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SECTION 1 - THE HIRAM'S HANDBOOK
“I now declare the officers of Boaz Lodge No. 59, duly installed”. The words from the installation ceremony still ring in your ears. You have been told that the honor, reputation and usefulness of your Lodge depend in your ability to manage its concerns. Are you prepared? In future years, will your picture hanging in the anteroom call to mind the work of a leader or the memory of an incompetent care taker?
You have this one opportunity to leave an example for others to follow. The choice is yours. Keep in mind that your Lodge is not governed by a textbook: only the Master possesses such authority and that person is you. Make each moment count and everyone around you a success. This is your year. How will it be remembered?
Organizations, large and small, government and private, fraternal and corporate, successfully operate only by paying strict attention to the needs, aspirations and concerns of people. Successful organizations, either fraternal or private, can trace their success directly to the amount of concern that they exhibit for the people they serve.
When was the last time you returned to a restaurant that provided poor service, or served you a substandard meal for the high price you paid? When did you return to a store that exhibited a lack of concern for your business or sold you an inferior product? The same holds true for your Lodge. The amount of attention you pay to “customer service” for your membership, their families and the community will dictate the success or failure of your term.
* Are your refreshments and meals well prepared, attractive and served promptly?
* Is your Lodge clean and orderly and reflective of the beauty which our ritual dictates?
* Is every Brother and his family greeted in a manner which reflects the brotherly love of our fraternity?
* Are you and your Lodge fulfilling the needs and aspirations of every member?
If the answer is no, then you are not providing that important “Customer Service” aspect of every successful organization - You are now the proprietor of a long established business. Think for a moment - what services can you and your Lodge provide to attract present and future customers back into your store?
We often forget that people make organizations. It is not the required paperwork, the beautiful ritual, the fancy organizational charts, or elaborate trestle boards. The management principles in this chapter will assist you in administering your Lodge by properly managing people.
There is only one Master to a Lodge, only one authority and only one leader. The Constitution and regulations of the Grand Lodge of Maine expressly delegate full authority to the Master to govern the Lodge in accordance with those laws. In plain terms, my Brother, you are the boss, the leader and the manager. BUT WAIT!
Our Constitution and Regulations, our customs and usages create a tension is our leadership structure. By Masonic law and custom we grant the Presiding Master unusual authority and great deference. The wise Master does not let that go to his head. He knows that he cannot use his gavel arbitrarily, but must constantly work to inspire and encourage his team, to unite them in a common goal, and to help them achieve that goal.
Leadership exists in every Lodge. In some cases the leadership is exercised by the Master. In other cases, regrettably, leadership is not exercised, and the Master stands back allowing others, such as Past Masters or Secretaries, to wield an unseen gavel. In successful Lodges the Master takes charge. In unsuccessful Lodges the vacuum is filled by others. How will it be during your year? Will you be in charge or will you sit regally in the East, wield a hollow gavel and allow others to assume the legitimate authority you have abandoned? The emblem of power is in your hands. Wield it with discretion, courtesy and above all, brotherly love.
Never forget that the opportunity to lead the Brethren of your Lodge and to manage its affairs has been given to you. How well you take advantage of this opportunity will determine the success or failure of your year in the East. There is no excuse for allowing a leadership vacuum to occur.
Harry S. Truman, Past Grand Master of Missouri, proudly displayed a sign on his desk in the Oval Office which succinctly described the term Responsibility. It read ‘THE BUCK STOPS HERE”. That world-famous sign, in symbolic form, is forever displayed to all the brethren, silently resting upon the Master’s podium, in front of the Oriental Chair. You cannot escape it; it cannot be thrown away; it cannot be destroyed, or placed into another Brother’s hands. No matter how hard you may try to avoid it, “THE BUCK STOPS HERE” is that proverbial shadow which will never fade away. It is yours and your alone.
Everyone will take credit for increased membership, excellent ritual, a beautiful Lodge and good participation by the membership at all functions. Few will share responsibility for failure. You, as Master, will not be able to escape the responsibility for what occurs during your year. The Brethren know this. They long to hear a Master say:
“I wish to thank the brethren for the confidence they have reposed in me. The authority of the Oriental Chair is now in my hands for this Masonic year. I assume total responsibility for the leadership and management of this Lodge. I will give credit to everyone for the things that go well, and I will carry the burden of blame for that which does not go well. My Brethren, I know that, ‘THE BUCK STOPS HERE’.”
......to set the craft at work with proper instruction.
