Resources in chapter Hire and Manage Staff

Tipsheet

Tips for Staffing and Managing Your Program

  1. Put time into the recruitment process to optimize the quality and quantity of candidates who apply. Get the word out well in advance, utilize a variety of job posting strategies (i.e. notice boards, social media, website, etc.), and work your contacts and networks to identify prospective candidates.
  2. Look to build a well-rounded crew with complementary qualities, skills, education and experience.
  3. When interviewing, test candidates’ suitability for the challenges of the job – things like remote work, physical demands, overtime, communicating with the public, etc.
  4. Set equitable and competitive wages similar to other employment opportunities in your community or region. If matching wages is difficult, provide other incentives and benefits to attract and keep people on.
  5. Develop an employee code of conduct and related policies to be clear about expectations, consequences and to ensure safety on the job.
  6. Provide a solid orientation for new staff that covers program goals, performance expectations, reporting, personal responsibility, safety policies and procedures, and equipment use.
  7. Meet regularly with staff to provide ongoing direction, deal with logistics, and solicit regular feedback.
  8. If you have to issue a warning or suspension for a staff member, provide them with clear terms and conditions. Document all incidents and conversations.
  9. Look to elders, community leaders or experienced staff to model expectations and provide support when issues arise or HR decisions are being made.
  10. Look to recruit a program manager with strong leadership skills who can mentor and manage staff and all other aspects of the program from program management to fundraising and communications.
Worksheet

Overview Worksheet - Hire and Manage Staff

Use this worksheet to think through how to recruit and retain a great staff team and how to get set up to manage your program well. Download it now

Tipsheet

Tips for Being a Strong Guardian Manager, Leader, and Mentor

  1. Communicate openly, respectfully, and set out clear expectations for projects, data gathering protocols, and deliverables.
  2. Debrief with your crew regularly and encourage your team to proactively voice their concerns, questions, or need for more training or information.  
  3. Prioritize and follow strict safety protocols and set clear expectations of the team to maintain a safe working environment.
  4. Be organized and expect the same of your crew.
  5. Be able to accommodate fluctuating staff needs and have backup plans (e.g., plans to keep crew busy when weather is poor, equipment needs and repair, etc.).
  6. Recognize team members for their contributions, celebrate results and success, and connect accomplishments back to the purpose of Guardian work.
  7. Know team members’ individual strengths and experience levels and encourage your team to be the best they can be and to stretch themselves in new ways. 
  8. Trust your team to take on work and new responsibilities and allow the team to make and learn from mistakes.
  9. Encourage a hands-on learning mindset and increase responsibility and delegate more as the team succeeds. 
  10. Support crew members to gain the skills they need to feel fully ready and confident to undertake the work (and watch for signs of discomfort or fear). 
  11. Provide regular training, drills, and skills refreshers. Involve the crew in work planning (e.g., understanding budgets and other constraints, safety planning, emergency procedures, etc.).


Special thanks to Nanwakolas Guardians for contributing their ideas and experience to this resource.

Tipsheet

Tips for Being a Good Guardian Crew and Team Member

  1. Bring an open and positive attitude to work and participate actively. 
  2. Communicate openly and with respect.
  3. Exercise patience with yourself and others. 
  4. Stay calm, manage emotions, and de-escalate tense situations.
  5. Share your experience and knowledge and listen to and learn from others.
  6. Communicate questions, concerns, ideas, and observations. 
  7. Identify and communicate what makes you feel motivated, excited, or inspired.
  8. Know your own as well as your team’s respective roles and responsibilities.
  9. Help to create and insist on a safe work environment by following safety protocols and emergency procedures. 
  10. Be organized and use care when observing, recording, or reporting.
  11. Know your own as well as your team’s respective skills and strengths.
  12. Recognize where you feel less confident or in need of more training or experience. 
  13. Be open to learning new things and taking on responsibility. 


Special thanks to Nanwakolas Guardians for contributing their ideas and experience to this resource.

Section: What makes a good guardian?

