Coaching is an opportunity for the youth workers – those volunteering or working in our youth projects and girls’ clubs – to be heard and supported.
Coaching is a partnership
Coaching should be thought-provoking and creative, inspiring youth workers to maximise their personal and professional potential. This should be led by the youth worker. This can be tricky in our African contexts, where we often defer to authority. The coach is not an authority. They are there to listen to the youth worker, who chooses what is and isn’t discussed.
The youth worker should be encouraged to identify goals for her youth work and related personal development. She should feel able to work with her coach to understand how to plan to reach these goals.
- An open conversation between two people
- A safe space for reflection, to explore your thinking – this means that the coach won’t judge the youth worker, or give her unsolicited advice
- Solution-focused – based on where a youth worker is now and what she wants to achieve – not returning to past failures or criticisms
- Both the coach and the youth work being able to ask lots of questions
- Totally confidential (unless your coach feels you are at risk of harming yourself or others)
Why people choose to coach
We see that there is an appetite for self-improvement in many young African women, who are aware of the competition they face in the professional sphere. Helping youth workers to improve their self-awareness, even if it initially comes through the lens of their youth work, will help them to deepen their self-knowledge and skills, which can be applied in all areas of their work.
A youth worker may choose to coach to help her to:
- Work better on their own or in a team
- Improve communication skills
- Increase productivity
- Increase self-esteem/self-confidence
- Manage work/life balance (see sections on burnout above)
A coach should work to:
- Discover, clarify and align with what the youth worker wants to achieve
- Encourage the youth worker’s self-discovery
- Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
- Hold the client responsible and accountable
Are you a coach?
You may not feel like a coach, but you could become a coach. Whilst some people have professional coaching certificates and training, anyone supervising youth work is probably already acting in this capacity. You have the chance to do it better, by reflecting on these ideas.
- Do you currently offer to coach to your youth workers?
- As a youth worker, do you think you would benefit from coaching?
- What would be realistic to propose in your organisation?