“What is effective supervision and guidance?” A young colleague who was supporting the youth leaders of our outdoor adventure club realised that it is not just giving instructions and expecting those listening to simply follow. Having observed how much effort the leaders had been putting into organising an “Amazing Race,” she was concerned that they would be deeply discouraged if the event did not turn out as planned. So, she gathered them a day before and went through the programme flow meticulously.
When she arrived at the starting point of the race the following day, she was upset with what she saw. There was no wet weather plan, and little was being done to engage participants before the race was flagged off. In her mind, the leaders simply did not bother taking her good advice and it showed on her face. Thankfully, she kept her feelings in check and tried to recognise what was going right.
The leaders had arrived way ahead of the reporting time and the event was well attended. Everyone present was in good spirits and seemed very comfortable in each other’s company. The leaders took on their roles seriously and were visibly being very supportive of each other. They were cheerful, confident and had the cooperation of participants. As the day proceeded, my colleague was amazed at how everything fell in place and concluded that the event was a success even before it ended.
As she reflected on her experience, she conceded that the event was none the worse without a wet weather plan and icebreakers. She was upset because she had believed that if established good practices in event management were not adhered to, the event would fail. Also, she had imagined that the young people were not listening to her. However, when she sent a congratulatory message to the overall-in- charge after the event, here is what came back, “Hey! Your nagging is okay because I learnt a lot. Being overall ic is not easy but you gave me advice and I tried my best. Happy it was a success. I did listen to you. You’re the best.”
I had a short conversation with my colleague about her experience yesterday and here are some thoughts that emerged. Firstly, we should let the young people we are supervising know that getting frustrated and discouraged when things do not go well is understandable and even natural. Then we must take the view that supervision or guidance is not just about picking out what went wrong but about exploring what could go right. As such, if we have a role in developing human potential, we must have the ability to interpret a situation in a way that takes things forward. We must focus on what people can do and put them in a context where they can experience success. This is a context where what they cannot do matters less.
Enjoy your week.
Concern yourself more with accepting responsibility than with assigning blame. Let the possibilities inspire you more than the obstacles discourage you. -Ralph Marston