It makes me feel proud to be a Guardian, to hear other people recognize the beauty of my home and people always leave with a better understanding of our work, our culture, and the importance of stewarding our lands and waters for future generations. 

Chantal Pronteau, Kitasoo Xai'Xais Guardian
Quote

It makes me feel proud to be a Guardian ...

Story

Nanwakolas Guardians – Building Good Teams and Working Together

Tipsheet

Tips for Being a Good Guardian Crew and Team Member

  1. Bring an open and positive attitude to work and participate actively. 
  2. Communicate openly and with respect.
  3. Exercise patience with yourself and others. 
  4. Stay calm, manage emotions, and de-escalate tense situations.
  5. Share your experience and knowledge and listen to and learn from others.
  6. Communicate questions, concerns, ideas, and observations. 
  7. Identify and communicate what makes you feel motivated, excited, or inspired.
  8. Know your own as well as your team’s respective roles and responsibilities.
  9. Help to create and insist on a safe work environment by following safety protocols and emergency procedures. 
  10. Be organized and use care when observing, recording, or reporting.
  11. Know your own as well as your team’s respective skills and strengths.
  12. Recognize where you feel less confident or in need of more training or experience. 
  13. Be open to learning new things and taking on responsibility. 


Special thanks to Nanwakolas Guardians for contributing their ideas and experience to this resource.

Tipsheet

Tips for Being a Good Guardian Crew and Team Member

Info sheet

Wise Principles for Guardians Working as Teams

Special thanks to Nanwakolas Guardians for contributing their ideas and experience to this resource.

Come Together as a Team – Align the team with the purpose of your work in the territory and understand ancestral responsibilities (“I have/we have obligations”). Formally commit to working together and succeeding as a team, regularly revisiting principles for working together effectively. Bring positive energy and a cooperative mindset to work every day.

Safety First – Affirm that safety is everyone’s individual and shared responsibility by setting and following clear safety protocols and practices without exception. Run regular safety trainings, reviews, and drills. Be sure everyone knows and understands all safety protocols and practices and voices any uncertainty. Immediately debrief and learn from any challenging or unsafe situations. Be on time, fully prepared, and physically and mentally ready to work

Plan and Prepare – Involve your team in safety planning and preparations and work planning and preparations. Help each other to implement new data collection processes and learn the methodologies. Set shared goals for the work and realistic work plans and deliverables for the day, week, or season. Involve team in regular evaluations (e.g., project milestones, end of season retrospectives, etc.). 

Know Yourself and Your Team Members – Understand your own and your crew members’ strengths, weaknesses, areas of confidence, and apprehensions. Share your knowledge and experience to support others and seek out the guidance that others have to offer. Identify areas where you need more support or training and communicate where you’d like to develop your skills further. Clarify and ensure a shared understanding of team roles and distribute responsibilities to build and broaden team capacity.

Communicate – Respect should guide all communications with your team, the community, and the broader public. Build and practice a culture of communication (using strategies like checking in with each other at the start and end of day, in crew briefings, project meetings, staff meetings, etc.) to ensure the team is in alignment and to create a safe environment for the team to learn and improve together, hold different perspectives, and openly share challenges. Develop processes to share, document, and archive important information for future reference.

Celebrate Success – Recognize and celebrate success for the program, crew, and individual team members. Share information updates and achievements with the broader community, partners, and supporters. Think strategically on how to build on success, grow your impact, and maintain momentum over multiple seasons.

Info sheet

Wise Principles for Guardians Working as Teams

Community resource

Bakwam Accord - Example from VIU STTP 2021 Cohort

The 2021 VIU STTP Cohort created a Bakwam Accord at the beginning of the program to set out their shared values. Entitled “’Namwayut – We Are All One,” the Accord emphasizes the importance of maya’xala (respect) for all living things and for each other, inside and out of the classroom. It describes their expectations of each other, and equally importantly, of themselves.

Community resource

Bakwam Accord - Example from VIU STTP 2021 Cohort

Community resource

Developing an Indigenous Guardian Program Accord

It can be helpful to develop a set of principles to guide how Guardians work together and to identify shared expectations of one another. Guardians may choose to agree on shared principles in the form of a team charter or formal accord.

