Category: Training Strategies

Creating Organizational Change: Staff Engagement

Change is hard. As we covered last week, we cannot just make program changes – we have to change the processes and procedures as well. None of those changes will make any difference if our staff don’t see the value of the new way of doing things.

You can, in some limited ways over a specific period of time, make someone do something. However, you will spend a lot of time monitoring them and enforcing change, and the quality of their work will suffer dramatically. In this scenario, everyone works harder for an inferior output. Plus, everyone feels put out at the end of the day.

It is much more efficient in the short term and the long term (and more in the spirit of wraparound) to spend a little extra time getting everyone on board with the change. Our staff don’t go into social work and mental health for the glory or the riches – they do it because they genuinely care about kids and families. If you can show them that your proposed change increases outcomes (ideally while decreasing some part of their own work over time), they will be excited. If you cannot say that the change increases outcomes or efficiency, then why are you doing it?

Engaging staff to a change isn’t just about getting them excited for the new way of doing things – it is also about overcoming their fear of change. What is there to fear? That the new way won’t work, or that they specifically won’t be able to do it. That it is going to be really hard, or require a lot more time. That their families/partnering agencies/whomever won’t want to make the change.

Org Change Barriers

We can deal with each of these, but only if we recognize the source. Fear of failure should be meet with scaffolding, skills building, intensive training, and ongoing support. Give your staff permission to fail sometimes little while they are learning. If possible, take a little pressure off them by reducing their caseload or holding off adding new families until they feel comfortable.

A concern that the new way won’t work is a different issue. Extensive coaching won’t help. What will help is research, specific examples or case studies, testimonies from families and staff who have experienced the new way, and other “proofs” of efficacy.

Regardless of what specifically your staff are worried about, it is a good idea to spend a little time explaining how the new practice will be the same or less work, or how you have reduced their workload to make up for the extra. No one will be excited about a process that requires more work without creating time for it. You should also help them understand what is in it for each of their partnering agencies so that they can get their team on board.

Fear of change can take a lot of forms. Resistance to the change. Checking out mental from meetings about it, or responding angrily. Public acceptance mixed with privately continuing in the old ways. Any of these can severely inhibit your change process – including impacting new staff as they come on board.

Real change can only happen with staff participation. Take the time to get them on board – it will be more than worth it.

Our Youth Support Partner Textbook is Here

Youth Support Partners (YSP) can add an incredible amount of value to a program. They can reach kids who are otherwise unreachable, and create family and youth engagement at unparalleled rates. Youth Support Partners do a lot of things that are similar to what Family Support Partners do, and they also have some overlap with Wraparound Facilitators. However, they have their own discreet set of primary responsibilities.

The Youth Support Partner Textbook is the very first High Fidelity Wraparound textbook specifically tailored to the Youth Support Partner Role. It contains everything a YSP needs to go from a brand new staff member to a certified professional.

YSP Cover

The textbook contains the same integrated Foundations of Wraparound training material as our Wraparound Facilitator and Family Support Partner books – this allows coaches to train everyone together, which creates the best flexibility and team environment. The YSP Textbook also contains YSP specific shadowing and behavioral rehearsal exercises after the appropriate chapters, and a certification manual specific to the YSP role in the appendices. Like all of our books, it is designed to work with a trainer in a small or larger class, or one on one with a coach.

We are so excited to be able to offer this tangible support to communities everywhere who are making this important step towards fidelity. Youth Support Partners are part of the future of wraparound, and this book can help you make them a reality for your program.

Group Coaching: Evaluating your Learning Organization

Group coaching is an incredibly important part of building a healthy wraparound agency. However, it can only work when you have established the groundwork for it. Ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Is your agency a “safe space” for sharing, learning and growing, or does it tend to be more negative or punitive?
  2. Does everyone expect to keep learning or growing, or is that just something new staff do?
  3. Do your staff understand the basics of non-evaluative brainstorming?

If the answer to any of these is no, you have some work to do before group coaching can really work. That’s not to say you have to wait – you just need to be actively working on and compensating for the areas of your learning organization that aren’t developed yet.

Group Coaching

Learning organizations are full of people who want to keep learning and growing – who see that growth as an essential part of their jobs. When everyone keeps learning, then learning isn’t stigmatized as a mark of incompetence, and real sharing can happen.

For example, non-evaluative brainstorming is an important part of group learning. We want everyone to be able to share all of their ideas without fear of reprisal or judgment. What does that look like? We will cover that next week (or we cover it in-depth in our Coaching Textbook).

Why do Group Coaching?

Group coaching can be tricky. It is easy to get bogged down in the minutia of agency changes, specific family or system partner challenges, and day to day business. It is, after all, much easier to bond over common struggles than it is to make positive changes.

This is a tremendous waste of opportunity. We all need to regularly review what we know, refine our learning, and add new craft knowledge. We all need to be reenergized and reinvigorated from time to time.  We could all use more chances to teach and learn from our fellow staff members. Group coaching lets us do all of this – but only if we approach it the right way.

Consider this: you have a staff member who has been really struggling to work with a particular case worker. She has tried everything she can think of, and is getting really frustrated. You have tried to help, but are out of ideas. You have three choices:

  1. Tell her just to deal with it, and let everyone’s moral drop a little while they gossip around the office about that case worker and the struggles of providing wraparound.
  2. Address it in a group meeting by letting everyone complain together – increasing group bonding but undermining self-efficacy.
  3. Address it is a group meeting in a solutions focused manner that gives everyone a chance to brainstorm together, bringing the problem back to the process at the same it.

Obviously, option three is the way to go. It fosters bonding, the sharing of ideas, and the group wide development of craft knowledge. We offer a lot of specifics for how to do this in our Coaching Textbook, but we will cover the basics next week.

What Do Coaches Do?

There are just a few spots left for our next national Coaching Workshop on November 16 – November 19, 2015, in beautiful Red Rocks, Colorado. We all know that coaches are important, but what exactly can a good, certified coach do? A lot – here are some examples directly from our Coaching curriculum:

  • Ensure that the agency is providing high fidelity, best practices wraparound, including.
  • Develop a process for selecting the right people to provide wraparound. Picking the right staff can be very important to continuity, overall staff satisfaction, and resource management.
  • Provide high quality initial orientation and one-on-one small group training or larger group training for new staff. This negates the need for outside trainers or expensive workshops, and gets all new staff started the right way as soon as possible.
  • Use shadowing, behavioral rehearsals, and live coaching to help staff reach and maintain fidelity quickly.
  • Do ongoing assessment of staff learning and wraparound style professional development plans.
  • Help create and grow a learning organization.
  • Create a peer-to-peer learning system that harnesses the sharing that is already happening.

Having good internal coaches can make a system work in a self-sustainable way. This workshop teaches the tools you need to be the kind of coach who makes a difference in your agency.  This 4-day wraparound coach training teaches a competency-based process for supporting staff to provide high fidelity wraparound.

You can read more about it, as well as register, here.

Engagement: Just as Important for Staff

We know that we have to engage families with the wraparound process. The connection between engagement and success have been clearly demonstrated, and I don’t think anyone seriously believes you can skimp on engagement and have the process work any longer. This is true in part because we are asking the families involved to make hard changes.

You know what else is hard? For a seasoned mental health professional to switch to the wraparound mindset, or for a facilitator fresh out of school to learn to work with families in the wraparound way.

Wraparound requires a lot of new thinking on the part of practitioners, and that shift can be very difficult. It is scary to do something that is contrary to everything you have ever done, or been taught. That is why wraparound training has to start with engagement.

In this specific case, we mean engagement with the promise of wraparound. You have to take the time to get your new staff excited about the possibilities. We know that wraparound can make a critical difference for families. Your staff need to know that, too.

And it’s not enough to know it, they have to feel it, to believe it.  There are several ways to do that. Two of our favorites are to start training with:

  • A real life story from a family for whom wraparound made the difference (preferable deliver by the family)
  • A polarity exercise, where the class evaluates the outcomes for a family given services as usual, and then given wraparound style planning (this is how we start teaching wraparound in our Foundations textbook)

These things take time, but they set the stage for new staff to be excited about doing wraparound. This excitement is critical: when the staff member is alone in the field, and things get hard, you need them to really believe this is the best way. Otherwise, human nature says they will revert to what they know.

Our Next Coach Workshop is Scheduled

We have spent a lot of time talking about the importance of coaches to reaching and maintaining fidelity in wraparound. That is because having your own certified coach(es) is the number one simplest, quickest, most cost effective way to increase the quality of services your agency provides.

