Sunday, July 20, 2014
Ask An Election Nerd: What Makes A Good RFD?
Hey Nancy. First, this blog is what gets me through call time every day. Second of all, I was wondering what the ideal RFD is like? I've worked on non profit campaigns before, but never as a FO for a candidate, so I'm not completely sure how they should act. My co-FO's and I having a hard time with her, mostly because of they way she treats us and volunteers, and her poor time management skills. We try to empower our volunteers, but she treats them more or less like unpaid robots.
It sounds like you might just want the space to vent, which is totally okay. Not everyone is a good manager and not everyone's management style works for everyone else. When you are dealing with that fact day in and day out far away from the friends and family who usually keep you grounded, the situation can be maddening. For an example of a time when I had trouble dealing with my regional field director click here. My experience in that post is somewhat specific, but I would always encourage empathy when conflict of personalities arises on campaigns,which by the way is not to suggest that your experience is invalid. I hear you and that sucks. Treating staff or volunteers like robots is not cool!
Your question was, "what is an ideal RFD like?" I'm not sure whether that was rhetorical, but I'm going to answer it anyway. I would say there is no "ideal" RFD because different styles of leadership work for different people. I was super lucky that I connected with so well with my first Regional or we might not be here today. There are lots of different ways to be good at your job (although I would argue not as many ways as there are to be bad at it.) That said, here are some things that I think make a great RFD.
1)Remember that you are a facilitator. As an RFD your number one job is to advocate for your organizers and get them the tools they need to meet their goals, whether that be training, resources, opportunities for their volunteers etc. Likewise it is your job to get what headquarters needs from your region by holding your organizers accountable. You are essentially in a service position. It's an endless cycle of facilitating between the two.
2)Don't ask anyone to do work you're not willing to do yourself. By all means, make your organizers do six hour call time, make your orgs do seven hour call time if that's what it takes to win, but you better do at least some of it with them. You know, like a person.
3)Work harder than anyone you supervise. Nothing breeds resentment more than routinely getting into work before and leaving after your boss. Lead by example.
4)Spring for a beer every once in a while. Or buy lunch. When the region gets a chance to send one member to an exciting surrogate event, don't nominate yourself. As my buddy Mark recently advised me (paraphrased), "What's the point in being the boss if you can't take advantage every once in a while? But not until you've taken care of your people."
5)Explain why. Just as with interns and volunteers organizers will be more motivated if they understand why they are being asked to do the work they do and how it fits into the bigger picture. Once you've done a couple of cycles the why of field becomes obvious, but you cannot reinforce the importance of your organizers roles enough.
Hang in there!
Campaign Love and Mine,
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