A few weeks ago I wrote a post about priorities at camp and in life (you can see that here) and I thought that I would expand on that a little bit.
I’ve noticed over the years that the staff don’t always know what the Camp Director’s daily priorities are (I mean, beyond the obvious health, safety, and well being of the campers and staff) or how their their leaders prioritize things.
I know that when I was a first year counsellor I had no sweet clue what my director’s priorities were… or even what they really did all day…
And I’ve had that question asked to me by staff over the years “so… like… what do you DO all day?” – if I’m asked that question it is definitely a wake up call that I am not communicating effectively.
(ALTHOUGH I wrote the draft of this post before I listened to the Camp Code Podcast # 15 – Building Your Summer Camp Leadership Team, and Ruby Compton said something that really struck me. She said that the job of a camp director is to run things so smoothly that people DO ask, “what do you do all day?”, and compared it to her former role as a sound tech for live theatre … listen to the podcast, she explains it so much better than me. BUT it really got me thinking and has definitely changed my perspective on that question! I’m going to have to spend some time with it and let it swirl around in my head a little bit, but I’m very intrigued by this new perspective. )
So my ACD and I sat down and came up with a short exercise to do with our head counsellors (who make up our leadership team, they would be considered “mid- level managers” in a typical organization structure) to help them understand how we prioritize, and then move the conversation into delegating and why it’s important.
It’s just a brief 20 minute exercise, we give them a typical ‘to-do’ list from a day at camp and get them to prioritize it, when they’re just about done and have their wonderful organized list, we throw them a curveball. They then have to re- prioritize and delegate some of the work.
This little exercise accomplishes a few things:
- Helps them understand what we’re up to on a daily basis and helps explain why we might not be at a program or why they haven’t seen much of us on a particular day
- Opens the conversation of “hey guys, no matter how long my task list is, the campers and staff are my priority. I can always make room in my schedule to help you out with something. Sometimes if you pop in the office needing to chat, I might ask that we get together in half an hour, not because I don’t think it’s important, but because I need to get payroll in first.”
They totally get that. (Especially since payroll is always at the top of their priority list in the activity. haha)
- It opens up the conversation of delegation, why it’s important and how to properly do it. (sigh, it’s something I regularly struggle with… there’s always room for improvement) And some areas where they can delegate to the counsellors they’re working with.
- It gives them a glimpse into the type of tasks they’ll be responsible for as they move up the ranks, and gives them an idea of how they will be expected to prioritize their day – which is super valuable (and incidentally, something they also touch on in the Camp Code podcast I mentioned earlier!)
So there ya have it. Our little activity that helps our leadership team understand how we prioritize our daily camp life. It’s quick and easy, but it’s made a significant change in our team dynamic because it really helps when people actually understand what you’re doing with your time.
How do you talk to your staff about priorities? Tell me about it in the comment section below.