|Re: Responsibilities vs. Hours||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Heimann (heimanntheworld.com)|
|Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2016 08:10:45 -0800 (PST)|
Hello,We at Jamaica Plain Cohousing had an interesting story in how we arrived at our present work policy. We have a three-part work obligation: attending general meetings, working on at least one committee, and doing four hours of work per month. For the work hours, people needed to report each month the tasks and the hours of work they did. One person (me) kept track of the data and reported it to the community.
After a few years people began complaining that the whole endeavor felt onerous, heavy-handed, and untrustful. However, others wanted things to be fair and accountable. After considerable discussion in and out of general meetings, we came to the conclusion that we could have fairness or lightness, but not both. Significantly, we consensed on the choice of lightness, surrenduring fairness. We now have a list of tasks that need to be done, and there are people who have stepped forward to do them. If someone finds a task not done or insufficiently done, they can go to the person identified with the task or to our Community Life committee (techncially we have a "Go To" team whom such a complaint would go to, but it's currently inactive). They could also do the work themselves, but in that case they have no right to complain about unfairness (this happened under the report and accountability system).
This has worked out very well. There have been few or no formal complaints about lack of work or lack of quality. Generally criticisms get taken care of informally, with the general community not hearing of them.
It is strange that we surrendered fairness in doing work, which was intially a significant community value, but there it is!
Regards, David Heimann Jamaica Plain Cohousing
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2016 19:41:18 +0000 From: Beverly Jones Redekop <beverly.jones.redekop [at] gmail.com> To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org> Subject: [C-L]_ Responsibilities vs. Hours Message-ID: <CAEAcb0GrEbBaNvqecnNo8X6dS=1MxQ4wL1rQt6myhjAEdtbDcw [at] mail.gmail.com> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8 I don't want to hijack the veteran thread, so I am bringing Sharon's post here. I am fascinated that you are a "long time advocate of requiring and reporting a minimum amount of hours," as I am that type of advocate and this makes me imagine having my need for fairness and organization met without us finally organizing our work hours. Is there a list of community members and their responsibilities, or do people just know? We have 40 children and 63 adults. Where do you keep the list? ----------- There is much in the archives on this frequently discussed topic. As one who has spent much time on policies, schedules, task identification, etc., and been a long time advocate of requiring and reporting a minimum amount of hours, I now think the following practices encourage self-organization. Most are working well at Takoma Village. 1. Thinking in terms of assuming responsibility, not hours. Define discrete tasks and ask people to take responsibility for them. For example: if one person takes responsibility for checking light bulbs in public areas, and ordering, changing, and recycling bulbs means no one else has to be concerned about burned out or nonworking lights. Other tasks include overseeing specific rooms cleaning, keeping order, getting things repaired. ? laundry room, office, kids room, etc. Whether one task takes 2 hours a month and another 1 or 6, the real benefit is that the job is done or listen to harangues about it not being done. 2. Workdays. We have about 6 workdays a year plus 2 half days for the gardens and landscaping. When we started these it was wonderful. One person collects a list of all kinds of tasks that need doing ? jobs that need more than one person, special tasks like washing the wall on the stairs, cleaning out a storage closet, cleaning and organizing kitchen cabinets and supplies. Fix door knob on the office door. It?s usually a long list of small jobs. Sometimes a large task requires more than one person like weeding along the block long fence or installing a path. These often require a supervisor/instructor. Include socializing activities. Early coffee and bagels, lunch. One community has half days every month combined with a pot luck cook off ? chili, pesto, salads, etc. The half day allows people to hang out after the lunch. 3. Stress self-organization along with the expectation that everyone participate in maintaining the facilities. Invite the invisible to participate with a group or a friend. I?ve been amazed at how incapable many people feel. They need to be personally invited. 4. Allow people to choose responsibilities and keep them unless there are serious problems with performance. People need to feel ownership and mastery in their responsibility. And no one wants to train new people all the time or feel anxious about whether a new person will do it well. Our ?Goddess of Light? did the job with her son for 10 years. No one else even had to think about lights. 5. Discuss the work required when purchasing new equipment or starting new activities. This raises consciousness of work as an element in planning and budgeting. If we add more garden space do people have time for maintenance? Who will do the staining of the new wooden fort? What kind of maintenance will be required to take care of a larger gas grill ? ensure it is working accurately, cover replaced, returned to its storage space. It took a long time to get the place where we don?t have to worry so much about things being done. Part of that is the maturity of the community and better orientation for new members, and partly it is the experienced members who have learned to organize and lead. in the beginning we could define jobs very well because we didn?t have a clue what many of them were. And over time we have established standards for care and use of the facilities that are respected. It?s not a good idea to try to be too rigid or controlling in people?s homes, which includes common spaces. Define tasks and expect people to find their way to them. Don?t try to get consensus for the task definitions. That becomes a oath to on everyone?s part to do the work. Any member or team can add to our list of tasks. If no one thinks it needs to be done, it isn?t. Sharon ---- Sharon Villines Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC http://www.takomavillage.org ???
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