Marketing and Branding Guidelines
  3. Communication
  4. Training
  5. Phones
  6. Staff's Contract Status

Pre-discussion

Robert: There is a large group of volunteers coming in from Taiwan on July 9th. Some volunteers told me that foreign volunteers would not be allowed to volunteer here because of a recent government policy change.

Michael: That sounds like it would be an issue with visas. Which government agency is it?

Robert: I don't know.

Commit: Michael D will look into foreign volunteers at FG

Robert leaves early

Introduction

Michele: The staff have agreed to have staff-board meetings on a quarterly basis. This meeting's agenda is based off of items that staff gave to me in the past month. I don't expect we'll be able to go over everything in thorough detail. I have a gavel, if we get too out of order or off topic.

Nigel: Can we add items to the agenda?

Michele: Yes.

Nigel: I would like to add item about phones.

Adrian: I would like clarification on one of our staff's contract.

Karen: Robert and I have a collection of the staff's accomplishments in a binder.

Nigel: I would like to see it.

Added to agenda:

5. Phones

6. Staff's Contract Status

Plans for 2016 AGM

Michele: I took over responsibility for last year's AGM, with the help of the rest of the staff. Can someone commit to helping plan it this year? I don't have time to.

Karen: The venue and time is taken care of (September 8th, Wise Hall).

Michele: We need help with keeping to the schedule, the applications, maintaining the wiki, and the mailing lists. Would anyone like to be project lead?

Kris: I can do it.

Michele: Any objections?

None

Adrian: Should we assign a backup?

Michael D will help Kris

Karen: Can we collectively agree to not let people nominate themselves on the night of the meeting? I would prefer if nominations came from others, and ahead of time. I would also like to review the credentials of the applicants ahead of time.

Michael: Are we counting out self-nominations entirely? There are potentially many professionals who would help us, but have no existing connection to FG.

Adrian: Do we have precedent for pre-approving the candidates?

Karen: Should we take in emails from applicants, like prospective employees?

Caelin: I think we should stray away from overcomplicating it. I don't think we should add too many barriers to applying.

Rex: Should we require that a candidate have 2 seconds?

Michele: I think that would set the standard too high.

Adrian: Does the Society act say anything specific about director selection?

Michael: The Society Act is deliberately vague on this matter. As long as the members make informed decision, it's within the law. I don't know of any specific policy we have (unless someone can find one) for selecting directors, other than the voting/AGM section of the bylaws.

Karen: Would it be prudent to let the board members know the expectations (such as quarterly meetings) that we have of them beforehand? Is there some way we can impress upon them our expectations/requirements?

Mike F: If we do online applications, those expectations would be included in the posting.

Chenessa: At other organisations, it's treated like a job posting, with descriptions of expectations, application deadlines, responsibilities, etc. For myself, I was really confused last year when applying to FG.

Rex: We (board 2013) required people to write and sign a deposition that was put on the wiki, and the end result was a split board.

Adrian: We could create a committee to solve this, and put it before the board.

Chenessa: Would this just for this year's AGM, or will it be a new policy?

Michele: I think it's best to be a permanent policy. Any objections to prevent people from self-nominating at meetings?

Rex: That rule could cause problems down the line. E.g.: if we don't have enough people applying, or there's sudden absences.

Michele: OK, but in general, is the basic principle to have people apply in advance only? Have a cut off? Any objections to the idea in principle?

None

Nigel: By law we're only required to have 5 board members. I think we should only elect the 5 positions this year, and then have people apply later for other positions.

Michele: Have there be any concrete ideas on how we will try to recruit?

Michael: There are websites you can recruit from.

Nigel: Like CharityVillage.

Adrian: I see a lot of loose ends in terms of process. How do we want to proceed?

Committee formed between Adrian, Michele

Marketing and Branding Guidelines

Michele: What is realm of operations, and what is in the realm of the board? At a previous board meeting, there was discussion about creating branding guidelines: do we have an ETA on that?

Nigel: I sent out some branding guidelines about t-shirts, but it's not complete. The way I see it is this: You can have branding guidelines that everyone uses, or a marketing department that makes decisions.

Mike F: If we think we need something new, or changed, we should pass it on to you, then? E.g., the brochures Roxana wants to work on. Is that something that would have to go through marketing?

Caelin: We have been in discussion about doing another poster campaign, and putting them in community centres, etc. We need to decide if we're OK with using the same picture from the transit ad. Not everyone on the marketing committee is currently on the same page. I think brochures in particular would be important to go through marketing, since they're publicly visible. We want it to all be consistent. I think internal stuff is less important for us to look over.

Michele: What items can we handle by ourselves?

Nigel: Anything that's inside the building.

Michael: What about build sheets?

Nigel: Up to staff.

Michele: We currently have a website sub-commitee. Does the site need to go through marketing?

Nigel: As long as the branding stays the same, it's up to them.

Michele: We'll be changing layout and content.

Caelin: I could help out on that committee. It would be nice to at least look at the site before it goes public.

Michele: I think the plan is to show it to people before it goes live.

Caelin: I don't know if I want to provide approval per se, but rather just have a chance to provide input.

Karen: I'm looking for an update on the business cards.

Michele: A reminder: we still have 2 boxes of them left.

Nigel: We decided it would be more worthwhile to fix the phone situation before the business cards. We can get regular input from Ashraf on Fridays, so the wait time isn't as long.

