Here are ten sequential and tangible ways to support your staff by coaching them toward integrating youth program quality:
- Train your staff - Show them what youth program quality IS, why it matters, and share how it is measurable and can improve youth programs. There is an abundance of information available.
- Acknowledge and celebrate staff strengths - Build connections with your staff by recognizing the strengths they offer for improving program quality.
- Establish trust - Quality measures should not be used as a performance tool to measure staff performance. Keep this focused on program improvement!
- Observe staff - delivering youth programming at point of service with youth. Take objective and factual notes about what was observed, using quotes, and objective descriptions of interactions between youth and staff.
- Provide reflective feedback - Schedule a time and lead a discussion where you serve as a mirror about the observation by sharing factual and objective notes taken during the observation. Take turns talking and listening during the feedback session.
- Active listening is essential - You want a sense of shared control during a feedback session. Give staff space to reflect on what THEY thought went well and what didn’t go well during the program observation.
- Ask divergent questions - Assure the feedback session is a discussion not a judgment. Use open ended questions to guide the discussion, not “Yes or No” questions.
- Let staff lead - Ask them what they think can be improved for youth program quality. Build on their suggestions to begin crafting an improvement plan.
- Agree upon a plan - Choose a few things to focus on for improving youth programming.
- Make a commitment - Observe the program again to support the plan and to recognize improvements.
By: Margo Herman, Extension Educator at University at Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development, based on her NAA 2014 National Conference presentation “Coaching to Quality”.