Having certified coaches in house is also good for staff good for the individual coaches, and good for the learning organization.

We are happy to announce that we have scheduled our next national coach training at beautiful Red Rocks, Colorado. We will be gathering up an coming coaches from around the country from November 16-19. We would love to have you join us.

You can read more about the workshop, as well as register, here:  Coaching Workshop 2015.

How are you setting the tone?

You’ve carefully selected new staff members that you think will be a good fit for the job and your agency culture. They are excited and anxious to start. Too often, they walk in the first day and are plopped down in a painful training or worse, in front of videos or binders, and told to learn what they need to know.

The message is clear – training is something to be endured so you can get to the real work.

Here’s the problem: high fidelity wraparound is difficult to do at first, and very different from other kinds of behavioral health services. When your new staff don’t engage with the material, they will end up going out and doing… whatever they already know how to do. Case workers will do modified case management, therapists will conduct modified therapy, and juvenile justice workers… you get the picture. What none of these people will be doing is wraparound.

So what should happen on those first days? You need an orientation process that does a few key things:

  1. Gets everyone excited about wraparound and about the agency
  2. Makes it very clear that wraparound is different from services as usual, and that this is a good thing for families!
  3. Gives them a foundation for learning wraparound, introducing things like the Theory of Change, the principles, and the action steps, in a way that makes holistic sense.

In our textbooks, we start with a polarity exercise. Simply put, the exercise helps students come to the conclusion for themselves that wraparound offers hope to families that traditional approaches cannot. Then we spend some time reviewing the basics.

What do you do during orientation to help get your new staff excited and on board with wraparound?

Debriefing: A Critical Step to Learning and Change

We know that it is important to provide staff with a variety of learning opportunities. Shadowing, formal instruction, group work, critical thinking exercises, behavioral rehearsals, and live coaching are some of the many ways to help the lesson stick and real skills develop. But what really makes or breaks those activities (in terms of long term learning) is not the activity itself, but how you debrief it.

Multiple research studies show that debriefing can be at least as important as preparation and the actual observation to long term learning.  Two key aspects of debriefing are building self-efficacy and a strengths-based approach by addressing the things that went well and by problem solving things that could have been done better. Other research shows that observers transfer learning better if they are asked to explain how the model addressed theory components and principles.  In addition, when the debriefing ties the actions back to theory and principles, the observer is able to use the learning to transfer to other activities.  This can lead to a more holistic use of wraparound theory.

That is a big jump – from seeing an activity of wraparound to applying to lessons learned across the whole process. This move to generalization is exactly what we want from our staff. How exactly should we be debriefing in order to get these benefits?

To explore this question, we will look specifically at debriefing after shadowing. It is sometimes assumed that shadowing is primarily about getting staff to observe wraparound, but research tells us that the debriefing has at least as much impact on observational learning transfer as preparation and shadowing the activity.  Taking the time to debrief the shadowing experience is important.

debriefing steps

We want the staff to reflect on the experience and identify how the critical components were done and how effective they were.  In debriefing, start with what the observer saw and use more active listening.  The coach should actively listen to the observer before offering their own insight. It is important that we do not tell the observer what they saw, but for them to tell us what they saw.  We ask them questions so that we know they understand it because they explained it to us, not assume they understand it because we told them.

Go through the action steps, principles, and the Theory of Change. If they miss important aspects of the observation, the coach might show these again if it is a video or explain if it is not. While it is better for the observer to see and comment on their own, coach observations can bridge learning gaps. Then the coach might ask very specific debriefing questions on the areas identified as critical in preparation.

One of the things about overall information processing is that better learning occurs when connected to things we already know.   Instead of shadowing being a random collection of new thoughts, making the shadowing experience fit into things already known will improve coding, storage, connections, and observational learning. Help the learner specifically connect this new knowledge back to things they already know.

The last thing is identify some challenges, some things that did not work in this situation, ways the observer might use or do this activity differently based on their own style, or with another family who presents a different set of challenges.   These would all create an opportunity for brainstorming, problem solving, and critical thinking.  Not only has the person learned from the shadowing experience, but they have thought about how to use the shadowing experience in other experiences in the future. Have critical thinking questions ready to prompt this deeper thinking (our textbooks include critical thinking questions for all of our activities to help facilitate this process).


