Each year the CCAT co-directors interpret the mission of the program, make the fundamental decisions of policy, set goals, write and execute budgets, supervise staff, volunteers and students, represent the organization within the University and the larger community, and do the dishes at the end of the day. While all the people involved with CCAT play important roles, from funding to advising to managing to grunt labor, the co-directors are the heart of CCAT.
The responsibilities of the position are equal to the opportunities for learning.
Over the years each set of co-directors has determined how they would run the organization, putting a very personal stamp on a position that has a great deal of latitude. This job description is in no way intended to circumscribe the imagination or the efforts of the co-directors.
However, over the decades an oral tradition of institutional wisdom has developed that this document is intended, in small part, to represent. The suggestions below are not hard and fast rules; rather they are the humble recommendations from those who have had a similar, but never(!) identical experience.
1. The Work Load
You should expect to work 30 hours a week and sometimes as many as 70. You are welcome to curtail the many things CCAT does so you can focus on doing just a few things well, or to try to exemplify “simple living” by simplifying the program, but the fact is that sometimes circumstances will not allow it. You will have a crisis that comes up that may jeopardize the future of CCAT if you did not address it, and the period of time required to resolve the crisis will push you out of your comfort zone. It happens. We recommend that you have a strategy for how you are going to accommodate 40, 50 and 60 hour work weeks.
What has usually happened in the past is that co-directors have taken a significantly reduced class load and worked less at outside jobs. One class with a significant homework load is usually more than enough to add to the rest of the work at CCAT, and more than 8-12 hours of extra work is usually difficult to pull off while still keeping CCAT your first priority. Some very effective co-directors have taken full academic class loads or had 20 hours of work a week on the side, but this kind of workload is hard to maintain without drinking coffee all day or abandoning all hope of a social life. There just aren’t that many hours in a day, and you will need to spend a lot of them at CCAT in order for your collective vision to become a reality.
2. Working As A Team.
You are one of three co-directors, CCAT is a busy place, and you will probably need to talk every day in order to keep abreast of what’s going on. These daily talks need not be formal, but a formal sit down meeting once or twice a week will be necessary to coordinate effectively. There’s just that much going on.
You will also need to meet with your staff, volunteers and students doing projects according to whatever internal division of labor you adopt, if you adopt a division of labor. Associated Students will likely ask that just one of you be in charge of managing the budget, but even that role can be collaborative among co-directors if the desire is there. Beyond that one role there have been many successful ways of sharing and dividing labor, but if you do not work as a team things will likely go wrong in small and large ways.
3. Resolving Conflicts
As you try to work as a team, maintaining your professional and personal relationships with your co-directors will require thought and effort. Even among the most simpatico co-directors, inevitably conflicts will come up, The most common conflicts in the past have concerned imbalances in the work loads, differences in leadership styles, keeping the house clean, and interpersonal communication. In the past, most of these conflicts have been resolved, but some of these conflicts have grown so large that CCAT itself has suffered, and five times in 28 years a co-director has quit the position.
Conflict resolution is a much larger topic than this document is intended to address, but here are some recommended steps:
4. Your Private Life
You will likely need to have time away from CCAT to talk with friends, build or maintain a romantic relationship, or just get relief from the work load. In the past this has worked best when coordinated with your fellow co-directors. Some years each co-director has had an alternating afternoon off. Other years the house has been closed on the weekends. Each set of co-directors finds their own balance of personal and professional time.
However, one constant over the years is that the co-directors have lived at CCAT. “Living” at CCAT is up for interpretation, and the most important opinion is those of the two co-directors you are working with. However, what this has generally meant is sleeping the majority of nights at the house. This will likely work best for you for a variety of reasons, including the need to have informal “meetings” at all hours of the day, the need to interact with the systems such as the PV array, greywater marsh, passive solar greenhouse, composting toilet, etc. as a resident (bathing, heating your living space, studying at night, etc.) and for your own benefit—this house is first and foremost the co-directors’ learning tool.
5. Your Leadership Role
You are the leaders, the final decision makers at CCAT in almost every circumstance. As mentioned above, you set policy, hire and manage employees, write the budget and execute the budget and represent CCAT to the University and the larger community. These responsibilities may seem overwhelming, and you are welcome to ask for help. Former Co-directors generally try to make themselves available for advising the next generation, and CCAT’s faculty advisor is another excellent resource. For larger questions about CCAT history, policy, and the overarching mission, the Steering Committee is your best resource. It exists to provide advise and guidance, especially during tough times, and if problems are brewing you are encouraged to approach the Committee for help. The Steering Committee is discussed in further detail in another document.
Although the three co-directors have a tremendous amount of latitude, there are a few decisions that you must make with the administration or the Steering Committee, such as:
6. Managing Employees
CCAT began as a volunteer organization and as it grew in stature and ambition, previous co-directors have requested funds from AS to hire employees to facilitate more and higher quality work. This trend has slowly changed the role of co-directors from one in which the directors performed most of the design and physical labor to one where they are managing those who are designing and installing systems. This has allowed CCAT to hire ever more specialized and effective employees, but required skill sets of the co-directors more like those of a CEO than a small business owner.
The inherent problems with this situation that you will likely confront are:
Like so much of co-directing at CCAT, this will be a learn as you go, trial by fire kind of situation. Some tips from those who’ve been there:
● Make the positions look and feel like “real” jobs, with regular hours, bi-weekly check-in meetings and raises for long-time employees if AS will allow it
● Practice open, clear and respectful communication about work performance and the consequences if work is not performed to expectations. This will be fun with the employees who are doing exactly what you expect, and difficult with those who are not doing what you expect. As difficult as it is to clearly and respectfully tell someone that their work performance is not to your standard, it is part of your job as a co-director, and it is the only way things will improve.
● If you’ve had multiple meetings to clearly and respectfully discuss poor work performance without improvement, you need to be prepared to let the staff person go. Unless the staff person quits of their own accord, you will need to work with the AS General Manager to fire the staff person. This will not be fun, but poor work performance has ramifications throughout the organization that are even worse than the difficulty of holding someone accountable for their choices.