Community resource

Developing an Indigenous Guardian Program Accord

Section: How can you recruit and hire guardian staff?

Tipsheet

Tips for Recruiting and Hiring staff

  1. Think about how to create a well-rounded crew. This means considering the specific qualities, skills or experience you need to complement your existing crew members before you post a job for additional guardians. Also be sure to include any mandatory requirements in the job posting (i.e. driver’s license, grade 10 completion, small vessel operator ticket, etc.
  2. Spread the word about new jobs well in advance of the application deadline to ensure it gets out widely and that people have lots of time to respond. Use social media or ask for recommendations from trusted advisors to encourage applications.
  3. Be sure to ask questions during job interviews that are related to what you need to build a strong team. Ask situational questions to help you assess whether a candidate is suitable for the day-to-day realities of the job, including remote work, physical demands, travel and overtime, close quarters with the crew, and comfort with dealing with the public.
  4. Establish a transparent and objective ranking system to evaluate applicants. A hiring committee can help you be objective when weighing the pros and cons of each applicant.
  5. Use internship, summer student or youth training programs to mentor and train youth for guardian positions and add to your crew during the busy field season.
Tipsheet

Tips for Recruiting and Hiring staff

Template

Guidelines for Developing a Job Description

This template provides guidelines outlining the general sections that you can consider including when you develop your job description for the position of Indigenous Guardian, along with the type of information that is needed in each section.  

Template

Guidelines for Developing a Job Description

Template

Sample Indigenous Guardian Job Description

This template provides a sample job posting – the details in this posting are fictitious!  Please use this sample job posting only as a guide to developing your own job description that describes the specifics of your Indigenous Guardian program and the position that you are hiring for.

Template

Sample Indigenous Guardian Job Description

Worksheet

Conducting an Indigenous Guardian Job Interview

This worksheet provides general tips for conducting interviews, sample interview questions, and building a checklist of qualifications.  Modify the content of this worksheet to suit the unique characteristics and needs of your program. Download it now

Worksheet

Conducting an Indigenous Guardian Job Interview

Section: How can you be sure to keep the staff you have?

“Something that I’ve found very useful in helping to retain staff is to give them more responsibility by engaging them at management decision making and updating leadership. Staff want to see that the information they have is really valuable and needed, and that they are appreciated and their work is making a difference. They contribute to decision making as a valued part of the team, rather than just being a labourer. All these things can help retain staff even if your wage is low and you have no benefits to offer.”  

Anna Schmidt, Taku River Tlingit
Quote

“Something that I’ve found very useful in helping to retain staff is to give them more responsibility by engaging them at management decision making..."

Section: What makes a good Indigenous Guardian program manager?

Tipsheet

Top Tips for Managing and Supervising Staff

  1. Ensure staff have detailed job descriptions and employee contracts that describe responsibilities, work duties, reporting expectations, salary and benefits, work hours, overtime policy, and compensation for overnight travel.
  2. Develop an employee code of conduct and policies related to drug and alcohol use. Be clear about expectations and consequences.
  3. Review employee performance and compensation on a regular basis each year.
  4. Provide a solid orientation for new staff. Orient them to the broad program and stewardship goals shaping their work, standard safety policies and procedures, personal responsibility and performance expectations, risk management, equipment use, reporting.
  5. Have regular meetings and get constructive feedback from staff. Consider having weekly check-ins to ensure effective work planning, scheduling and logistics. Monthly meetings can focus on field observations and overall program direction.
Tipsheet

Top Tips for Managing and Supervising Staff

Tipsheet

Top Tips for Improving Employee Conduct

  1. Ensure you have clear policies that describe what it means to be ‘fit for duty,’ expectations for conduct while wearing a uniform, and expectations to ensure all staff have a safe workplace free from discrimination, bullying or violence.
  2. ‘Fit for duty’ means being physically and mentally prepared to do the job safely and efficiently. Zero tolerance drug and alcohol policies ensure that each person and other staff are not put at risk.
  3. If you have to take action with a staff member and issue a warning or suspension, provide them with clear terms and conditions. Document all incidents and conversations.
  4. Identify elders, community leaders or experienced staff to model expectations for employee conduct, be a strong influence with staff if problems arise, or provide support in making HR decisions. 
Tipsheet