How many times have you heard this essential duty of the Master proclaimed at the opening and closing of each meeting? They are not just empty words required by ritual. They describe a leadership function essential to the success of your Lodge.
No man can accomplish every task that is required to build a vibrant and progressive Lodge. Team Building is the process in which you, as Master, assemble, mold and direct a group of participants to labor on differing tasks toward a common and well defined goal.
Your Lodge officers and membership are your team. Many are at home on inactive reserve status. Some are the “active reserves” sitting on the sidelines waiting and wanting to become involved. Others are the officers, your “first string”, who are in the trenches on a daily basis. The successful team utilizes each category of participant to the fullest extent. The unsuccessful team, no matter how skilled the quarterback, neglects the full roster and thereby suffers the consequences. Review your team, list the jobs that are required and personally ask your members to complete just one assignment. Then set them “work with proper instructions” and let them pursue their labors.
Each player, every sideliner and even your inactive reserve must be thoroughly educated in what needs to be accomplished (crossing the goal line); how it is going to be accomplished (the play); and who is going to do the work (who blocks and carries the ball). For the play to be successful, each of the participants must know the goal, provide input on how to achieve the goal and know the duties and responsibilities of each team member.
As the quarterback, you may be scoring a multitude of touchdowns, but never forget the example of Joe Montana. Symbolically take your linemen to dinner and show your appreciation for their efforts. Their picture may never appear on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED but they will be pleased with your success and be ever ready to contribute more.
Delegation of authority and responsibility to accomplish limited tasks is the management principle which assures that all tasks, large and small, are accomplished according to plan. As Master of the Lodge, you must utilize, to the fullest extent, the manpower resources that are available to you: the inactive reserve, the sideliners and the first string.
“Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you” is that perfect timeless pirase that best describes the principle of Delegation. Ask a Brother to do a task; give him the necessary authority and resources to carry out his mission, make him responsible for its success and check with him frequently to insure that he is on the proper track. If he is proceeding according to plan, leave him alone. If he is not accomplishing the task, provide him with some assistance or find another person to carry the ball.
Here are some essential elements to remember when you delegate authority and responsibility to complete a task:
A. You can delegate authority but, you, as Master, are responsible for the final product. You can’t point the finger and say “but I asked him to do it”. The brethren on the sidelines will simply shake their heads. They know who is responsible and who didn’t tend to detail.
B. KISS “keep it short and simple” - Explain in simple terms what needs to be done. You might offer some helpful ideas, but respect their ability do the job. People resent being given a task and then being told exactly how to do it. Very soon they think, “If he wants to do this his way, he can do it”.
C. Discuss the project with those assigned to determine what manpower, materials and money are required to adequately complete the task. Each assignment requires resources. Some jobs cannot be completed without adequate tools. So make an agreement; provide the proper tools and set them to work.
D. Set realistic time limits for each phase of the assignment. You can’t expect major duties to be completed yesterday and you cannot allow the job to extend indefinitely. Remember that work expands to fill the available time. So be reasonable, yet firm, with the amount of time you allocate to a specific assignment. Human nature requires deadlines. Otherwise procrastination will leave you with last minute difficulties and possibly failure.
B. Check back often with those who have been delegated the task to ascertain their progress and/or problems that have been encountered. If you wait until the last day, you risk being caught short without enough time to complete the job properly.
F. Give public praise and recognition to all who have successfully completed their assignments, no matter how small the task. Everyone likes to be recognized for his contributions. Those who have received suitable recognition will soon volunteer again, and those who witnessed the praise being given will want a piece of the action. Remember, honey, not vinegar, will attract the worker bees.
As Master of your Lodge you will develop goals and objectives, formulate plans for their execution and delegate to others. However, controlling these efforts is mandatory to insure successful completion. Your delegated staff is like an unbridled team of horses pulling a wagon loaded with valuable cargo. If the entire project is left only to those pulling the wagon, your cargo (goals) may arrive at a different destination, at a later date or it may have never left the barn and the horses are still standing there eating their oats. Every project requires a leader (the Master) to handle the reins, to spur them on, to turn them either left or right and to stop them when necessary. The Master must continually make a determination as to whether the horses are strong enough and in sufficient numbers to pull the required weight. Additionally, when trouble arises, he must know when to dismount, put his shoulder to the wheel and help push the cart over a steep hill.
Every project requires the leader to expend his prestige and authority, when necessary, to keep the cart on path and on time. The reins are in your hands. Use them only when necessary. If your project has had trouble getting started or is wandering off track, gently take up the slack and guide them back on the road. Never jerk harshly or use your whip, for your team may become frustrated and stop in their tracks. Issuing proper instruction at the beginning and regularly following up by either personal contact or by telephone is usually all that is required to control your team and to determine if you have the right horses and that they are strong enough for the load.
