The “Life Cycle in Action” in the team and organisational context
The World Adults in Scouting Policy recognises the concept of a Life Cycle in every role or function undertaken by an adult in Scouting. Adult volunteers in Scouting can play more than one role at a time, and must work together in harmony, combining their talents and competencies, to fulfil the responsibilities of those roles.
Long-term volunteers should be aware that new adults will join, and others will leave the team, from time to time, bringing diversity and new ideas, and making it crucial to keep a consistent methodology to ensure a legacy is built beyond personal skills.
AiS Life Cycle in Action
It is not easy to manage needs, expectations, and desired results. The ‘Life cycle in action’ model is a support tool for those in charge of leading adults, providing guidelines for setting up, managing and reviewing the methods and tools available for the development of the adult volunteer.
The Life Cycle in Action model identifies four main building blocks:
- Providing conditions for AiS Life Cycle implementation: Using different approaches for leading adults
- Implementing the AiS Life Cycle: Implementing individual paths
- Measuring the Impact: Reviewing the Adults in Scouting process
- Life-long Learning: Identifying areas to improve adult life cycle management
In the following presentation, each of the building blocks is presented separately.
1 Providing conditions for AiS Life Cycle Implementation
AiS Life Cycle requires certain conditions for its successful implementation. From the beginning it is important to take into consideration:
- Organisational culture,
- Information and resource management,
- Team management and engagement.
There are many effective ways of leading people, and it is good to understand the different leadership approaches and styles, and their practicalities and evolution. Applying different methods can have a substantial impact on the effective recruitment, development, and retention of adults.
Scouting should be able to provide an environment that enables personal development for all. NSOs have the responsibility to identify and address areas where their committees and other support structures reflect the composition of the local communities (e.g. different cultures, genders, age ranges, ethnicities, faiths and beliefs), and adapt their leadership strategies to address this. It is only by doing this that Scouting will truly be available and inclusive to all people, youth or adult, in each community.
The leadership approach is reflected in many aspects of the World Adults in Scouting Policy implementation. We need to be aware that both leadership and culture are intertwined: what works for one culture may not work for another. Our organisational culture is about the story of Scouting in which our members are all vested, and the values and rituals that reinforce that narrative. It has a strong influence on everyday life, for instance, a leaders’ commitment should be expressed in their normal behaviour and habits, such as their availability, punctuality, enthusiasm, and motivation of others. This is another consideration in the planning phase.
Information and Resource Management
The next layer of planning is the proper use of information and resources. When organising activities, we need information (organised in information systems), material resources (e.g. equipment and other needs), and financial resources. These require a proper management structure:
- How is useful information identified?
- Why and where is the information or resources needed?
- Who is responsible for the material resources?
- Who is in charge of approving financial resources?
Without these resources and definitions, we can’t play the ‘game of Scouting’ properly. But instead of being constrained in our ideas or imagination by limited financial and material resources, we can work with other groups or NSOs to develop and share tools.
Team Management and Engagement
Good communication is an integral part of good team management, providing an opportunity for constructive feedback, and removing hierarchical and administrative hurdles. Online tools enable a transparent exchange of information, fostering mutual respect and allowing everyone to contribute and to benefit. The same counts for the distribution and follow up of tasks where progression and results can be easily shared with the whole team. Besides online collaboration, physical meetings and participation are a dynamic way of working, building relationships, and sharing ideas in the team.
A good team management strategy allows members of the team to show and develop their talents and use their skills. It provides opportunities for them to develop competencies, track accomplishments, and be rewarded accordingly. By doing all this, we are actively supporting the retention, satisfaction and happiness of adults involved.
Again, it is important to be clear from the start what are the expectations. Conditions for AiS Life Cycle implementation should be constantly improved and revisited according to the NSO’s leadership approach.
2 Implementing the Adult Life Cycle
The approach set out in the Adult Life Cycle details the steps for a productive and rewarding path for any role or function undertaken by an adult volunteer in Scouting. It is a holistic and systematic approach that considers all aspects of managing volunteers inside the Movement. That includes attracting the necessary volunteers and supporting them in their role or function, assisting them in their personal development, and allowing them to take ownership of their roles, as well as empowering them to manage their choices for the future.
One or multiple paths of the Life Cycle cover all stages and components in the lifespan of an adult volunteering for the Scout Movement and the steps within should be considered at all times, from recruitment all the way until appraisals and retirement.
The adult Life Cycle should be clear to all volunteers, tailored to their needs and making sure all adults in Scouting are aware of their rights and responsibilities when joining the Movement. With a clear overview of the Life Cycle, volunteers can assess their personal development and create a path that allows them to feel fulfilled and supported.
3 Measuring the impact
When the planning is completed and the adult volunteer has experienced the Life Cycle, it is time to assess and understand the level of impact and the process used to measure it, so it can be shared as a good practice.
The value of this measurement process is in the learning path of each individual and the improvement of the organization/or NSO itself.
It makes the most sense as the indicators are agreed on by all stakeholders and it is not only about data collection but also the quality of the information gathered.
There are four areas of worthwhile measurement of impact:
- Individual Growth
- Team Impact
- Society Impact
- Youth Programme Delivery Impact
For every role or responsibility undertaken, an adult is trained and supported to master the relevant competencies. These competencies can be used as indicators to measure personal impact such as:
- The ability to learn and improve.
- Growth potential and the contributions delivered by the adult volunteer.
- The adult’s satisfaction partly expressed by their time serving in the role.
- Comparing the data between approaches and different adults will help learn what is more effective.
Possible guiding questions:
- Are the mutual expectations transparent and have they been agreed on by all parties?
- Are the expectations documented and available for use during performance evaluation?
- Is there a system in place to document the individual learning and compare it with earlier experiences, to assess the improvement?
When a group of individuals work closely together as a team, other success indicators can be identified. Usually the results of strong, high-quality teamwork increases the maturity of an organisation. Some examples:
- Amount of initiative a team takes showing mutual trust and collaboration.
- Degree of efficiency the team has in completing tasks showing complementarity skills.
- Degree of willingness to help and support each other towards a common goal and the outcomes of it.
Possible guiding questions:
- Does the NSO provide relevant tools and resources that allow team members to discuss and improve their performance and cooperation?
- What kind of skills can be taught and shared with the entire team?
- Does the NSO encourage teamwork and cooperation between the adults?
One of the effects of both individual and team efforts is undoubtedly the impact inside communities, amplifying good practices and behaviours beyond the internal aspect of Scouting. Possible indicators for this field are as follows:
- Attention from the local community of external stakeholders.
- Recognition of local authorities acknowledging the value of Scouting.
- impact in contributing to Vision of Scouting and Strategy for Scouting
- Public image of the Movement.
- Membership growth.
Possible guiding questions:
- Does the NSO track community engagement?
- Is there a determined goal to raise awareness of Scouting?
- Is Scouting promoted in local communities?
- Does the NSO have a partnership with local authorities and other local organisations?
- How does NSO contributing to Vision of Scouting and Strategy for Scouting
Youth Programme Delivery impact
The purpose of Adults in Scouting is to ensure quality in the delivery of Youth Programme, and not only the development of self-fulfilled empowered adults. The whole approach of the Adult Life Cycle is about training and providing the necessary skills for volunteers to be able to deliver the Youth Programme in the best way possible.
Possible guiding questions:
- Does NSO demonstrate effectiveness and efficiency in Youth Programme delivery?
- Does the NSO provide the necessary training for adults?
- Is the quality in the delivery of the Youth Programme evaluated?
- Does the NSO have the necessary number of volunteers in all areas at all levels?
Measurement Indicator Types
In addition to the four fields of impact measurement, impact can also be measured in three consecutive phases: Effort, Result and Sustainability.
Phase 1: Effort
These are the processes, individual and team activities and the broader context where effort is made and (efficiency) can be measured. Quality indicators could be accessibility of training opportunities, methods to strengthen team performance, and support to clearly express their talents in life outside Scouting. These qualitative indicators can be expressed in terms of how they relate to this incomplete list of criteria including: tailored, sufficient, correct, timely, throughput time, accessibility, … in short, ‘fit for purpose’.
Phase 2: Result
This depends largely on the effort of the individuals, teams and society. The indicators measuring results depend highly on the organisational culture, focus, values, agreements and rules. These intermediate indicators directly measure our goals and make a strong impact on the Scouting programme possible. In the result phase, for example, indicators such as satisfaction, sustainability, growth and realized projects come into play.
Phase 3: Sustainability
In the last phase we can measure sustainable impact. In the language of the World Adults in Scouting Policy this relates to volunteer satisfaction, growth, quality of their performance, etc., keeping in mind young people and their realization of the mission of Scouting. Indicators such as membership census; number of new groups; appreciation and support by parents, public and private organisations; and the quality of the Scouting experience are in place here.
4 Life-long Learning
Life-long learning analyses and addresses the continuous development of each adult as well as the team. The team setting allows adults to be inspired and provides a peer-to-peer learning atmosphere. The fast pace of learning nowadays, combined with multiple platforms of information, highlights the need to connect, co-create, co-learn and build strong networks, as a part of the adults learning path. Life-long Learning for all is the new normal.
Possible guiding questions:
- How does the NSO promote and contribute to the life-long learning of the individual and the team?
- How can potential gaps in learning and performance be identified and addressed?
- Is the NSO keeping up to date with different platforms, methods and tools?
- Does the NSO provide support, encouragement and stimulate adults to keep developing themselves?