It’s not often that we make blanket statements about what agencies need. Everyone and every place are different. But every agency who is going to provide quality MiiWrap (or Wraparound) needs at least one, if not multiple, certified coaches. Of the hundreds of people and programs we have worked with over the years, we have never seen even one that did a good job of providing fidelity MiiWrap (or Wraparound) without strong people in the coaching role. Think about that – not even one. Coaches are essential to good MiiWrap. They are the trainers of new staff, the upskill-ers of existing staff, the shepherds of fidelity, and the champions of learning. You need coaches. This blog covers:
- Why coaches are important
- Why they need to be YOUR coaches and not consultant coaches
- What, exactly, coaches do
- Why certifying coaches makes a big difference
In a future post, we will cover why someone might want to become a certified coach. Right now, let’s get down to business and really look at coaches as a group.
Why are coaches important?
We can learn without coaches. It takes more time, more mistakes, and more dedication. After each failure, you must pick yourself up, figure out for yourself what went wrong, and design a new plan for yourself. You might do something time and resource intensive for months or years without realizing that there is an easier way. You are reinventing the wheel day by day.
This is fine (although not the best-case scenario) if the skill you are learning is how to cook for your family, or how to knit. It is intolerable if you are trying to learn how to efficiently guide a challenging family through behavior change to help them improve their lives.
Imagine for a moment that each new MiiWrap facilitator or support partner was taught a basic MiiWrap curriculum, and then sent to work with families without any further structured guidance. They would make mistakes – lots of them. And who would suffer from those mistakes? Youth and Families. And in turn the teams of people they tried to enlist to help the youth and families. These uncoached staff would waste their own time, families’ time, natural supports’ time, and System of Care partners’ time. All these people might get frustrated and think the MiiWrap process is a waste of time. Engagement would suffer across the board. The facilitators and family support partners would get frustrated and would quit or provide mediocre services with poor outcomes.
This isn’t a worst-case scenario – it is the daily reality of agencies trying to run “MiiWrap” programs without trained coaches or providing coaches and staff the time to coach. This is an important element of coaching. Just having a coach or even a particularly good coach does not produce the expected benefit unless the coach has dedicated time to do the coaching and the staff have the time to be coached. Coaches are the bridge between staff learning about MiiWrap and becoming true MiiWrap professionals. A happy staff is a supported staff, and coaches are one of the main pillars of support. They are proven to help staff reach fidelity faster, and cheaper.
Trying to run a MiiWrap agency without enough trained coaches and enough time for these trained coaches to coach is like strapping skis on a non-skier and pushing them down a black diamond slope – they might make it down, but it won’t be pretty, and they probably won’t be in a hurry to go back up and try it again. The bottom line is, to start, sustain, and continually improve a good MiiWrap program, you need good coaches. Coaches who do their job well help agencies save money, operate efficiently, and foster a culture of continual learning, support staff satisfaction and longevity and most importantly create better outcomes for youth and families.
Why do you need your own coaches in your community?
MiiWrap program, but it’s not either an effective or efficient long-term strategy. National Experts and Consultants have their place, but they are not a coach replacement. When you are having trouble with high turnover, low training transfer, or stagnant family outcomes, you might need extra help. When you need to meet new challenges, it can be more than the MiiWrap staff and supervisors can handle. A problem shooter who has been there before can save time and money in the long run. But national consultants don’t come cheap, nor do they understand the unique needs of your community and program and are not available when staff most need them. Having a Coach on staff gives you expert attention from someone who understands local context and lets you save your consultant money for when you really need it.
An agency with its own coaches does not need outside trainers or workshops to train new staff. Staff can start training with their own coach right away and build a relationship with their coach to sustain high fidelity MiiWrap. Sustaining certified coaches makes agencies self-sufficient in their training. More specifically:
- Agency coaches can begin training new staff as soon as they start, before bad habits begin to form, and they can train other coaches and supervisors.
- Coaches can also address ongoing training challenges as well as building new initiatives.
- Coaches are always there, and they can provide continual learning and support at the agency. This increases motivation, self-efficacy, and skills in providing MiiWrap.
- Continual coaching means better agency culture and better services. Coaches provide in-house expertise and motivation to build and sustain learning communities.
- Coaches support innovation and change which helps a program meet the ever-changing needs of their community, as well as shifting funding and regulatory requirements.
- Coaches are on hand to provide problem solving to support staff and ensure that each family gets the best possible outcomes.
- Coaches help your program grow. You want to try and reach a different segment of the community. Your family outcomes are dropping, and you aren’t sure why. You are losing staff quicker than normal. Challenges and opportunities tend to be met best when they can be met right away. A coach can start researching your specific issue as soon as it is identified.
