Coaching is the third text that composes the Management of Volunteers in Scouting (MoViS) resources.
After taking a new position or function a volunteer might feel insecure about his/her role and skills. During the volunteer life cycle issues related to Scouting but also from the personal sphere originate individual blockages and difficulties. This are just two reasons that show how important coaching processes can be to properly support volunteers in order to avoid issues and challenges to become problems. Ultimately, a positive guidance helps volunteers to feel valued and to stay active for longer within the organisation.
This means that coaching is not a corrective tool and that it is usually more than just emergency help.
In Scouting coaching processes can be used for general personal development, to improve a specific area of performance, or as part or a complement of the training provided by the organisation. Overall coaching reinforces the engagement of the volunteer/team in the organisation by improving the skills and abilities needed to support and strengthen the quality of his/its performance.
According to the GROW model (Whitmore, 1992), coaching is based on four stages:
Whether you are working at the national or at the local level keep in mind the importance of:
• Having identified a number of people that can perform the coach role
• Whenever possible, to let the person/ group decide who will coach him/ them
• Using peers as coaches
• Coaching as a learning and personal development opportunity for the coach
• Providing information resources and training opportunities to coaches
• Establishing a network of coaches
If your organisation set as an objective of the annual plan to raise membership by 5% you can set performance goals in different areas that will contribute to this aim and help measuring the progress achieved: make the districts/ regions action more visible in order to build a sound organisation, develop and maintain a good administration, improve internal and external communication, recruit new leaders, etc. You can then set a coaching plan with the key people in the different departments in order to provide them the support they need to achieve the established goals.
• Before the meeting: review relevant documentation; ensure you are aware of the group/ organisational strategy
• During the meeting: clear expectations; state the problems in terms of expected performance vs. actual performance; identify processes and resources needed; jointly develop an action-plan
• After the meeting: documenting; follow-up; step-out
If a leader from your local group is not engaging in his role and states that it is a problem to match his activity as a volunteer with his personal life constraints. As Local Group Leader it is part of your role to help him finding the best way to solve this issue. You decide to schedule a coaching session with him, and ask the following questions:
• What is the key issue you are dealing with?
• Is a role in Scouting part of your life project?
• Which are the key conflicts between your role in Scouting and your personal life?
• What does usually prevents you from performing your role as a leader?
• Which are your main personal priorities outside and within Scouting?
• How do you think you could invert that situation?
• What stops you from doing it?
• What support do you have at home, in your networks, on work to fulfill your role as a leader?
• How could you get more support to do it?
• How can the Local Group help you?
• What are you going to do to tackle this issue? When?
• Which will be the backup plan?
Placing this questions in the different phases of the GROW model will show you that some can be used in different phases and that what really matters is the purpose beyond their use. They are meant to drawing out and strengthening people’s abilities through careful observation and feedback, and then facilitating them to act, usually in coordination with other team members. Effective coaching analysis people’s abilities and observes people’s behavior and gives them tips and guidance on how to effectively use their competencies and/or inspires them on how to improve their competencies according to specific contexts and situations.
You also need to consider that in Scouting coaching processes sometimes happen in an non planned way and that informal coaching might help you making the best use of time and be more effective as a coach. In that sense dialogue and activities aim at releasing potential within teams and individuals and must be understood as a dialogue of learning and change. Therefore it is essential to use skills and processes as motivating, getting to know, building the relationship, identifying needs and competencies, supporting, evaluating, keeping contact, and giving feedback.
References and complementary readings:
Whitmore, John. (1992). Coaching for Performance. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
World Scout Bureau: WSB. (2009). Adult volunteers toolkit. Vol. 2. Geneva: WSB. 18-22.
Retrieved from January 20, 2013, from http://www.scout.org/en/information_events/library/volunteering/volunteers_in_scouting_toolkit_2
World Scout Bureau: WSB. (2010). The Grey Area. EuroScoutDoc. 11-12.
Retrieved January 20, 2013, from http://www.scout.org/en/around_the_world/europe/information_events/resources/euro_scout_doc/the_grey_area