Clerk Certification?

Discuss basic duties of stake and ward clerks, including where to begin.
LindsayRE
Church Employee
Church Employee
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2009 2:27 pm
Location: USA, Utah, West Jordan

Clerk Certification?

Postby LindsayRE » Fri Oct 02, 2009 2:29 pm

What would it take to "certify" our clerks and others responsible for record-keeping? How could we be certain they know their responsibilities and can complete their assignments? Would they have to complete some training? Pass a test? Serve for x number of years? Submit all reports on time for x number of months? Complete three consecutive clean financial audits?

RossEvans
Senior Member
Posts: 1346
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:52 pm
Location: Austin TX
Contact:

Postby RossEvans » Fri Oct 02, 2009 2:35 pm

The basic rule is that clerks serve until they start to get it right. Then they are released. :)

User avatar
aebrown
Community Administrator
Posts: 14693
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:48 pm
Location: Sandy, Utah

Postby aebrown » Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:12 pm

lindsayre wrote:What would it take to "certify" our clerks and others responsible for record-keeping? How could we be certain they know their responsibilities and can complete their assignments? Would they have to complete some training? Pass a test? Serve for x number of years? Submit all reports on time for x number of months? Complete three consecutive clean financial audits?


The simple answer is that you can never be certain that they know everything they need to know. Besides, as with so many assignments in this world, having the knowledge is not the same as executing on that knowledge. Knowledge is certainly necessary for good performance, but it is by no means sufficient.

That said, I would make the following comments:

  1. Completing training. Although completing training courses is certainly helpful, simply clicking through a bunch of screens of online training doesn't necessarily imply the acquisition and internalization of knowledge. There were some excellent clerks before a single training course had been developed. They learned by working with other clerks, reading handbooks, and on the job training. So I would say that training may help prepare you for certification, but may not be necessary and certainly is not sufficient for certification.
  2. Pass a test. Developing a reasonable test would be a challenge, but if it is certification you are interested in, this is probably the most promising approach. If you think of certifications such as CPA or SCJP or even a driver's license, a test is the key determining factor.
  3. Serve for x number of years. Time of service really means little in and of itself. I suppose if someone is really incompetent, they're likely to be released before serving for several years, but some people become capable and productive very quickly, while others take a long time or never quite get it. That said, it is not uncommon for some certifications to have certain minimum times in conjunction with an examination (for example, to get a driver's license you may have to be driving for 6 months with a learner's permit before you can get a license).
  4. Submit reports on time. Being on time is good, but there is no guarantee of accuracy. If you reward certain behavior, you tend to get more of it. If you emphasize speed of reports, you may be de-emphasizing quality, which is not a good thing (on the other hand, all the quality in the world is not helpful if your quarterly report is 4 months late!).
  5. Three clean audits. For financial clerks, the semi-annual audit is akin to a test, so this proposal has some merit. The financial clerk is not the only one being audited in a ward or stake financial audit, so it's not a pure evaluation of his performance, but he is responsible for the vast majority of the audit steps. The other virtue of this measurement is that it evaluates actual performance, not just knowledge.
I think the best certification would blend some of the above: it would require some time of service and completion of training courses as prerequisites, and then some sort of evaluation would determine the actual certification.

After saying all that, I have some questions that I really should have asked at the very beginning: What is the purpose of the certification? How will this exercise benefit individuals serving in these callings, their priesthood leaders, and the Church as a whole? What happens if someone doesn't pass their certification? What happens when they do pass?

boomerbubba wrote:The basic rule is that clerks serve until they start to get it right. Then they are released. :)


In light of this basic rule, I suppose the humorous answer to my final question above is that the priesthood leaders would then know when it is time to release a clerk. :D

lajackson
Community Moderators
Posts: 6148
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:27 pm
Location: US

Postby lajackson » Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:49 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:In light of this basic rule, I suppose the humorous answer to my final question above is that the priesthood leaders would then know when it is time to release a clerk. :D


Ah, a new method of receiving revelation. [grin]

lindsayre, around here we consider them "certified" when they accept the call. But you have proposed some excellent training ideas and goals worth looking into.

crislapi
Senior Member
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 3:05 pm
Location: USA

Postby crislapi » Sat Oct 03, 2009 11:10 am

lindsayre wrote:What would it take to "certify" our clerks and others responsible for record-keeping? How could we be certain they know their responsibilities and can complete their assignments? Would they have to complete some training? Pass a test? Serve for x number of years? Submit all reports on time for x number of months? Complete three consecutive clean financial audits?


I'm slightly confused what clerks you are referring to. I'm guessing you're referring to ward clerks, but just to clarify, are you talking about "certifying" church employees or ward clerks? I definitely see the merit of some sort of certification process for ward clerks, but I don't see how it can be required. What happens if someone doesn't pass? Are they released?

I don't have the years of experience most clerks commenting on this forum have, but I have trained something on the order of 15 new ward clerks in the last year (we have very high turnover). With turnover like that, I can't spend more than a couple weeks with the new clerks. Here is what I've found.

The online training is adequate for getting them started, but fails to prove useful when problems are encountered. It would be helpful to have some trouble-shooting presentations up there as well. However, in all reality, there is so much information for a new clerk to pick up on that trying to give it to them all up front would be overload. I have found that it is better to wait for them to encounter the task/problem/etc and then they are receptive to being trained on that item. It sticks better.

Because of the high turnover, there are certain things I think are crucial that all clerks know as soon as possible. That is what I focus my training on. These items are 1) processing donations 2) preparing reimbursements 3) reconciling CUFS and 4) count sacrament attendance. That is probably a short list for most of you, but if they are still around when something else comes up (NSF checks, missionary payments, quarterly reports, annual history, tithing settlement, entering budgets) then they get trained on that as well.

So back to how to certify. Best I think would be to identify some critical items that absolutely must be understood within the first couple weeks of being a clerk. There is an endless number of potential problems that could occur. I think those need to be dealt with as they are encountered and shouldn't be part of a certification process. All you would want to make sure is that the clerk knows where to go for help when he is stuck.

As a side note, I think it is important that those resources be easily accessible/approachable or the clerk is likely to flail around blindly trying to fix it on his own.

There is also an entire membership side of their duties. Luckily, we have very few ordinations, and the ones we do have we work directly with the clerk to make sure it is entered correctly. Organization info - if they were using it, they continue to use it. If not, then they don't. We don't train on it unless they want to. As we all know, nothing gets you in contact with CHQ quicker than messing up on the finances. I've never gotten a call because soneone's calling wasn't entered correctly in MLS.

If we are really going to get picky on who can be a clerk, perhaps best would be to provide instructions to a bishop of what skills are required for someone to be called as a clerk. But wait, who's training bishops?

User avatar
aebrown
Community Administrator
Posts: 14693
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:48 pm
Location: Sandy, Utah

Postby aebrown » Sat Oct 03, 2009 11:22 am

crislapi wrote:If we are really going to get picky on who can be a clerk, perhaps best would be to provide instructions to a bishop of what skills are required for someone to be called as a clerk. But wait, who's training bishops?


Fortunately, the Church has provided training on this particular topic: the online lesson for bishops and stake presidents titled Calling and Strengthening Stake and Ward Clerks.


Return to “Getting Started for New Clerks”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest