- 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.
- Look to build a well-rounded crew with complementary qualities, skills, education and experience.
- When interviewing, test candidates’ suitability for the challenges of the job – things like remote work, physical demands, overtime, communicating with the public, etc.
- 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.
- Develop an employee code of conduct and related policies to be clear about expectations, consequences and to ensure safety on the job.
- Provide a solid orientation for new staff that covers program goals, performance expectations, reporting, personal responsibility, safety policies and procedures, and equipment use.
- Meet regularly with staff to provide ongoing direction, deal with logistics, and solicit regular feedback.
- 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.
- Look to elders, community leaders or experienced staff to model expectations and provide support when issues arise or HR decisions are being made.
- 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.
Resources in chapter Hire and Manage Staff
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.
It makes me feel proud to be a Guardian ...
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Tips for Recruiting and Hiring staff
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.
Guidelines for Developing a 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.
Sample Indigenous Guardian Job Description
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
Conducting an Indigenous Guardian Job Interview
“I pay my crew for 10 hours a day, whether they are on the water for 6 hours or 12 hours. If they work hard, get the job done, they are efficient, it works out in their favour. There are days in the field that are long and crappy, but this is made up for the days when things are smooth and they get home early. You have to offer a fair wage that is competitive with the region around you. You will have a lot of turnover if you are offering low wages.”
“I pay my crew for 10 hours a day, whether they are on the water for 6 hours or 12 hours..."
“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.”
“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..."
- 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.
- Develop an employee code of conduct and policies related to drug and alcohol use. Be clear about expectations and consequences.
- Review employee performance and compensation on a regular basis each year.
- 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.
- 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.
Top Tips for Managing and Supervising Staff
- 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.
- ‘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.
- 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.
- 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.
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."
"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.”