Document:Memorandum to LNC Board Members on Staff Relationship to the LNC 2021 August 3
based on conversations over the past couple months between the EPCC, the Chair, and Executive Director, now seems like a beneficial time to elucidate the specific nature of the relationship between staff and the LNC. The goal of this is not to modify the relationship in any particular way, or to “call out” any specific past instances where these lines may have been blurred or crossed, but rather to ensure that, as new members of staff are onboarded and changes occur on the LNC, all stakeholders, current and in the future, have a clear understanding of the professional relationship between staff and the LNC.
To this end, the chain of command is important to understand. All authority in the LNC begins with the delegates to convention every two years. Those delegates adopt our bylaws, set our platform, and elect LNC officers and At-Large Representatives. With the approval of 2/3s of the LNC, the Chair hires an Executive Director who is in turn entrusted by the policy manual with the hiring and firing (with the advice and consent of the Chair) of all other staff. In this manner, authority flows from the LNC, through the Chair, to the Executive Director, and then to staff. Reversing this chain of authority, defines the reporting relationships. Staff reports (either directly or indirectly in accordance with our staff org chart) to the Executive Director who in turn reports through the Chair to the LNC.
It is also important to understand that there is a difference between the LNC acting as a body, and the members of the LNC individually. The LNC acts officially when it acts as a body (i.e. when it conducts a vote to engage in a specific action or issue a specific directive). For example, the LNC as a body has adopted the provisions of our policy manual. Individual members of the LNC (outside of the Chair) are not solely empowered to act on behalf of the body in most instances, and not ever as regards specifically directing the actions of staff.
This has several significant implications:
Members of staff should neither seek nor receive instruction, permission, or approval for job-related activities directly from members of the LNC.
Members of the LNC should not assign work directly to staff.
Collaboration is important and members of staff, particularly those specifically tasked by the Executive Director with liaising with committees, should view interaction with individual LNC members as engagement with important stakeholders.
LNC members may often seek input, advice, or request logistical support from staff. Staff may seek to engage with LNC members who have expertise in certain areas or to seek their contribution to certain projects and activities. This is a good thing, but in no way defines or redefines reporting relationships or the chain of command described above.
The policy manual defines certain areas where staff or the Executive Director are not able to act without obtaining approval from either the chair, the LNC, the Executive Committee of the LNC, or some subcommittee of the LNC (for example, APRC). It is important for staff to know and abide by these policy manual provisions.
Outside of those areas specifically defined in the policy manual, staff should not feel the need to obtain LNC approval before acting. Actions outside an individual member of staff’s authority should be brought instead to their direct supervisor, then if necessary to the Executive Director. If there is a question whether the action is within staff’s purview, the Executive Director will consult the Chair, and the Chair may determine whether LNC action is needed.
The mere fact that a topic is being discussed by LNC members, even on the official business list, should not preclude staff from continuing to act as ordinarily would be appropriate in that area. Staff should follow the direction of their supervisor or the Executive Director accordingly. Staff should, however, refrain from acting prematurely or “anticipating” the results of open LNC ballots once a vote has been initiated.
It is inappropriate for staff to engage in debate on questions before the LNC. There are times when staff may need to respond to the LNC during debate, either due to a direct query or due to the highly relevant and time-sensitive nature of the information they have at hand. In the event this is necessary, information should be provided dispassionately and without comment on the matter before the body. This should be rare, as the proper way to convey information to the body is via the Executive Director providing that information to the Chair.
Staff may always bring concerns pertaining to matters of employment, harassment, or workplace safety to the EPCC (or to any individual member of the EPCC) directly rather than the Executive Director if that is the staff member’s preferred avenue of approach.
EPCC may on rare occasions need to reach out to staff regarding employment issues in the course of their committee work. As a general rule, no member of the LNC should reach out to a member of staff, except through the Executive Director first, to discuss employment-related matters, including job performance, exit interviews, salary conversations, etc.
Though this memo has been circulated to LNC Board Members, a companion memo from Tyler Harris is being concurrently circulated to staff. If you have any concerns or questions about your interactions with or relationship to staff or any of its members, please do not hesitate to contact the Chair. Thank you all for the work you do!