The New Foundations of Wraparound Workshop

We have done a lot of wraparound trainings, both as a company and as individual professionals. From the thousands of staff we’ve trained (many of whom we were able to track to find out what they actually took from the training into their work with families through their certification process), we have learned a lot about how adults learn, and what kinds of techniques on our end create results. At the end of the day, a training is only worth the change it creates in actual practice. We are proud to say that our new Foundations training is the best it has ever been.

Our Foundations training is the first level of wraparound training for any wraparound staff. It is designed to teach Wraparound Facilitators, Family Support Partners, and Youth Support Partners how to do their jobs. However, it is equally beneficial to anyone who will be working in or closely with wraparound (like coaches, supervisors, project managers, and key partners). The training takes place over four days. There are two days of training, then a break in which staff work with families and accomplish specific tasks. A few weeks later, we hold the third and fourth days of training. We individualize each training to the agency it is held for, but the basic training schedule looks like this:

training schedule

The morning of the first day emphasizes the theory and major components of wraparound (the history, principles, phases and activities, theory of change, and staff roles), while creating excitement for the possibilities of the wraparound process. Starting the afternoon of the first day, we focus on the specific activities of wraparound, explaining them in terms of what actually happens, strategies for success, common challenges and solutions, and how they fit into the larger process. We focus on why wraparound works and practical advice for how to actually do wraparound. This combination of detailed skills and general understanding sets wraparound practitioners up for maximum success working with real families.

We break training up for a few important reasons. First, it is very difficult for many staff to sit through four days of training all at once. Not only do they not usually enjoy the experience, but they don’t learn very much from the third and fourth days. By breaking up the training this way, we see a marked increase in retention. Second, adults learn better when they have time to process and use new information. Having them take a few weeks to try out the information they learned in the first part of training allows them to turn that information into long term memory. When they come back for the second half, they are ready to add new information to what they already know. Third, the Strengths, Needs, and Culture Discovery (SNCD) is the foundation of high fidelity wraparound. You simply cannot do high fidelity wraparound without solid SNCDs.  Covering the SNCDs in depth during the second day, having staff do an SNCD during the break, and then reviewing, improving, and using those SNCDs during the third day gives staff the best chance of learning how to do one well.

A key difference between our program and many others is that we do initial training of all the key positions together. This is intentional, and serves several purposes. First, Wraparound Facilitator and Support Partners have overlapping jobs. Since this is true, they need to be trained together. You can read more about this here.

Our Foundations training is built on the idea that people learn best when things are presented in a format that makes sense to them. With a large group of people, you will probably have many different learning styles represented. This is why we use a mixture of lecture, visuals, group work, solitary reflection, video clips, physical activities, and group discussion to cover the material. This results in the highest possible training transfer average across the group. You can read more about this here.

When you are getting started (either with wraparound in general or with high fidelity wraparound from “wraparound style”), you can and should have a big class to get everyone on the same page (we help agencies do this all the time).  But when you have the ongoing trickle of new staff starting in ones and twos, you need a curriculum designed to teach High Fidelity Wraparound in this format. It is with this reality in mind that we created our new textbooks. Our new textbooks were designed with two goals: to help agencies get new staff to fidelity quickly, understanding the constraints they were likely to be operating under, and to disseminate a variety of new information we have learned about the wraparound process through our implementation research. The textbooks work well for large and small groups, but they are designed for certified coaches to take 1-3 staff through. You can read more about them here.

As I’ve said, we are very proud of our new Foundations training. But we don’t want to mislead you into thinking that training alone can ever be enough. The goal of training is to impact what staff actually do with families. We know that most trainings average between 5 and 10% (putting the learning to work). Even the best trainings like ours only result in a 35% transfer. The difference between a well trained staff with high fidelity to the model and a poorly trained, unhappy, unsuccessful staff is quality coaching. Coaching can take that 35% to 90%. You can read more about the difference certified coaches make here.

We primarily train the Foundations curriculum on site across the country – we are always interested in discussing new contracts. But we only come in once we have an exit plan. The idea is for agencies and communities to be able to sustain wraparound for themselves, not to create a dependency on outside help. The same is true when we teach open enrollment workshops. If this sounds like the direction you want to head, feel free to start a conversation with us.

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