Question: Officer disagreements

We are starting a brand new PTO this year with schools that are merging and we have an even split of the officers between the 2 schools. Everyone got along great over the summer but now that we are getting into the year it's not that way. I knew, as President it wasn't going to be easy, but there are 2 officers that, for lack of a better term, are feeding off of eachother with their negativity towards the merge, etc. We are working on bylaws and one of the issues that came up was expenses for a carnival, etc. When we all talked over the summer we agreed that we wouldn't just give people money though we are still working on bylaws to say that. Now, as we are planning our first event it has come up again. One of the officers said that the school she came from didn't do that (had money stolen last year from the group) and another organization she worked with wasn't that strict (also had thousands of $ stolen from them). When she wouldn't listen to the Treasurer say that she needed receipts I stepped in as President to back up the Treasurer. The 2 unhappy officers have gotten together and discussed how they are not happy and one confronted me saying I am unapproachable, it's all about me and it's the "Jane Doe" (me) show. At the same time I have many parents emailing me about what a great thing we are doing and even had someone offer a $2K anonymous donation to help us out. I've also been told that at the last meeting they were rolling their eyes behind me and they were talking when I was talking. Apparently they didn't appear "approachable or happy" in general, to others. I knew going into this it was going to be a tough year and the merge is a culture shock to lot of parents. We have an officers meeting tonight and I want to address these things... any advice? I'm very protective of the PTO this year. I have, and will continue, to work hard to include everyone and go against the clique mentality - something that was not done at either school last year. I want to trust that the officers are all giving the right message to those they come in contact with so that they can do more and more. But right now I don't feel I can trust them to present themselves in a way that doesn't appear to be disgruntled with the school changes, the PTO, etc. HELP!!!!

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
A school merger can be a very difficult situation, and it sounds like you are doing a great job. From your post I'm thinking you are seeking to co-opt the two naysayers (rather than getting rid of them). If so, you need to have a frank discussion with them. The goal is to get through the noise to understand what's really at the root of all the negativism. It's Stephen Covey's habit No. 5: Seek first to understand. The second part of that is "and then to be understood." Listen to what they have to say, then respond frankly and directly. Don't beat around the bush or try to appease them -- say what you mean. The article How To Deal With Difficult People goes into depth on how to use this approach successfully. Good luck!

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