Re:Hiring from Within
From: TomMOENCH (
Date: Sun, 6 Apr 1997 11:05:04 -0500
Merlin Porter-Borden writes<Our group has two partners doing professional
work. . . It works
because they both are VERY diligent in taking direction from the group &
they insist upon group decisions. They are strong believers in group
process, and clearly see the creation of community through that work. I
KNOW that they want to tell the group what they should do, but they
NEVER do. They have created trust, and continue to nurture that trust.>

I want to put some caveats on MP-B comments. We at Winslow are probably one
of the few groups to hire from within and without. We hired a member from
within for an architect because of her vision and the enthusiasm. And she
worked less expensively. We learned that this person just did not have
sufficient experience and expertise to handle such a complex job as designing
multi-family housing. It became clear that our project was not going to be
built if we continued with her. Breaking the contract came to the tune of
$37,000. We lost members who took sides. We then hired an outside, name
architect who saved our collective tushies. He stepped back and looked at our
project with a professional's eye. One of the first things he did was tell us
what we should do differently to better create cohousing. He was right. We
followed the advice and started over nearly from scratch.

Lessons Learned:
1) If you hire from within, make sure they have the experience and are good
with group process. Do not hire them as an effort to save money.
2) If they work out, great! If they don't it will be an expensive lesson as
much in money as community emotions.
3) Hired members are at a personal disadvantage in getting their individual
say into the process because it may often conflict with their roles as
service providers. To serve well as service provider's they should give up
their individual desires for the project. Remember, one reason you hire
outsiders is to give a detached professional opinion.
4) Harry Truman once said, "You have to listen to the experts even if you
don't do what they say." Outside professionals play an invaluable role in
that they do, at times, need to counsel and advise their clients i.e., tell
them what they should do. Of course, it is the group's decision to go with
the advice or not. MP-B's statement  "I KNOW that they want to tell the group
what they should do, but they
NEVER do. They have created trust, and continue to nurture that trust." makes
me cringe. The trust they have created is between future members and
neighbors. What is missing is trust in a professional to speak their
professional mind and challenge the client, ESPECIALLY a development group
that can easily get lost in so many diverse opinions and desires.

Client be wary.  Good luck. I hope all goes well as it has in several places
with hired from within professionals.


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