Michele: I want some clarification about social media. We agreed that Rebecca would be the one person in charge of Facebook. We're thinking about having a staff blog, and asking whether the staff can do it independently.

Nigel: I have no problem with that.

Karen: If I have an idea about something, who do I contact?

Nigel: It'll have to go through Caelin and I, only. At the moment we have several projects and ideas in the works with Ashraf and don't want to overwhelm her. Should we pay Ashraf? We could give her dinner vouchers.

Mike F: We could give her some decent computer equipment.

Rex: It would have to be something really fast/capable, since she's an artist.

General agreement

Caelin: I don't think we should overwhelm her. She's working on business cards, mascot, and a banner design.

Kris: Do we know how the transit shelters turned out? Do we have any data?

Nigel: Unfortunately, no. All we know is what effect they had on sales.

Communication

Michele: We should be making sure we're better conveying relevant information to the directors, instead of email flood that can easily get mixed up. I've been told by the directors that there since there are so many emails going out from staff, it's hard to keep track of which should be read, whose input is needed, and on what timeframe.

Chenessa: It should be made more clear as to when our input or help is expected.

Nigel: I used to teach email etiquette. I find it's not being properly used here. If someone sends a message to all, think twice before replying to all. The subject line of the email should be related to what you're sending; don't start adding in more topics. On a related note, you should make one point per email.

Karen: I would appreciate if directors didn't reply to payroll threads.

Adrian: I think we all get the general idea, but I can understand that there might be some grey areas. E.g. if there's an email thread on promotional items, and the topic of business cards came from that thread, is that too far removed to include it?

Michael: There's more grey area than stated. There's a danger in responding only to one person, since you're assuming that one person will then later tell the rest of the staff the answer or the discussion. I've witnessed many situations where one person thought everyone else knew something, or another person found out they were the only one who wasn't informed.

Adrian: I agree, and drawing that line can by fuzzy. I hear, on a constant basis, “Oh I didn't know that.”

Chenessa: For the way that we think about it, there's no hard and fast rule. We could, however, exercise common sense, like not replying-all to threads about sick leave. A good practice is to email directly the people you're expecting a response from, and CC the relevant lists.

Karen: I was told it was better not to send out a blanket question to the staff, and that in-person meetings were better.

Michael: It depends on what it is. Since staff don't have a boss who will disseminate information, it can be good to put it into an email (like a report) to let everyone (especially those not at the meeting) know what's going on. In-person meetings are good when you're trying to establish who should be responsible for what.

Adrian: So, as staff, can we agree to send directly to the people we expect answers from, and only CC the lists?

Michele: I would also like to add that if we have an actionable item that arises out of a discussion, it should be put in a separate thread with its own title.

Rex: I also suggest adding the words “Action Item” to the title.

General agreement

Michele: If the staff want a decision from the directors soon, what should they do?

Nigel: Call, or send it directly to the directors list.

Chenessa: Put “Urgent” in the subject line, and give us a deadline.

Phones

Nigel: I have talked to Ring Central, Telus, and Shaw. Ring Central is VOIP only. Telus uses Ring Central as their backend. I'm not sure about Shaw. The big problem we have is our interface, Asterisk, which can't easily be managed from the outside. My proposal is to remove the asterisk server, and get an outside service provider.

Adrian: I agree, if it works and it's reasonably priced.

Nigel: What is the cost of phones currently?

Adrian: It's on a per-call basis, but it's low, so it's less than $10 a month ($7 is above average).

Nigel: Shaw is the most expensive ($4800; they will upgrade our internet too), Telus is next cheapest ($4600), Ring Central is cheapest ($4500).

Mike F: What are we paying for internet now?

Kris: What kind of modem would they switch to?

Nigel: I don't know. The set up with Ring Central is free. The phone calls could be redirected to other phones (i.e. personal cell phones), if needed. The additional cost to FG would be $3k a year.

Michael: In the event of a power outage, I would rather have a direct phone line, and not just VOIP.

Kris: Coming back from 14 years of BC Hydro, I think we should just use UPSs. Cell towers have backups for about 6 hours, so our cells should work in the meantime. I really think we should get UPSs.

Adrian: With Ring Central, is there any additional hardware we need?

Nigel: No.

Michael: I would like to add as an addendum that it would be very worthwhile to invest in some good phones.

Karen: We've had problems in the past where the internet going down, causing the phones to go down, and I don't want that to be an issue.

Nigel: Ring Central has a 30 day trial as an option.

Consensus to change to external service

Adrian: We can afford this, correct?

Nigel: It's $3000 extra per year, or about a day of sales.

Nigel will work with Adrian and Kris to close the deal and do the setup before the end of June

Training

Michele: The staff have general budgetary questions about training. Is there space in the budget for non-violent communication or crisis management training?

Chenessa: I was looking into that. I would like to be able to provide you with conflict management training. It would be very useful, as it's a requirement of the job to deal with potentially violent or confrontational people. I'll put forth a proposal for a budget, and have the board approve it, then send it to staff.

Adrian: What about other training types? Like social media, or non-profit oriented?

Chenessa: The first priority is to provide training for aspects that are job expectations. Those other training types are secondary, so it would depend on whether there's room in the budget.

Staff's Contract Status

Nigel: We haven't come to a decision yet.

Michele: I can go through the sales log to find any relevant data that might help the decision.

Meeting adjourned at 8:40: remaining topic not finished

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