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Some Rotary clubs have a major problem. It starts with a few good-natured jabs at the President and everybody laughs. Then a few more jabs. And everybody laughs. Soon you have seven or eight members trying to one-up each other on criticizing the President and then it becomes a free-for-all. It all seems like it’s done in fun, but what message does it send internally to your members and externally to club visitors?
It seems to be a Rotary club tradition to give the Club President a hard time, but a visitor will likely see excessive ribbing as unprofessional and when the President is humiliated in public it may become uncomfortable for guest to even be in the room. The ‘fun’ behavior can and will become the basis of the club’s public image to non-members.
Ask yourself these questions the next time club members are having ‘fun’ at the expense of the President:
- Who is doing the ribbing (males or females, older members or younger members, etc.)?
- Is the ribbing done in kindness, or is it mean?
- If you were the Club President, how would you handle/feel about the ribbing?
- Does the ribbing reinforce the public image that Rotary is a professional organization for all ages/genders or an old man’s fraternity?
But what internal message does it give to the club members?
Many clubs find it difficult to recruit a member to be Club President because of the time and energy required. Add the weekly humiliation to the significant responsibilities of the role and it is easy to understand why many members pass on the job. It also may lead some members to grow weary of constant sophomoric behavior and add to the dissatisfiers that will cause them to leave the club.
Rotary clubs do not have to be a sober, somber environment, but they do have to be professional. Members should be aware that ‘fun’ has its limits and that not all ribbing is ‘good natured’. But if certain members feel they must be disrespectful of the President, then let their pleasure be profitable for the club….I would say a $5 fine per incident would be a starting place.
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