“Yesterday I couldn’t even spell Worshipful Master and today I are one.” This simple statement, regrettably illustrates the dilemma in which many Lodges find themselves when the elected leadership either neglects or fails to expose and train the junior officers in the duties and responsibilities that are required when they arrive in the East. Masonry attracts “I good men from all levels of society, “The high and the low, the rich and the poor
On one hand, the different backgrounds of our membership provide a rich mixture of diverse experiences and opinions. On the other hand, very few, without prior training and orientation, possess the knowledge and experience to be successful in the Oriental Chair. By starkly facing the critical reality that few of us are initially qualified to be Master, we must take the opportunity to begin the long process of preparation, training and orientation required to prepare our officers for leadership.
“I feel like a mushroom! Kept in the dark and fed fertilizer”. This common attitude, which may prevail among your junior officers, is one which you must understand, attack and eliminate. The bottom line is that each Lodge and every member must appreciate the fact that, when entering the line of succession, there is no single person within this jurisdiction who is fully prepared to assume the Oriental Chair.
A good Master trains his junior officers in both leadership and ritual. The often repeated phrase “when you finally learn the job, your year as Master is finished” must be eliminated from usage. The benefits of such training to you and your Lodge are substantial. As in any profession those properly trained perform their tasks at an increased level of competence, resulting in Lodge improvement and member satisfaction. Additionally, seeing help and proper training being given may induce some sideliners to make the transition from the sidelines to the chairs.
Who is responsible? The Grand Lodge is not responsible. Neither is it the responsibility of your District Deputy or the Past Masters . Each Master is fully, totally and completely responsible for insuring that each officer is fully prepared to competently assume the duties and responsibilities of the succeeding chair prior to installation. In simple terms, you do not have the luxury of “spring training”. You and your officers must be in mid-season form from the moment the first ball is thrown.
The following are some helpful hints when instituting an officers’ training program:
A. Prepare and distribute the descriptions of the duties and responsibilities of each position to each officer. Set deadlines for each officer to be proficient in the skills required.
B. Hold frequent officers’ meetings and communicate the methods and rationale behind all your decisions and actions and request their input.
C. Utilize a “Big Brother” or “Mentor” approach by delegating to each officer the responsibility of training next year’s officer the duties of his position.
D. Require each officer, committee chairman, the Treasurer and the Secretary to explain the function of his position and the manner in which he executes his responsibilities.
E. Allow each junior officer to actually perform the duties of the next chair when qualified.
F. Obtain, distribute and discuss the many instructional materials available through the Grand Lodge and use your officers to attend the training classes held by both the Leadership Academy and the Masonic Education Committee.
G. Organize a visit to the Grand Lodge office for your officers and members. If within a reasonable distance spend the day not only to view the beautiful temple but to learn of the extensive resources that are available to you, your officers and the Lodge. If you come from a great distance use your time at the Annual Communications for this educational experience. The staff is friendly, courteous and ever willing to assist you in every manner possible.
H. Prepare your officers for the next position not only in ritual, but in the other responsibilities at least by July.
I. Communicate your officers training program to the membership. A member who may otherwise be reluctant to assume a leadership position may step forward because he now realizes that a program to improve his skills is available and that he is not alone as he assumes greater responsibilities. Always remember those important principles that we have previously discussed. Plan, organize, communicate, delegate and control are vital when implementing a staff training program.
“Masons make themselves known by certain...
Internally, we do a pretty good job on signs of recognition, lapel pins, rings, etc. However, we do not do a good job making ourselves known within the communities where we live. During our better years, in the 1940’s and 1950’s, it was easy. Most civic, professional and business leaders were members of the fraternity. Regrettably, this is no longer the case. We must make a solid and concerted effort to expose our principles and beliefs to the communities in which we live. No one will do it for us. Each community is unique and therefore different strategies are required. There is simply no excuse for sequestering ourselves in our temples while the community swirls around us.
One of your goals is to improve public awareness of your Lodge and of the Masonic fraternity. The objectives you can develop to reach that goal are limited only by your imagination. Pick up and read your community calendar and decide how you and your Lodge can be a vital part of these planned activities. Your only limitation is soliciting the public for funds for your internal use. Information booths at festivals, participation in parades, attendance at local churches, community groups and service clubs is appropriate. Every time you go out, invite others to come in, as guests or program speakers. These are but a flew examples of thousands of ideas. Your primary task is to get that team thinking and working on a program to increase our public awareness.
