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EStR – Ethical Standard Round Tables

Representation and Leadership by Employees and Volunteers

The following was taken from THNC’s current Employee Handbook. The Ethical Standard Round-table (EStR) technique is intended to empower all employees to participate in continual improvement of THNC. A part of THNC’s hiring process is to introduce prospective employees to EStR, Zapp! and Quality Management – to be sure that everyone will be comfortable with the responsibilities inherent to our work environment.

The acronym that we use for THNC’s Ethical Standard Round Tables is EStR which might remind you of the Biblical character Esther. Here is a short commentary about her bravery and leadership.

Esther’s Leadership

The story of Esther, from the Book of Esther in the Old Testament, illustrates the spirit of Jewish nationalism. It is a patriotic rather than a religious story, and contains an account of the origin of the Feast of Purim, which celebrates Esther’s saving the Persian Jews during the days of the Persian king Xerxes. The author of the Book of Esther evidently drew upon his imagination for the details of the story since no evidence exists among Persian records of a Jewish maiden (Esther) becoming a queen in a Persian court. However, historical accuracy was not the purpose of the story, which illustrates the antagonism between foreign nations and the Jews. This antagonism is exemplified in the stories concerning Mordecai and Haman, and especially in the plot that Haman forms in order to have the Jews massacred. Esther’s decision to risk her own life to save her people is the noblest point of the story. (Originally taken from a Cliff Notes webpage, now summarized on Wikipedia, Old Testament summaries and commentaries at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Esther)

Implementing EStRs at THNC

Similar to the courage exhibited by Esther, reforming and maintaining our Ethical Standard and other THNC publications is the personal responsibility of every employee and volunteer. The way we operate our business is kept alive in this website and documents we share with others. Here are a few thoughts on how this responsibility might affect you:


  1. We use a “round table” meeting concept. You’ll find this idea used in literature by the knights of King Arthur (Round Table); it’s also used in Mensa to signify that its members are all equal. This means that every knight and every Mensan sitting at their respective tables (whatever its actual, physical shape) had/has equality. Since there is no head of the table, it means that no person is automatically in charge.
  2. A casual method will invite THNC employees and volunteers so everyone can attend on a regular basis. Effective meeting size will limit the number of people able to attend each EStR.
  3. We hope everyone considers their participation in EStRs as both an honor and a responsibility. It helps you define your position at THNC.
  4. Meetings will be held at regular intervals, between three weeks and two months apart. The goal is to keep meetings short, the conversation lively, and participation enjoyable.

Leader Development

  1. Each EStR will be led by you or one of your THNC associates. The goal is to distribute leadership away from senior THNC managers.
  2. Meeting leadership is a developed skill. It requires self-confidence and organization. After attending several EStRs, you will be encouraged to volunteer for leadership roles.
  3. Only part of our employees and volunteers will attend each EStR. This means the personalities of those present will pose an ever-changing challenge for conducting and controlling each EStR.
  4. Rules of order (such as Robert’s) will be followed. An agenda or possibly just a list of items to be considered will be prepared for each meeting.
  5. If you cannot fulfill your duty at a particular meeting, you and management will find a qualified stand-in. This refers to others who have completed the training you are now taking.

Meeting Development

  1. It is important that the sequence of EStRs have continuity both of form and of content with the previous one, this one, and the next one to be scheduled.
  2. Each meeting will have two leaders – an alternate and a primary. Leaders serve first in the alternate role for three consecutive meetings to gain an understanding of the EStR meeting process. This prepares alternates to serve later as primary leaders.
  3. Should the primary leader not be able to attend, the alternate may assume the primary leader’s duties.
  4. Let’s imagine that you have volunteered and are preparing to become an EStR leader. You have already attended several EStRs, so you know how meetings are begun, managed, and ended. Your first role is to become an alternate EStR leader. At your first meeting, you will be an assistant to the alternate leader. At the second, you will be an assistant to the primary leader. At the third, you will act as counsel or advisor to others who are serving in their first or second weeks as assistants to alternate or primary meeting leaders.
  5. After this three-meeting sequence, you will be qualified to serve as an alternate leader. This gradual increase in responsibility gives each leader-to-be a number of meetings to observe the methods used and ways to maintain the momentum of meetings. It is also valuable for avoiding situations where meetings bog down during stalemated discussions.
  6. After serving as an alternate, you will be encouraged to move up to the role of leader. Since everyone is different, how quickly you make this move is up to you.

Meeting Activities

  1. Every meeting will hold discussions of topics and attempts to produce recommendations to be submitted to the board of directors for their consideration. At the discretion of the board, a task force or a standing committee may be created for reviewing EStR recommendations.
  2. Proceedings of every EStR will be known to everyone at THNC. The discussions will be shared and the same as if all employees and volunteers were actually there.
  3. Comments, approvals, and rejections of the board will also form a feedback loop with the ongoing series of EStRs.
  4. You are – through participation in EStR – a vital extension of the board of directors. You help directors to be more effective.
  5. Each Zapp Team and department at THNC will have special needs. Each may produce different types of contributed ideas to EStRs. Maintaining our Ethical Standard and other documents relies on empowering all THNC associates to provide the kind of products and services they would like to use if they were members.
  6. It is possible that creating an ongoing conversation at EStRs may not be easy. This may require a lot of attention to leadership training and meeting implementation. However, it is important that everyone be empowered to lead these meetings and participate in this interactive development of our nonprofit organization.
Temet Nosce — “Know Thyself”. EStR encourages people to share what they believe is important.