My Approach to Parliamentary Procedure
To better understand my approach to parliamentary procedure and my role as a parliamentarian, I have provided here my attitudes and objectives regarding my work as a parliamentarian.
Parliamentary procedure is not about formality or nit-picking rules. It is not about trying to manipulate obscure rules to try to bully a group. Parliamentary procedure is about being fair and efficient in the management of meetings and organizations.
A Parliamentarian is not like a chief justice, telling the presiding officer or group what they can and can’t do. A Parliamentarian is a consultant, normally assisting the presiding officer and thereby the entire group in having fair and efficient meetings.
See also the page What is a Parliamentarian for details of the actual duties of a Parliamentarian and the Code of Ethics for Parliamentarians.
I prefer to take a proactive role, working with the client well ahead of the meeting. During this time, I listen to the client’s goals and objectives. If the goal is to get from Point A to Point B in the meeting, we discuss the most effective way to accomplish that within the rules of parliamentary procedure. We go over the proposed agenda for the meeting, considering possible controversies and preparing for possible contingencies.
If the presiding officer is my client, my goal is to keep the presiding officer out of trouble and to make the presiding officer look good. The presiding officer should be well prepared to minimize the need for the Parliamentarian during the actual meeting. The members should walk away from the meeting knowing that it was fair and efficient, even if their particular viewpoint did not prevail.
When I am hired by an organization, my client is typically the organization, not specifically the presiding officer. While I must maintain confidentiality on all matters discussed with officers or members, my responsibility is to the client. Occasionally, when I am identified as the parliamentarian for a particular meeting, I may be approached by various members or officers who are on different sides of a particular controversy. I can’t take sides on the issues to be deliberated, but I will confidentially advise both officers and members on appropriate procedures to be used, unless the conditions of my engagement as Parliamentarian specify otherwise.
If my client is not the presiding officer, but a segment of the membership whose views and objectives may differ from the either the leadership or other members, we will discuss and prepare to exercise the client’s rights to have a fair and open discussion prior to the group making a final decision. In many respects, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), can be considered a Bill of Rights for the members of an organization. Its proper use maintains a balance of power and rights between the membership as a whole, the majority, the officers, the minority, and individual members.
If a prospective client doesn’t agree with my philosophy described above, we will need to discuss these issues prior to my taking on any assignment so that there is a mutual understanding of my role. I can adapt to the desires of the client within the bounds of my conscience and professional ethics.
Copyright © John R. Berg, PRP. All rights reserved.