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MattR

Providing useful feedback for adult leaders

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33 minutes ago, TMSM said:

Almost all disputes are solved by looking up the rules in GTA or GTSS. This allowed comittee members to give feedbook based on the rules and less on personal opinion.

I think the best kind of feedback on program quality (including how the leaders are doing) is objective, meaning:  First, there are concrete standards derived from current BSA publications, and it is easy to determine whether they are met or unmet.  Second, the assessment is done by experienced but disinterested reviewers.  All it takes is widely publicizing the standards, with a year for units to get in shape before the assessments start. The assessment teams could be made up of unit Scouters from other districts.  The written report would grade the unit's compliance with the standards, and would be provided to the chartered organization, the unit leaders and unit committee, and the district Key 3.  Then the district folks can be the "How can we help your unit" good guys.

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40 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

I think the best kind of feedback on program quality (including how the leaders are doing) is objective, meaning:  First, there are concrete standards derived from current BSA publications, and it is easy to determine whether they are met or unmet.  Second, the assessment is done by experienced but disinterested reviewers.  All it takes is widely publicizing the standards, with a year for units to get in shape before the assessments start. The assessment teams could be made up of unit Scouters from other districts.  The written report would grade the unit's compliance with the standards, and would be provided to the chartered organization, the unit leaders and unit committee, and the district Key 3.  Then the district folks can be the "How can we help your unit" good guys.

I get enough of this bureaucratic garbage at work. Why would I volunteer my free time to get more of the same?

Scouting is a game for boys. Let's keep it fun.

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On 1/18/2019 at 5:14 PM, RememberSchiff said:

Voting seems to be a common feedback method whether by feet or ballot.  Odd that scouts elect their leaders in a troop but adults do not.  :confused:

No it’s not.  BSA uses a licensing (chartering) System. The license includes the duty to select best qualified candidates for adult leadership. Voting leaders generally doesn’t get us the best, rather the most popular. 

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4 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

I think the best kind of feedback on program quality (including how the leaders are doing) is objective, meaning:  First, there are concrete standards derived from current BSA publications, and it is easy to determine whether they are met or unmet.  Second, the assessment is done by experienced but disinterested reviewers.  All it takes is widely publicizing the standards, with a year for units to get in shape before the assessments start. The assessment teams could be made up of unit Scouters from other districts.  The written report would grade the unit's compliance with the standards, and would be provided to the chartered organization, the unit leaders and unit committee, and the district Key 3.  Then the district folks can be the "How can we help your unit" good guys.

I understand the idea behind this.  It's pretty common today in many things we do.  Basically - when something's not working as we'd like, as a society we look to a higher power to create some sort of testing or process to improve things.  But, I don't think it's right for the BSA to do this.

First - I'm with @David CO on this.  Why would volunteers want to be part of a system where they are getting assessed and graded for what they do.  No thanks on that one.

Second - The BSA already has all kinds of systems in place to assist units.  The biggest problem is that many areas don't utilize them well.  So, I'm not sure why we'd want to invent another.

 

Edited by ParkMan
clarity

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On 1/18/2019 at 12:46 PM, SSF said:

An effective manager, or leader, in scouting or elsewhere will strive to guide their subordinates rather than dictate to them. Hopefully the subordinate will then be able to realize the impact of their decisions while retaining their autonomy and without feeling as though they are being undermined by their manager; e.g.

I fear using the analogy of managers and subordinates in scouts.  I fear trying to create the perfect troop or perfect scout hierarchy.  Of course, help them work in small groups with their PL as their representative.  Help their SPL representative the whole troop.  

We need to coach leaders to focus on the fun.  Get the scouts outside.  Encourage activities and camping and adventures.  Within that context, scout leaders have plenty of opportunities to set examples and coach our scouts.   

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1 hour ago, fred8033 said:

I fear using the analogy of managers and subordinates in scouts.  I fear trying to create the perfect troop or perfect scout hierarchy.  Of course, help them work in small groups with their PL as their representative.  Help their SPL representative the whole troop.  

We need to coach leaders to focus on the fun.  Get the scouts outside.  Encourage activities and camping and adventures.  Within that context, scout leaders have plenty of opportunities to set examples and coach our scouts.   

I've also shows away from the manager/subordinate mentality.  Instead, I've used the phrase "we're all simply playing different roles to make the troop work".  This has always led me to treat my fellow volunteers with the utmost professionalism.  

Seems to work pretty well for us.

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As of the end of 2017, BSA had:  266 local councils.  99,814 units.  1,245,882 Cub Scouts.  834,142 Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts.  87,827 Venturers and Sea Scouts.  114,751 Explorers.

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

It's a very simple equation:  The more youth who are active in a BSA program, and the longer they are active in a BSA program, the more likely they are to have absorbed the values of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law, and the more successful BSA will be in accomplishing its mission.

So how do we get more youth to be active in BSA programs, and how do we get them to stay active in those programs longer?  Another simple equation:  All recruiting into the Boy Scouts of America is by local units and the adult volunteers and youth in those units.  All retention of youth members is by local units.  The more units that have high quality programs, the more members we will recruit and the longer those members will stay -- resulting in more youth being "Prepared for Life."

Bottom line:  The degree to which the Boy Scouts of America is successful in its mission is in direct proportion to how many of its units have high quality programs. 