Top Tips for Improving Employee Conduct

"Having a good program manager is important. What makes them good? They are in the field with the crew, participating in the training that is being offered. They are team players. Sometimes program managers struggle with writing funding applications and reporting, so we provide outside support."

Scott Harris, Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network
Quote

"Having a good program manager is important. What makes them good?..."

“Are there opportunities for staff to check in and give feedback during program activities? Have staff fill out an employee exit survey to get feedback, especially at the end of the season if you work with seasonal staff. Capture what worked well, what they would like to change, and what could be done differently – this is very helpful in knowing what would keep them or ensure they return.”

Devlin Fernandes, Ecotrust Canada
Quote

“Are there opportunities for staff to check in and give feedback during program activities?..."

Community resource

Occupational Health and Safety Manual – Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network

Community resource

Guardian Staff/Program Participant Information Form – Ecotrust Canada and North East Superior Regional Chiefs' Forum

Community resource

Corrective Action/Discipline Policy - Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network

The 'Corrective Action/Discipline Policy' shared by the Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network provides a fair and consistent approach to dealing with employees whose conduct, behaviour and/or performance falls below acceptable standards or regulatory requirements.  It is designed to correct behaviours, conduct and performance.

Community resource

Corrective Action/Discipline Policy - Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network

Community resource

Drug and Alcohol Policy - Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network

The goal of the 'Drug and Alcohol Policy' shared by the Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network is to provide a safe, healthy and drug‐free workplace. The policy clearly describes expectations and requirements for employees to report to work in appropriate mental and physical condition in order to perform their jobs safely and efficiently.

Community resource

Drug and Alcohol Policy - Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network

Community resource

Coastal Guardian Watchman Uniform Policy - Coastal Stewardship Network

The 'Coastal Guardian Watchman Uniform Policy' shared by the Coastal Stewardship Network is provided to their member Nations whose Guardian Watchmen wear Coastal Guardian Watchman (CGW) uniforms while out on patrol. It describes why CGW wear the uniforms, who can wear the uniforms and the responsibilities and conduct of those who are wearing the uniforms.

Community resource

Coastal Guardian Watchman Uniform Policy - Coastal Stewardship Network

Tipsheet

Tips for Being a Strong Guardian Manager, Leader, and Mentor

  1. Communicate openly, respectfully, and set out clear expectations for projects, data gathering protocols, and deliverables.
  2. Debrief with your crew regularly and encourage your team to proactively voice their concerns, questions, or need for more training or information.  
  3. Prioritize and follow strict safety protocols and set clear expectations of the team to maintain a safe working environment.
  4. Be organized and expect the same of your crew.
  5. Be able to accommodate fluctuating staff needs and have backup plans (e.g., plans to keep crew busy when weather is poor, equipment needs and repair, etc.).
  6. Recognize team members for their contributions, celebrate results and success, and connect accomplishments back to the purpose of Guardian work.
  7. Know team members’ individual strengths and experience levels and encourage your team to be the best they can be and to stretch themselves in new ways. 
  8. Trust your team to take on work and new responsibilities and allow the team to make and learn from mistakes.
  9. Encourage a hands-on learning mindset and increase responsibility and delegate more as the team succeeds. 
  10. Support crew members to gain the skills they need to feel fully ready and confident to undertake the work (and watch for signs of discomfort or fear). 
  11. Provide regular training, drills, and skills refreshers. Involve the crew in work planning (e.g., understanding budgets and other constraints, safety planning, emergency procedures, etc.).


Special thanks to Nanwakolas Guardians for contributing their ideas and experience to this resource.

Tipsheet

Tips for Being a Strong Guardian Manager, Leader, and Mentor