Hypothetical Learning Scenarios for Coaching
Though very valued members of the organization, often volunteers are not necessarily given the same attention by the paid management as the paid staff, especially when it comes to both their alignment with the goals and objectives of the organization as well as their personal goals and growth within the organization. Most often this is only addressed when they differ substantially from those of the organization and are therefore starting to cause problems. This often leads to the volunteer deciding to leave the organization. In the Studenterhus we are developing FrivilligUdviklingsSamtaler (FUS), Volunteer Growth Sessions, inspired by the Staff growth sessions, that are implemented annually or semi-annually in almost all Danish corporations. Each semester the responsible paid coordinators are encouraged to have FUS with their volunteer group leaders, establishing goals and action points for the coming semester, following the steps and recommendations of the GRROW model (link to the right place in the ebook.)
Results for the organisation
The FUS allow for the paid staff to take a break from the daily running of things and have deeper, reflective conversations with the key volunteers, where the dreams, frustrations and potentials of the volunteers are in focus, more than the trivial day to day practicalities. When approached with an appreciative mindset this gives the paid staff valuable insight into the potentials of the individual volunteer and often uncovers growth potential for the entire organization and not just the individual volunteer. Taking the personal and professional growth of the volunteers seriously by taking the time for these conversations in our experience leads to volunteers that feel appreciated and increases motivation, and as such also serves a general retention tool to increase the time the volunteers stay on in the organization.
Results for the group leader
One of the key elements in appreciative management is recognizing and focusing on the strengths and qualities in other individuals and how these can be activated to solve any challenges that occur. A volunteer that feels appreciated as someone with strengths and qualities will increase their belief in themselves and according to the theory of appreciative management be even more motivated and prepared to learn and grow as an individual, also when this means facing challenges and change.
The FUS can be held as a longer (1-1,5 hrs) session every semester or every 3 months. It is also possible to do “mini-FUS” every two weeks, as a way of maintaining good communication and an ongoing development process.
The volunteers feel that they are taken seriously as an important and valued part of the organization, which in return gives them a sense of ownership and belonging in the organization, thus making them stay longer as loyal ambassadors for the organization as well as valued staff.
Appreciative FUS questions
Volunteers are sometimes more than teachers and act as coaches for participants and their volunteer colleagues. A friendly atmosphere of trust can help them coach each other.
If you create an atmosphere of trust a more intense environment arises. Volunteers and participants accept more training from others and get more faith in certain things.
Volunteers who teach other volunteers and participants take breaks together. There is time and space to talk to each other after class/activities. People get to know one another and there is an atmosphere of trust. They listen to each other.
When you want to talk with your volunteers about their work, it is constructive to have something to talk about and to speak ‘the same language’. Take part in their activities so you know what they are doing. This is not a way of controlling them, but of showing interest in what they do for your organization and in the participants. Afterwards you can talk about what happened with the volunteers in a way that shows them your appreciation.
Using a guideline during your visit makes it possible for the volunteer to reflect on it. He/she will be aware of what he/she is doing and be able to talk about it.
When you visit a course/activity and talk about it afterwards, people feel appreciated. This makes it possible to talk about certain (sensible) things or just communicate about the hard work of a volunteer.
DINAMO uses a form (based on the 9 phases of Gagné) when they visit their volunteers. It’s not a checklist, just a tool to know what to focus on and what to talk about afterwards. At the beginning volunteers didn’t know what to expect when their ‘bosses’ came to visit them during their activities. When they figured out it was not a visit to check up on them but to show appreciation and give feedback, they were very happy with the visits.
It consisted of each person writing down brief first impressions of each other and then discussing them in two small groups. These groups and events aim to open up “honest” discussion between students and bridge the gap between people who come from different classes.
Opening up and overcoming preconceptions that people have surrounding the class system.
Paraphrasing is a powerful tool in facilitation work for a number of reasons:
• it communicates understanding to others;
• a good paraphrase often brings further, more reflective responses from others,
• it moves the conversation to deeper levels;
• it slows down the conversation between the parties and creates a buffer between their statements;
• it can be used to ‚launder‘ vicious or insulting statements so they are less inflammatory to the other party, if present, while retaining the essential points that were made.
Guidelines for paraphrasing include: to paraphrase is to repeat back in your own words what you understand someone else to be saying. This means keeping the focus of the paraphrase on the speaker and not on you, the listener. For example, a facilitator can say:
• „You feel that…“
• „The way you see it is…“
• „If I understand you correctly, you‘re saying that…“
Do not say:
• „I know exactly how you feel. I‘ve been in situations like that myself.“
• „You know, my sister had something like that happen to her a couple weeks ago. She…“
Interpersonal Transformation, means pay attention to the needs of both the self and the other
fostering „right relationships“, that is, relationships characterized by recognition of the other, fairness, respect, mutuality and accountability
Photos of this activity can be found in the links below: