Supporting Frontline Staff

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“Successful nonprofit managers build an atmosphere of trust, allowing staff to feel empowered, valued and supported. Fulfilled employees are easier to manage and have overall higher job satisfaction. The manager needs to actively set the tone for employee interactions and job success.”

Miki Markovich, Demand Media 

Designing, building, and sustaining an effective fatherhood program depends on various factors. The role played by direct service staff in their daily work with fathers is one of these important factors. While the job is so central to program success, it can be very demanding and stressful. Hiring qualified staff and providing training is important, as is ongoing support and training.

Tips & Best Practices

  • Encourage peer learning. Having facilitators observe one another during group sessions and meeting regularly to debrief, share challenges, and discuss techniques can be a valuable way to build teamwork and strengthen skills. Some programs conduct job shadowing or mentoring so new staff can learn from more experienced colleagues.
  • Recognize the emotional demands of direct service. Reflective supervision acknowledges the emotional impact of the work and seeks to build employees’ ability to continue. This process incorporates motivational interviewing skills (ability to listen, wait, and discover solutions, concepts, and perceptions on their own without interruption or suggestion).
  • Understand the benefit of reflective supervision. With reflective supervision, supervisors teach and guide staff, providing nurture and support. Supervisors should integrate emotion and reason into their interactions with colleagues. This can include asking staff questions that gather details about their work and being aware of any emerging issues with clients. Supervisors should also pay attention to establish consistent meetings and meeting times. All of these forms of reflective supervision can allow supervisors to form trusting relationships with their staff.
Spotlight On
The Engaging Fathers Project

Engaging Fathers Logo

The Engaging Fathers project was a collaboration between the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) and the Fathers and Families Center (FFC) in Indianapolis. The project was one of four funded by the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC NRF) to explore models for systemic collaboration between fatherhood programs and the child welfare system. FFC had a full-time staff person onsite at the Marion County DCS office to serve as the initial contact for non-resident fathers, help them navigate the child welfare and court systems, and pr

FAQS

What is an example of peer learning?

Having facilitators observe one another during group sessions and meeting regularly to debrief, share challenges, and discuss techniques can be a valuable way to build teamwork and strengthen skills. Some programs conduct job shadowing or mentoring so new staff can learn from more experienced colleagues.

How can a program recognize the emotional demands of direct service?

​​​​​​Reflective supervision acknowledges the emotional impact of the work and seeks to build employees’ ability to continue. This process incorporates motivational interviewing skills (ability to listen, wait, and discover solutions, concepts, and perceptions on their own without interruption or suggestion).

What is the benefit of reflective supervision?

  • With reflective supervision, supervisors:
    • Form trusting relationships
    • Establish consistent meetings and meeting times
    • Ask questions that gather details about work and emerging issues with clients
    • Teach and guide
    • Nurture and support
    • Integrate emotion and reason
  • Current: Step 1/3
  • Step 2/3
  • Step 3/3
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