The Office of the Seneschal - Kingdom of Lochac

From the Seneschal

February 2010

A Kingdom Officer wrote this recently:

"I think the hard part with regard to officers is getting people to understand that there is no shame in resigning if you find you can't maintain an office. Holding on to an office that you can't put the work into though is another story."

Different-sized groups have different dynamics. For a College, the struggle is often to find the essential minimum set of officers, get them active, and keep them around for more than a year or so.

A Canton or Shire may have similar problems of scale, but usually has a more stable populace, meaning that officers can hold positions for years -- perhaps via the "move one seat to the left" approach which many of us know.

For larger Shires, Baronies and the Kingdom -- particularly in a time of active recruitment and growth -- we enjoy the luxury of more choice, and should use it. An officer should not hold a role for more than the standard two-year term except in special cases, such as an important and nearly-completed project. Above all, the extension of an officer's term should not happen by default, but only after discussion within the group and with their next-up superior.

Renewal is essential -- not just for an office, but also for the sake of the wider group. Where possible, retiring officers should generally try to step back, rather than take on another role too quickly. By all means be a short-term deputy to your successor, but not to the point you are providing advice on most matters. Have a rest -- or find a role outside the group for a bit -- Kingdom, "Inc", Order, Guild, Deputy etc.

Renewal helps bring newcomers into more active roles and hence helps a group evolve. It lessens the chance that one faction or viewpoint within a group will dominate for any length of time. So long as handovers are done well and institutional knowledge is actively preserved, it increases the chance that the group will have good governance, good buy-in from its wider populace, and more chance of long-term, robust success.

And above all: if you're in an office and you feel you are not filling it well, do a quiet sanity-check with those who depend on you (your Seneschal, your deputies, your next-up superior). And if they don't beg you to stay, then think about advertising the role. It might need someone with more time, different skills or even a different personality. You can be quite sure that the last thing it needs is someone who isn't reliably carrying out the role.

If you're under stress and it is all getting to be too much, making a clear and early move to announce "applications sought" is a positive step for everyone.

Bartholomew Baskin
Lochac Seneschal



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