What makes a good Indigenous Guardian program manager?

A program manager who is responsible for running and overseeing your guardian program will help ensure that staff are supported and do their work effectively and safely. You may want to create a position or add the responsibilities to a senior guardian’s job description.

A guardian program manager is ideally a strong leader who is good at mentoring and managing people and who has strong organizational and project management skills. It is also an asset to have skills in fundraising, reporting, communications, and data analysis.

Responsibilities of the program manager may include:

  • Coordinating and championing your program vision.
  • Managing program work plans and budgets.
  • Coordinating work schedules, regular staff meetings, training, and program logistics (i.e. equipment, travel, and maintenance).
  • Developing policies, procedures, and safety protocols, and ensuring they are understood and followed.
  • Monitoring and tracking project activities, and ensuring accountability.
  • Program administration, including time/pay sheets, purchasing, and financial reporting.
  • Reporting to and working with governance bodies and the community.
  • Fundraising and project reporting.
  • Managing information, data, and analysis.

Here are some Tipsheets for a program manager focused on "Managing and Supervising Staff" and "Improving Employee Conduct".

There are several community resources shared below that could be useful to a program manager, including an Operational Health and Safety Manual, Guardian Staff Information Form, as well as specific policies for corrective action/discipline, and drug and alcohol use. Take advantage of what other programs have already developed.

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