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Communication and Delegation skills.

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A week back Eagledad said in one of his posts:


Through my years of experience, I observed the two most difficult skills for scouts to develop are "communication" and "delegation".


This is another area where the ship could use a big improvement in.


Ive been using the Ask your Boatswain (or SPL)" when I am approached with a question but it still hasnt sunk in yet.


What tips can everyone give to help scouts to develop "communication" and "delegation" skills.


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Gotta agree. Planning, communication, and delegation are difficult skills for scouts to acquire.


If you are not short-handed and the activity is in a fixed area, say meal preparation at a campsite, try this

1) SPL picks a standing (not sitting) spot from where he can see and direct.

2) draw a 3' circle about that spot. Not too large, not too small.

3) He can't leave the circle. He can call people to him but he cannot leave the circle unless it is an emergency or it is now time to eat.

4) No one can be in the circle with him for more than 30 seconds. So no hanging with the SPL, everyone works.


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If people are coming to the SM for directions, it must be adult led. It's good to delegate to the boys. However, if one delegates to the SPL, it must mean the method being used is the troop method. I would suggest the questions be sent to the PL because that's where the leadership lies within the patrol method. If everyone is avoiding their PL's then their authority is being usurped by the SPL.


Maybe the SPL should be taught the phrase, "You need to be discussing this with your PL". This way the PL's actually lead their patrols as they are supposed to be doing rather than having to turn everything over to the SPL to do.


If the PL's are running their patrols correctly, the SPL and other troop officers can be available to assist them in making sure things as a combined whole are running properly according to the way the PL's have planned it. If not, then just have the SPL do it all the way a SM does it in an adult led troop method unit. A boy led troop method should be no different. However if the unit is patrol method, then the PL's should be running their patrols.


If communication and delegation are important, it is probably a good idea to design the structure/chain of leadership according to the design of the unit.

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Yah, if yeh want patrol method to teach communication, institute a simple rule: aside from the SM minute, there is never a whole-troop announcement/mailing/etc. Ever. All information comes from the PL, always. SPL and SM always answer "I don't know" to any question from a patrol member.


I've found it's helpful to set up simple rules like this just to break the bad habits of adults. Once the rule is in place, adults have to focus much more energy on coaching the PLs on good communication skills and the SPL on delegation. And the kids are held much more accountable by everybody, eh?




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I'm not happy with the "Ask your ?" routine.

I think it sets a bad example.

I think you need to work backward.

Look for the reason why you are being asked?

Communication is the giving and receiving of information.

While I don't know! I think that the Troop Barry serves is a well established Troop where some things are well established.

Trying to play the "Ask your Boatswain" when you (The Skipper) have a fair idea that the Boatswain doesn't know the answer is just kinda silly. It does little to build up the leadership skills of the Boatswain and confuses the Scouts.

As for tips.

*Keep on keeping on reminding the Scouts that the Ship is their Ship. (Not your's!!)

*Keep reminding yourself that the Ship belongs to the Scouts.

This can be hard when things that you feel they should attend or even must attend come along. (Things like the Winter Training Weekend, Regatta??)

* Don't overload the Boatswain. He is after all only one member of the Quarterdeck. At times you might need to remind him to remind the person who is tasked with getting something done.

* Hold people responsible for doing what they are supposed to do and what they say they are going to do.

* Go back and look at the notes you took at WB!!

* Look back at how information was managed.

* Set the example by passing on (delegating) and sharing information and tasks sent to you as the Skipper. Let the QD decide what they want to participate in, have someone send out the information and get the count have the Purser collect the cash and write the check.

After the event in the Ship's Log have the Yeoman record what happened and write any letters that need to be sent. He or she might want to write something for the Ship's web site or group page?

* We the adults can pass on a lot by really listening to the Scouts, doing what we say we are going to do (Keeping promises.)

* Go out of your way to recognize Scouts who do a good job. Be sure to thank them and praise the heck out of them, both privately and in public.


One problem I see with the "Go ask your..." Is that some Scouts might feel slighted or feel that you don't care.

Trying to ensure that the information they need is at hand and is understandable (To them!!) can help a lot. So you can without sounding like a smart-Alec say "Have you checked the .. Menu, roster? Will go a long way. (Better yet if the information has been put there by a Scout !!)

None of this is going to happen overnight, it will take time and just when you think it's working a new group of Scouts will come along and ...

Good Luck!!


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Eamonn does bring up an important issue with the Boatswain/SPL. If one is using the troop method, numbers of 20+ boys is difficult for even adults to handle. It would be rather counter productive to dump on the leadership this way. With the patrol method, each PL has 6-7 boys he is responsible for. Any leader in training can handle that many. The SPL is not part of the patrol and doesn't need to know what's going on, the PL should.


When the boys come to the SM and ask questions, it means one of two things. 1) The PL isn't doing his job or 2) everyone in the troop still looks to the adults for leadership direction. Neither of which are indicative of a patrol method program. If a scout has a question and has to go to others for help, there's something wrong with the leadership training.


If delegation always comes from the SM -> SPL -> PL -> scout, then if there's a problem, just go to the source of authority for one's answer. If not like Eamonn says, pass the buck down the line.


If the delegation is PL -> scout, he has only one resource for the answer to his question, the PL. If the PL can't answer, he goes to the SPL for assistance. If the SPL can't answer he goes to the SM for assistance. The authority stays with the PL.



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