Traits of an RFK Employee
HONESTY: Above all, the employee must be absolutely honest and trustworthy. He/she must be committed to “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
ATTITUDE OF SERVICE: Because the Ranch for Kids is an openly Christian-orientated facility, the prevailing belief is that the work here is more than a job or even a profession: it is a ministry. For this reason it’s important that employees are more concerned with service than with personal gain. Ultimately everything we do is designed to keep the children safe as we aid them in their respective journeys toward healing and wholeness.
DEPENDABILITY: The employee must be counted on to show up for work on time each day and to do what he/she is assigned conscientiously and competently.
INTELLIGENCE: A good employee must be intelligent. Although training in dealing with troubled children is desirable, it is important that the employee be teachable or trainable. He/she must be willing to accept new information and ideas that evolve through the work and additional training and then employ them in the work. Genius level mental skills are not necessary, but the person must be able to solve problems, consider carefully the consequences of his/her actions, and follow directions carefully.
COMMUNICATIVE: The employee must be able to express himself/herself clearly and be willing to speak frankly but diplomatically about concerns or problems that arise. In addition, the person should have good listening skills. Writing competence is essential, as the employee will frequently write progress reports and incident reports that must be clearly expressed. Training in interpersonal communication is an excellent asset.
GOOD MODELING: The employee must, through his/her appearance, demeanor, and behavior, model the kind of mature, well-reasoned behavior that the Ranch for Kids encourages. For example, the students should never observe an employee smoking, consuming alcoholic beverages, or doing any other behaviors that we teach are undesirable. Staff members must not appear as hypocrites, or they will undermine the values that The Ranch for Kids encourages and cease to be effective leaders. Especially should employees model the work ethic The Ranch seeks to instill in the students. In addition, employees ought to be emotionally stable and morally sound. The best employee will model the qualities advocated in the “Balanced Life Philosophy” of the Ranch: strong physical, mental, spiritual, and social traits.
VERSATILITY: The employee must be able to do a variety of “handyman” kinds of work, including some basic carpentry and mechanical tasks necessary at a working ranch. These might include such activities as hammering nails, driving screws, drilling holes, sawing boards, sanding, and painting. These skills are useful in simple repair jobs and in supervising students on work projects.
STRONG WILL: The employee must be able to be firm with children when necessary but still be patient and compassionate because the work demands a balanced emotional maturity. The term “strong willed” does not mean being unpleasantly stubborn; rather it suggests a firm steadiness that demonstrates to students that the person is strong enough to protect them and consistent in what he/she expects. The employee must have the firmness gently to bring students “down” when they are too active and to bring them “up” when they are feeling depressed or pained. A good metaphor might be that the person must have an iron hand inside a velvet glove.
FLEXIBILITY: The employee must be able to “go with the flow” as situations change—and they change constantly! Those dealing with learning-disabled and emotionally-unstable young people understand that predictability is not possible. Ideally, the staff keeps disruptions to a minimum, but the fact is that situations change almost every day, sometimes within minutes. The employee must be able to improvise when schedules or plans have to be altered, often with little notice. This flexibility does not mean that the employee should not plan carefully, but sometimes the best-laid plans must be modified or postponed to another day. In accepting this challenge, it’s good to keep in mind the old adage, “The only constant is change.”
CO-OPERATION: At the Ranch for Kids, it’s crucial for employees to work closely with others and accommodate their needs and skills in the work. Each person must have a positive, supportive attitude toward the work of others. The staff must think of itself as one body with numerous members. Teamwork is essential, and responses at coaching sessions indicate that building better teamwork is a high priority. Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so the cooperative staff efforts may fail if one member doesn’t assume his/her share of the collaboration. One of the most important aspects of co-operation is communication. Staff members must make sure that they share information about the day’s events with other staff members who will work later with the same students.
GOOD ORGANIZATION: The employee must be well organized, partly because good organization facilitates efficient work and partly because a well-organized person provides a good model for young people struggling with issues of structure and order. The effective employee must be able to construct works lists, prioritize the items on them, and work out a logical procedure to accomplish them. He/she must adhere to the old adage, “Plan your work, then work your plan.”
TEACHING ABILITY: The effective Ranch for Kids employee must have some skills in instructing others. Although formal teacher training is not necessary, it is desirable, especially if it has involved working with disabled learners. An employee with the ability to each at least one academic subject is especially valuable, but all professional staff employees will need to instruct students in informal situations, such as work projects. The staff has learned that most people can teach competently in their areas of special interests, skills, and gifts.