What do coaches do?
Good coaches take new staff members and turn them into MiiWrap professionals. They take average MiiWrap facilitators and support partners and turn them in to exceptional ones. The difference between a well-trained staff with high fidelity to the model and an unhappy, unsuccessful staff is quality and supportive coaching. Research shows that good coaching can more than triple the training transfer and improve staff motivation, competency, and self-efficacy. Coaches ensure that their agency is providing high fidelity, best practices MiiWrap, by doing a lot of things, including:
- Providing high quality initial orientation and taking individual or small groups of staff through the MiiWrap eLearning curriculum to quickly get them well trained and initially skilled to work with families. This negates the need for outside trainers or expensive workshops, and gets all new staff started the right way as soon as possible. These on-site coaches can also get staff trained sooner which leads to more productivity.
- Using shadowing, behavioral rehearsals, and live coaching to help staff reach and maintain fidelity quickly.
- Doing ongoing assessments of staff learning, performance and needs for improvement to support more effective professional development plans.
- Helping create and grow a learning organization in which staff support each other and there is a culture of wanting to do better, support other staff and learn better ways to help youth and families.
- Creating a peer-to-peer learning system that harnesses the sharing that is already happening (and without this support can often have a negative influence on each other).
What do coaches do?
Hopefully by now you agree with me that having your own coaches at your agency is the way to go. But you might still be asking, why should I get my coaches certified? First, let’s examine what it means to certify a coach.
Certified coaches have completed the Foundations of MiiWrap curriculum and have mastered the skills and content of MiiWrap. They have also completed a coaching course that teaches them how to train others in MiiWrap, including initial training, shadowing, debriefing, behavioral rehearsals, live coaching, group coaching, and many other coaching specific skills. This course (our Coach Workshop) has them create their own materials and plans as they go, so from day one they are prepared to start coaching. As certified coaches, they have the right to take learners through our training programs, and access to many supplemental materials never available to the public. They also join a large community of fellow certified coaches with whom to share ideas, resources and support (which can be particularly helpful for small programs with one or two coaches).
So, certified coaches are trained MiiWrap professionals who have been taught to coach MiiWrap to fidelity and have an arsenal of people and resources to call upon in that endeavor. There are a lot of reasons you should want a certified coach at your agency – here are our top six. Having certified coaches:
- Improves the overall quality of services and outcomes — Effective coaching is critical to reaching and maintaining fidelity of services, which in turn directly impacts the outcomes that can be achieved. Research shows that even the best training only results in 30% of the change needed to provide truly effective MiiWrap. The rest is achieved through good coaching and supervision. Without good coaching, MiiWrap staff settle into what is comfortable for them which is generally not the most effective practice. Coaches not only make fidelity possible over the long term, but they also make it happen much quicker. Research shows that good coaching can reduce the time for new staff to reach fidelity by almost 50% which improves the overall fidelity and outcomes of the program even more. Certified coaches have access to and are trained to use our system, certification materials, and process to get your agency to fidelity.
- Helps you keep your best staff and reduces general turnover — What makes staff stay in a highly demanding job like MiiWrap? Job satisfaction, being valued for what they do, and continually getting better. These are the outcomes of effective coaching. In addition, the chance for growth and promotion will be important to many staff. Promoting your best staff to coaches gives them something to strive for and helps them spread their craft knowledge. Having a cadre of good coaches improves the quality of care (increasing everyone’s self-efficacy) and makes the agency a nicer place to work.
- Strengthens the learning organization — Coaches become leaders in and champions of the learning organization. The learning organization creates the organizational climate that makes the program a good place to work, creates passion and commitment to the job and the team of people providing MiiWrap at the agency, supports continual learning and innovation, and serves to identify and implement the organizational change needed to support continually improving MiiWrap.
- Saves money — Reducing staff turnover, decreasing mistakes, sharing knowledge efficiently: on the most basic level, all these things result in less money spent to achieve the same (or better) outcomes for families. Certifying coaches might be one of the smartest financial decisions your agency could make.
- Creates more effective and satisfied coaches — Coach certification includes extensive training in the functions and craft knowledge of effective coaching. It teaches coaches and supervisors how to be the driving force in creating a strong learning organization and the skills and craft knowledge to provide the hands-on training to bring out the best in the staff they coach. This builds self-awareness and self-efficacy for supporting staff growth and organizational change.
- Connects you to MiiWrap across the country — MiiWrap coaches are linked to other certified coaches across North America, providing a network of experienced problem solvers with unique experiences.