CRITICAL SELECTION OF THE PEER EDUCATOR COORDINATOR

First get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats, and then they can figure out where to drive it.” –Jim Collins, Good to Great

 THE ROLE OF THE PEER EDUCATOR COORDINATOR

The person needs to have strong project management skills, have influence with management, be passionate about helping people, and have the confidence and trust of the peer educators as well as that of Management.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is to appoint the wrong Peer Educator Coordinator.  This is literally “a kiss of death” to the whole programme and with our specialization in Peer Education; this is a scenario we have seen far too often. As service providers who really care about our work, we have had to stand back and let “the chips fall” once the peer educators are no longer under our influence or control. This is bitterly disappointing to us after we have given heart and soul to training them.

So, what is the role of the Coordinator and what qualities and abilities do they need to have?

Let’s start off explaining what the wrong coordinator looks like

  1. Their ego is oversized and it’s all about them, not the peer educators. Ego = kiss of death.

      “To lead people, walk behind them.” – Lao Tzu

 2. They do not delegate.“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing           it.” – Andrew Carnegie

3.  They have no experience or training in Project Management and Leadership skills.

Would you hire someone off the street to fix your plumbing, when they have no experience or appropriate tools for the job?

4.  They do not listen to the peer educator’s suggestions so as to build their confidence and worth.
“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” – Sam Walton

5. They try to micro manage the peer educators.
“The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he
wants done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them
while they do it.” -Theodore Roosevelt

6. They do not commend or praise their team.

“You have to create a culture where everybody has an opportunity to be recognized.” John Macke

7. They are not transparent, they fail to communicate with their team and there
is no trust in the Coordinator.

“The glue that holds all relationships together–including the relationship between the leader and the led–is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” –Brian Tracy

8. They do not have the emotional intelligence to be “self-aware” and to know how they are affecting the team of peer educators.

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” -Daniel Goleman

9. They are not computer literate and therefore cannot coordinate, manage, report and monitor the programme and activities.

“Use the right tools for the right job, in the right way” unknown source

10. Their loyalties lie with management or the medical clinic onsite – and not the peer educator programme.

Not objective enough and there is clear conflict of interest.

11. They have no position of influence in the organisation and therefore cannot escalate any peer educator concerns to management level where they are taken seriously.

Too low down the “totem pole”!

12.  The Coordinator views Peer Education as a tick box exercise.

Peer educators will soon see the true motivation for the programme.

What will the right Coordinator achieve?

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” – HOWARD SCHULTZ

 So what qualities are needed in a Peer Educator Coordinator?

 Prioritized Professional Profile (PPP) of the Peer Educator (unknown source)

The following 11 personality/behaviour styles have been identified as crucial to the selection of the successful Peer Educator:

  1. Leadership –

Effective in bringing a group or individuals together to accomplish a task and in getting ideas accepted.

  1. Communication –

Clearly conveying information and ideas through a variety of media to individuals or groups in a manner that engages the audience and helps them understand and retain the message.

  1. Building trust –

Interacting with others in a way that gives them (others) confidence in the Peer Educator’s intentions and those (intentions) of the organization.

  1. Gaining commitment –

Using appropriate interpersonal styles and techniques to gain acceptance of ideas or plans of the Peer Education Programme;   modifying one’s behaviour to accommodate tasks, situations and individuals involved.

  1. Developing awareness –

Raise awareness and educate others concerning HIV & AIDS and to influence their attitudes and behaviour.

  1. Integrity –

Maintaining and promoting social, ethical and organizational norms in conducting internal and external activities.

 7.  Adaptability –

Maintaining effectiveness when experiencing changes in work environment; adjusting effectively to work constrains and performing Peer Education work additional to normal duties.

  1. Innovation –

Generating innovative solutions in the Peer Education programme; trying different and novel ways to deal with work problems and opportunities.

  1. Self-confidence –

Expressing confidence in dealing with increasingly challenging circumstances, in reaching decisions or forming opinions, and in handling failures constructively.

  1. Interpersonal understanding –

The ability to hear accurately and understanding the unspoken or partly expressed thoughts, feelings, and concerns of others.

  1. Continuous learning –

Actively identifying new areas for learning; regularly creating and taking advantage of learning opportunities; using newly gained knowledge and skills in the Peer Education Programme and learning through application.

IN CLOSING –  our opinion!

In our experience Peer Educators often get the “raw end of the deal”!  What do we mean?

  1. They are sometimes just appointed to go and be trained as a peer educator. We have had people come for peer education training and when asked; they don’t know why they are there or what a peer educator is.
  2. They are trained initially (sometimes inadequately) and then left to perform “miracles” with no further support or training for years on end.
  3. They volunteer for this and receive no material reward
  4. No one listens to their ideas – so I am not sure why we even ask Peer Educators for their suggestions!
  5. Management views them as “trouble makers” because the only time they hear from
    them is if they have a problem.
  6. Peer Educators receive no recognition, formally or informally and are always battling to get to any meetings (if there are any) and unable to secure even a 5 minute slot during a team meeting for “educating” their colleagues.
  7. They have a Coordinator who is only doing a “tick box” exercise and is not passionate about the programme or really sees the need.
  8. Peer Educators are then given a bad name as they give in to lack of motivation and slowly become inactive.
It is for these reasons that Ed-Unique have specialised in Peer Education, designed and implemented Mentorship Programmes and provided the management tools to report and monitor the programme.  Give us a call to plan your programme so that it becomes sustainable and effective.