Supporting a Coordinator: What Do Coordinators Need from their Supervisor and Home Agency?
The greatest source of support for a coordinator is often their home agency. That is both their direct supervisor, their colleagues, and their agency/organization as a whole. We also hear from coordinators, though, that it is their home agency that is creating barriers to their work, through lack of support, deprioritization of the work, limited decision making, and confusion over priorities/direction of the team.
Some ways that a supervisor or home agency can support a SART coordinator include:
- Sending a representative
- One way to help a coordinator is by sending another representative from the agency to be the voice of the agency at the table. It is hard when a coordinator is expected to both coordinate and advocate for the stance of their discipline/agency.
- Recognizing the neutral role of a coordinator
- While coordinators help a team stay mission-focused and victim-centered, they should not be advocating for their agency beliefs or vision. Many times, we see coordinators who are pushed to force a team to do a certain activity, deviate from a team plan, or change the scope of a team to serve the needs of their home agency. That can be harmful to a team. A coordinator should be supported in their efforts on the team, but not pushed to drive the team at the desires of their agency.
- Helping a coordinator prioritize SART work
- We often talk to coordinators who aren’t able do any work related to the team because of the crisis work that they have to do. A supervisor should work with the coordinator to ensure that they have the ability to do adequate and allowable work on team coordination. Help them dedicate time to the SART work. That might even mean allowing the coordinator to work out of the office occasionally to be able to better focus on the team. Systems focused work can easily be pushed to the back due to the day-to-day needs of agencies, but allowing a coordinator to prioritize and dedicate time to SART work can have long lasting impacts on all responders and victims/survivors in your community.
- Supporting a coordinator through difficult problems
- Sometimes, a coordinator may need their supervisor or someone from their agency to assist them in navigating a difficult situation or conflict that arises on the team. By having the coordinator’s “back,” the supervisor helps to enhance the authority of the coordinator.
- Institutionalizing SART work within the agency
- While a coordinator shouldn’t be the sole representative of an agency, they do play a role in bringing information back and institutionalizing SART work throughout their organization. This means having all staff understand the importance of systems focused work, know what the team is working on, and implement any protocols or new practices the team has developed.
- Creating or supporting ways for the coordinator to seek support
- Sometimes a coordinator needs support or resources beyond what they can get from their home agency. This might include connecting with coalitions, national technical assistance providers (like us at SVJI!), or from other SART coordinators. There might be trainings that would strengthen their leadership skills, coordination skills, or sexual violence content knowledge. Support them as they want to connect with others!
Today, we shared a few ways agencies and supervisors can support SART coordinators. What do you think of our ideas for support? What are other ways to support a coordinator? Let us know in the comments!