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This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs in health care settings.

~September 2010~

Coaching--The Teachable Moment



I haven’t met many volunteers who purposefully come to our organizations to wreak havoc.  Volunteers generally come with a genuine heart and propose to be of assistance for the facility.  Part of the responsibility of the DVS is to provide adequate training and orientation so the volunteer can be successful.  Sometimes that means encouraging; sometimes retraining and sometimes coaching the volunteer.  How does coaching differ from training?

Coaching takes an on-going approach, helping others expand and apply skills, knowledge and ability.  Maximizing that “teachable moment,” since each situation varies, coaching involves teaching, motivating, empowering and listening to maximize another's performance.  It's important to note that sometimes coaches will be challenged by the concept that the volunteer may not want to admit ignorance or inadequacy in ability to complete volunteer tasks. 

I recently heard that you can’t coach what you don’t see.  But, as the DVS in some of the larger facilities, we can’t be everywhere.  The dilemma comes from the expectation that all volunteers report to the DVS.  In most facilities, this is just not possible.  The next time you find yourself in the mode of coaching, consider this matrix and determine your style of coaching.


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The author of the Heath Care Volunteer Programs column is Mary Kay Hood MS, Hendricks Regional Health, Danville, IN (317) 745-3556. With a BS degree in biology from Marian College and a Master of Science in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University, Mary Kay has been involved in volunteer management over twenty years with a zoo and in the health care field. During that time, she completed the Management of Volunteer Programs course offered at University of Indianapolis, several supervisory training programs as well as the Indiana Hospital and Health Association’s Management Institute offered by the Executive Education Program, School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Mary Kay served on the Nonprofit Training Center of United Way from 1993 to 2006. During that time, she taught many workshops also facilitating speaker arrangements for the Basic Volunteer Management series. Additionally, she has presented at various national and international conferences. Mary Kay served as president of the Central Indiana Association for Volunteer Administration (CIAVA) from 1993-1997 and the Indiana Society of Directors of Volunteer Services (ISDVS) from 2006-2008. She was also the recipient of the 1995 Outstanding Director of Volunteer Services Award and the 2002 United Way of Central Indiana Volunteer of the Year Award. Most recently she served on the Steering Committee for COVAA resulting in the formation of a new national membership organization for those in volunteer management, the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE). With several published articles, she is also author to two books: The One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions and The Volunteer Leader as Change Agent.

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