In a voluntary Movement, recruitment and retention of leaders is of vital importance, but too often Group Scout Leaders think only in terms of recruitment. In fact, The Scout Association as a whole has few recruitment problems - something like 10,000 new leaders join annually and approximately the same number leave. Clearly, if only half of the leavers could be retained the number of adult leaders would double in ten years.
It is all the more important because a proportion of the leavers are new leaders who have served for a comparatively short time: usually less than six months. Therefore, in examining the question of motivation it is worthwhile considering not so much how adults may be motivated to become leaders, but rather how they may be motivated to remain so.
Motivators include such things as:
- Personal growth
Hygiene factors - feelings of dissatisfaction from things like:
- Poor working conditions
- Lack of personal support
- Lack of practical support
- Poor administration
- Poor inter-personal relationships
- Lack of training
Poor hygiene factors can eliminate motivation but good ones cannot, of themselves, motivate. For example, a Cub Scout Leader may gain satisfaction from developing good Pack programmes but motivation will evaporate if the Group Scout Council never has any money to buy the necessary equipment; an Assistant Leader's enthusiasm will disappear if there is no involvement in programme planning and implementation; a new Leader may not get satisfaction from the job because training has not been provided, and so on.
It is fair to say that most Leaders new to Scouting start from a position of high motivation - a desire to help young people achieve their full potential. Such motivation must be maintained by ensuring that their work is recognised, that they are given responsibility and allowed to grow as adults. This motivation must not be diminished by failure to support them, to provide the equipment they need and an atmosphere of good relationships and friendship within which to operate.
Here’s a great checklist to help you get started:
- Be motivated yourself – it’s infectious!
- Find out what fires people up
- Set them an interesting challenge
- Treat people with respect
- Listen to them
- Let them do it their way
- Allow them to learn from mistakes
- Celebrate achievement and success.
One of the most important elements in motivating people is building an environment that celebrates success, so celebrating success is important. Consider starting meetings by taking a quick opportunity to mention some of the successes and praises since the last time you met and make sure that credit is going where credit is due.
Here is the tricky part, try not to over flatter, over celebrate, or be too cliché. Many times just mentioning the specific success and a small piece of why it was successful is the perfect amount. People know when you are flattering them so make sure you are being authentic about your recognition, so:
- Mark major success with an event
- Tell everyone why their part is vital
- Talk through what went well
- Get a good photo of the team
- Publicise success internally and externally
- Get a thank you from the DC, CC, UK Chief Commission or Chief Scout!
- Remember that treats are always welcome
- Look forward to the next success.
Probably the greatest support you can provide is advice. Being approachable when someone has questions is something that people will appreciate most. Remember that you don’t need to know the answer to everything. Helping others explore their question or problem, explaining where to find the information, and allow them to come up with a solution with which you are both happy. This is a far more valuable way of giving advice than just telling someone what to do.
Adults should be confident that their views will be passed on, and listened to at the appropriate level.
Encouragement and Motivation
Recognition of people’s successes, guidance on how to overcome difficulties, and backing people up in difficult situations will do a lot to build confidence. Think about how you encourage others. Try to make sure you do it regularly, appropriately and in informal settings. The odd word at the end of a meeting or the occasional phone call to see how it’s going and pass on good comments can achieve this. Some of the things that will help encourage and motivate people include:
- Feeling that you care
- Knowing that you believe they can achieve what’s needed
- Seeing that you will support them
- Agreeing achievable goals
- Being genuine with praise
- Focusing on positives.