If you want the Boy Scouts of America to produce more great citizens who live the values of the Scout Oath and Law, then expanding the number of high quality unit programs is what you have to care about and what you have to convince your fellow volunteers to care about.  It all starts in our own units, but it doesn't stop there.

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3 hours ago, John-in-KC said:

No it’s not.  BSA uses a licensing (chartering) System. The license includes the duty to select best qualified candidates for adult leadership. Voting leaders generally doesn’t get us the best, rather the most popular. 

IMO, a typical, non-engaged  CO is less effective in selecting troop leadership than engaged parents.

My $0.02 

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8 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

IMO, a typical, non-engaged  CO is less effective in selecting troop leadership than engaged parents.

My $0.02 

Personally, I'd rather see couples get engaged before they become parents. ;)

Edited by David CO
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I see both sides of this discussion.

Nobody wants to volunteer if they're going to be tested and quizzed and have to fill out reports. The other side is we have little improvement in scouters, a few that bring horror stories to this forum, and a continual erosion of the methods of scouting.

There is always a tension between a teacher and student. What one wants and needs is not always the same thing. The same thing applies to SM and scout. But there's no teacher for the SM as student. (I suppose it should be the commissioner but in reality it isn't.) But maybe the teacher-student dynamic is the wrong one for a volunteer organization. How about the ideal SM-scout dynamic? It has to be fun for the scout. It has to give the scout more responsibility as he can handle it - what someone called distancing or working oneself out of a job. The scout should also be given bigger challenges so things don't get stale. The SM should also have fun and be fulfilled while working with the scout, so he wants to keep volunteering.  

So, how about showing the SM how to do this by putting him in the position of youth and having a mentor work with him? Keep it fun. Keep it challenging. Give the "youth" more responsibility as he's able and willing. Cheer him on. Celebrate the wins. Help them through failures.

And, getting back to what @qwazse said, start with a giant carrot. (How to make round table fun?) Maybe the best way to remove the really bad apples is to worry less about them and work to improve those in the middle. Make it easier for scouts to walk to the better troops.

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13 hours ago, ParkMan said:

Why would volunteers want to be part of a system where they are getting assessed and graded for what they do.  No thanks on that one.

Second - The BSA already has all kinds of systems in place to assist units.  The biggest problem is that many areas don't utilize them well.  So, I'm not sure why we'd want to invent another.

 

1 hour ago, MattR said:

Nobody wants to volunteer if they're going to be tested and quizzed and have to fill out reports. The other side is we have little improvement in scouters, a few that bring horror stories to this forum, and a continual erosion of the methods of scouting.

Feedback is a gift, they tell us in Wood Badge.  This is about the youth in our programs, and whether they are getting what the Boy Scouts of America has promised them -- what we, as the unit Scouters who signed them up, promised them.  With keeping our promise on the line, what unit Scouter would not want to receive objective feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their unit program?

I'm for any system or process that motivates or inspires Scouters to focus on improving the quality of unit programs.  How do we fix the failure to properly implement the systems already in place to assist units?  If that failure can be fixed, why hasn't it been fixed already?  Because (it seems to me) the systems we have in place right now -- like most of the suggestions in this thread -- are variations on, "Gee, maybe we should talk to the leaders who aren't taking training and aren't going to roundtable and aren't trying to implement the program as written."  One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

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4 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

Feedback is a gift, they tell us in Wood Badge.  This is about the youth in our programs, and whether they are getting what the Boy Scouts of America has promised them -- what we, as the unit Scouters who signed them up, promised them.  With keeping our promise on the line, what unit Scouter would not want to receive objective feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their unit program?

I'm for any system or process that motivates or inspires Scouters to focus on improving the quality of unit programs.  How do we fix the failure to properly implement the systems already in place to assist units?  If that failure can be fixed, why hasn't it been fixed already?  Because (it seems to me) the systems we have in place right now -- like most of the suggestions in this thread -- are variations on, "Gee, maybe we should talk to the leaders who aren't taking training and aren't going to roundtable and aren't trying to implement the program as written."  One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

I'm a huge believer in the idea that improving unit programs is one of the best things we can do to grow Scouting.  Good programs grow and attract more Scouts.  

I do think the BSA could set a little higher bar for Scouters.  Require basic training for example.  But, I don't see that creating an audit or accreditation process for units would be well received or have the desired results.  Who would conduct these?  Would the be subjective or objective?  What would happen if a unit didn't implement the findings?

Before we jump to a solution, I think we have to understand why it's happening in the first place.  My belief is that the reason we are seeing some of the unit stories we are is because of the growing isolation of units.  The decline of the district concept is causing units to operate more and more in a vacuum.  In that vacuum some units thrive - but others falter. 

As I've thought through the problem, I think solving the lack of a solid support structure for units is the first step.  So, rather that create some new bureaucracy to audit Scouters & units, I think the BSA would be better served by focusing on developing working district teams.  Bring back roundtable, bring back local training, bring back district advancement teams that support unit advancement, etc.  Create a real commissioner corps that serves as the conduit for information between the district/council & the unit.  Instead of relying on District Executives to be the front line for Scouting - develop that in a Commissioner staff again.

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5 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

 

With keeping our promise on the line, what unit Scouter would not want to receive objective feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their unit program?

 

Just about all of them.

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38 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

Then they'll just have to suck it up.

Nope. They can just ignore the district and council leaders, just like most of us are already doing. 

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