MANAGING YOUR MOST VALUABLE ASSET: YOUR TIME
You now have that top hat firmly in place, the gavel in hand and stand ready to govern the lodge during your Masonic year. 365 days, 8760 hours and 585,600 minutes are available for your use. Your committees are in place, the program is set and the officers and members stand ready to assist in building the lodge. The question remains, “How can I possibly accomplish all that needs to be done in the short time frame of one year?” Time, your most valuable resource, can either be squandered, without hope of recovery, or efficiently managed and put to effective use.
Absent the time required to accomplish mandated Masonic tasks, i.e., stated meeting, degrees, funerals, etc., you have full control of your time. You must realize that each hour wasted is one less hour you have to accomplish your goals. Each hour effectively utilized is one further step towards improving your Lodge. The choice is yours. How will you manage your most valuable resource?
A. Be Master of Your Own Schedule
You must first realize that it is your time you are spending and you can be either its boss, or you can allow it to boss you. Your year can be either a rewarding experience, or it can become an exhausting ordeal. The difference is in the manner in which you manage your time. The following are some helpful hints that will assist you in changing your time use habits and achieving your goals for the year.
B. Time Savers
Each of us have valuable commitments to our family and employer that must be satisfied prior to scheduling time for the Lodge. To take full advantage of every hour, it is mandatory that you evaluate your work habits and eliminate those activities which are unproductive and waste your valuable time. Eliminate time wasters and utilize the following to increase your productivity.
1. Schedule a portion of each day strictly to conduct the business of the Lodge. That scheduled hour will accomplish more than many hours grabbed at random.
2. Station yourself in a quiet place and do not take any telephone calls, receive visitors or allow yourself to be otherwise interrupted. Ask mother to keep the kids quiet, answer the telephone and take messages. Protect your time.
3. Inform your officers and members of your schedule so that they will not be annoyed when told that you are now busy and will get to them at another time. Additionally, they will cooperate in reducing the potential for interruptions during your work period.
4. Schedule yourself the previous day by writing down important tasks, in order of priority, on a THINGS TO DO TODAY pad that can be purchased at any stationery store. During your scheduled time, begin on #1 and stay with it until you are completed. Recheck your priorities and then begin on #2. Make this your habit every working day and you will find that things get done and you will still have extra time for other important tasks.
5. All your telephone calls should be short, to the point and strictly business. Use other time to socialize on the telephone. Your schedule dictates only work for this period.
6. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Those who procrastinate habitually become interruption prone. Take a difficult task, set priorities, time limits and focus on the problem until it is resolved.
7. Don’t be a perfectionist: If you wait until you are absolutely sure of everything you will never get anything done.
8. Learn to say no. You cannot accomplish everything for everybody. Many activities are in the “nice to do, but not essential” category. Do not spend time on efforts that are not included in your goals. It is much easier to just say NO than to waste time on unproductive endeavors.
9. BE decisive! Delaying a decision or talking an issue to death will not result in a solution. Face up to a problem, make your decision and move on to another issue. Don’t waste time because of a reluctance to take on a decision.
10. An “I’ll ‘do it myself’ attitude will result in you spending your time on nonessential tasks that can be done perfectly well by others. Decide what is important for you to accomplish and what should be delegated to others. As Master, don’t waste time on minor matters. There will not be enough left for what is important.
11. Make appointments and keep them. Don’t allow unscheduled meetings to occur at times when you should be socializing with the brethren. Those times are for relaxation and fellowship, not business. If cornered, simply acknowledge that the Brother has an important concern and schedule a time to get together for either a meeting or simply a telephone call. This will make him feel important, and you have not wasted time that should be devoted to others.
12. Constantly evaluate your use of time. Most time management experts strongly recommend that you keep a simple log of your activities so that you can evaluate exactly how your time is being utilized and then make the necessary adjustments to increase productivity. Your present habits must give way to your new responsibilities otherwise you will never find quality time to properly complete your required tasks.
Our ritual eloquently speaks of the importance of managing time. “Whereby we find eight hours for service to GOD and a distressed worthy Brother, eight hours for our usual vocations and eight hours for refreshment and rest”. This is instruction given to your newest candidate. You should also follow that example by allocating your time for the benefit of your Lodge and your brethren. You can make your job exceedingly difficult and time consuming or you can make it seem like “a piece of cake”. The difference between the two is in the manner in which you manage your time.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014