In addition to more formal training, provide some informal training and/or coaching for your leaders to develop the skills that will make them successful in their roles.
Key Elements for Effective Coaching
Remember these key points to effective coaching:
- A trusting, honest, and respectful relationship between coach and coachee
- Time for preparation and reflection
- Clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and expectations
- Effective listening
- Strategic questions that promote thinking
- Data collection and thoughtful feedback
Another way to foster skill development is to engage students in brainstorming and project planning from the very beginning. This builds interest and momentum and gives student volunteer leaders more opportunity to develop job skills. Finally, recognize students’ growth through the course of the project development and implementation. As part of your coaching, guide them in how to translate new skills to their resumes.
Delegating to Students
Through further orientation and continuing support, you are preparing student volunteer leaders to take greater responsibility and truly own their service projects. However, you must continue to work with student leaders to accomplish project goals. Effectively delegating project tasks to volunteers requires careful preparation. Consider these tips on how to delegate tasks effectively:
- Give assignments in terms of results, not just activities or tasks. In order to accomplish something, SVLs need a sense of what they are trying to achieve. Therefore, define jobs as something to accomplish (e.g., $500 raised), rather than something to do (e.g., write a grant proposal). Explain as precisely as possible what they are to do. Explain the importance of the particular task. Show them you have confidence in their ability to carry out the task. Be more interested in results than in how it is done. Be certain that the people you choose are capable of doing the assignment and have the necessary knowledge and training to do it.
- Define the level of control. Be clear with SVLs about how much authority they have in making decisions. Let them know at the start who will be responsible for making decisions. When appropriate, delegate authority to make decisions, along with the responsibility for carrying out the task.
- Communicate to your SVLs any guidelines and/or parameters to be used in shaping their decisions. Be specific about deadlines. Help set priorities.
- Make resources available to your SVLs, and offer any assistance necessary to accomplish tasks. Be aware of the types of support someone might need and the type of support you can provide. Ensure proper access to the tools and resources necessary to get the job done.
- Determine the criteria for success, and agree on how results will be judged. To be satisfied about their work, SVLs need feedback that indicates the degree of success they are having. Before the project, determine the criteria for success and how success will be evaluated.
- Establish reporting points for your SVLs along the way. Set specific times to check in with SVLs; this provides the opportunity to discuss progress and will help you avoid having meetings that occur only when things are not going well. Giving SVLs your undivided attention at a regular meeting also lets them know that you care about the work they’re doing and how it is accomplished.