Many people have read Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey provides habits that result in people leading effective lives. I believe that these habits can be directly applied to supporting people with development disabilities. Our staff are regularly trained in this approach to support work. We call this:
7 Habits of Effective Support Work
1. Proactive support – The Habit of Choosing Your Response
Proactive Support is the opposite of Reactive Support. A Proactive Support Worker chooses how they will respond to any situation while the Reactive Support Worker sees situations and events as happening to them – they believe that these events are beyond their control.
Spend at least 5-10 minutes reviewing the previous notes, talking to people and reading any files that may provide information to allow you and your participant(s) having a successful day.
2. Begin With The End In Mind – Develop a Habit of Thinking Ahead
In order to have successful day, discuss your daily plan with your co-worker(s). As the saying goes, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”
For example, if you are going swimming today, plan how the activity will occur; what things do I need to bring in order for the trip to be successful? Visualize a successful trip.
3. Putting First Things First – Develop the Habit of Priority
In order to be a successful support worker, and serve your participant, you need to prioritize the things that need to be done first. It is your job to put the needs of your participant(s) first. This means that your needs are secondary. For example, taking phone calls or texting your friends suggests that you are putting their needs second.
4. Win/win – Develop a Habit of Thinking That There is a Solution to Every Problem that Benefits Both People
A win/win approach to service delivery requires you to consider the needs of your participant(s) and your co-workers. You approach each situation or problem by asking yourself, “How can we both win.” Too often support workers approach their job from a win/lose perspective.
5. Understand Before Being Understood – Develop The Habit of Listening
The needs of the participant(s) are crucial. It is important to understand their needs, this requires you to listen and observe their behaviors – remember all behaviors are a form of communication; they are telling you something.
6. Synergy – Synergy is the Habit of Cooperation
When teams work cooperatively it is much easier to support our participant(s). A boat reaches its destination much faster if everyone pulls the oars in the same direction.
7. Learning – The Habit of Continual Improvement
As an Effective Support Worker you work with an attitude of learning and growth.