What better way to kick off 2019 than inviting a young person to shadow you? Not only will you contribute to the strong legacy of youth empowerment building from the Year of Young People, you will also inject fresh thinking and challenge to your workplace. Win-win situation.
Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary at the Scottish Government, who regularly supports youth shadowing, and Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot, have teamed up to share these top tips on shadowing.
Choose the right day
- Be clear what the young person shadowing is seeking from the day – what would the end of a successful shadowing day feel like?
- Discuss the day in advance – chat it through to ensure it is fit for purpose, any parameters and details – will they be able to claim expenses? How will they treat confidential information? Can they/you use social media?
- Pick a good time when the young person shadowing can switch off from work/pressures to focus on the day and when you are able to share a real day – warts and all.
- Include sensitive meetings if possible – these are often the most interesting, and demonstrate trust (and the need for confidentiality).
On the day
- Make their early encounters stress free. How best to get there? Who is going to meet them? Who will be their contact point?
- Protect time at the start of the day to explain your role and responsibilities, and what this really involves. Make sure you decode your work and your day – no acronyms! Describe the purpose and desired outcome of each engagement/event, and any difficult or complex meetings.
- Remember what the young person has to offer – how can they be involved in sharing their perspective, challenge, lived experience and learning, to the benefit of your organisation?
- Fit in time for a download at the end of the day to answer any specific or overarching questions and tease out key ‘take aways’ from the day.
- You can share advice, experience and tips with the young person – but make sure you get to hear their perspective and feedback on what they have heard/observed in shadowing you personally, and about young people’s role, influence and voice in your organisation.
- Keep a note of feedback on the experience to help make future shadowing experiences even better.
So please commit to youth shadowing in 2019 – you will not be disappointed!