Policies and procedures

Paul Hetherington | TLT President's Report July 2020

It’s fun following the rules—isn’t it?

Following the rules ensures the integrity of our board and committees for STLE’s entire membership. 

This article may come as a surprise to many of the TLT readers, but I am fairly confident that it won’t to most of the members who have served on the STLE Board of Directors or Executive Committee with me.

Before I get started though, let’s clear up one myth that I myself have jokingly stated on more than one occasion. I actually don’t sleep with the STLE Constitution and Bylaws or the Board Policy and Procedures Manual under my pillow. Although it is true that I have found myself pondering the eloquent words contained therein on many sleepless nights.

During my time on the board and Executive Committee, one of the administration committees that I enjoyed the most was Governance, a standing board committee. So what is Governance? According to businessdictionary.com, Governance is:
• Establishment of policies, and continuous monitoring of their proper implementation, by the members of the governing body of an organization. It includes the mechanisms required to balance the powers of the members (with the associated accountability) and their primary duty of enhancing the prosperity and viability of the organization.

Our own STLE Policy and Procedures Manual summarizes the responsibilities as follows:
• “[Governance] is charged with the responsibility for recommending to the Board any modifications, addition or change in Society Constitution and Bylaws and Policy and Procedures that the Committee deems to be in the best interests of the Society.”

It is not the Governance Committee’s responsibility to create policy (that’s the board’s duty) but rather to make sure that all of the day-to-day policies and procedures of the entire society comply with the Constitution and Bylaws and any other applicable external laws and requirements.

Although the STLE Constitution and Bylaws is a relatively short document, at least compared to the Board Policy and Procedures Manual, it really is a great document as it clearly lays out the foundation of who and what we are as a society. In addition, and in essence, it is our law requiring strict adherence to anything it says. Why? Very simply, it was approved in whole by the society’s membership (most recently in 2009), and any changes, no matter how small, would require a vote of the entire membership again. Changes to the Board Policy and Procedures Manual, on the other hand, only require board approval.

The Board Policy and Procedures Manual covers all of the day-to-day specifics of the society. It basically helps clarify and better quantify the Golden Rules that the society wants to follow. However, that doesn’t mean the policy manual isn’t a rule book because it most definitely is. It’s the law, too, but just needs board approval to change it.

As an example, the Constitution says that the Nominations Committee must have a minimum of five members, but the policy manual might indicate the Nominations Committee must have seven members. No conflict there, as the policy manual is still in compliance with the Constitution. If at some point the board feels that the Nominations Committee would be better served with only five members or increased to nine members, it could easily be changed with a duly approved motion at the next board of directors meeting. Conversely, if the Nominations Committee tried to operate with only three or four members, that would be a huge no-no and yours truly would be barking about it at the next board meeting.

So why did I love being on the Governance Committee? Very simply, and for the most part, I am a bit of a rule follower. And in the perspective of the society, following the rules ensures the integrity of our board and committees for the entire membership as a whole. Being on the Governance Committee was just my little homage to protect and support every single member of the society.

Sound like fun? If it does, let someone know that you are interested in joining the board. Of course, you do have to meet some minimum criteria first as defined in a couple of important documents. Hmm…wonder where I put those—let me check under my pillow.

Paul Hetherington is manager technical services for Petro-Canada Lubricants in Peachland, British Columbia, Canada. You can reach him at paul.hetherington@petrocanadalsp.com.