Since I became the Scoutmaster, I’ve asked for a LOT of help from others, especially to assist in areas that I’m not very competent in (which explains why I need so much help!) Happily, we have a large troop and I’ve a number of volunteers to draw on that are happy to assist.
I’ve noticed in my own experience that when I volunteer for a leadership position that there is often a lot of ambiguity involved in expectations. While I may have volunteered expecting to contribute x, y and z in a limited capacity, many times the leader asking me to get involved is expecting me to take over the process and contribute a,b and c. This is often caused by me not fully understanding what I’m getting myself into and not “hearing” what the leader is telling me about the job because I have preconceived ideas or notions. Also, I find that a lot of the miscommunication happens because of politeness or timidity or ignorance. I either don’t want to say no and hurt their feelings nor do I want to ask for clarification and risk looking foolish or sometimes they don’t want to tell me the full scoop because they think they might scare me off. Whatever the case, I was looking for a way to compensate for this with the people that I’m asking to help me out, by setting up a baseline for the job that I’m hoping that they’ll take over.
I put together this Troop Advisors Guide for all of my volunteers that I’ve asked to serve as a mentor or coach for the Youth Leadership within the troop. The guide covers the job responsibility of the Advisor as well as the Youth Leader, but also it covers what is expected in the term’s “Mentoring” and “Coaching” and more importantly let’s the Advisor know what is not acceptable. I also detail out a syllabus at the end that includes where all of this information came from (happily I didn’t write much of it at all!) so that the volunteer can both make sure that I know what I’m talking about, but also have a path for further training or understanding. This, of course, is no substitute for BSA training or good old fashioned one on one communication, more it is a stepping stone to both of those.
— As an aside, I have to confess that I doubt that many of my leaders actually have read this. It’s more for me than for them, to make sure that what I’m asking for is coherent and tangible and that my understanding of the process is clear, so I probably refer to it more than anyone!