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Communication and other complementary skills

Communication is the means through which people make contact. It should be made clear that effective communication is an important management function. Communication takes place internally between the manager and his or her staff and volunteers, and externally, between the manager and the other stakeholders. 

THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF COMMUNICATION
  • Verbally, by word of mouth or in written form. Examples are messages conveyed either personally to a staff member or generally at staff meetings. 
  • Written, through minutes of meetings or reports of activities. In each case the message must be worded in such a way that the receiver can fully understand it.
  • Non-verbally, by gestures, facial expressions, attitudes. Examples are a frown on your face, widening of the eyes, the way we sit, and the way we speak.

NEGOTIATION AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION
Negotiations and conflict resolution are special types of communication. They have become part of our daily lives, e.g. in industry, sport, community development and politics. 

  • The ideal is to aim for a win-win solution that benefits the community and all stakeholders when negotiating or participating in conflict resolution sessions.
  • If necessary, make compromises or concessions on minor issues in order to reach agreement on major ones.

NETWORKING 
By establishing forums or buying into existing services such as youth activities or education, role players working together can support the community more effectively than working alone. One of the advantages to networking is the benefit of cost reduction. By sharing resources and expertise, projects can be handled at a fraction of the cost. As an example, if one were to handle a sports development programme within the schools in your area, each member of the network would bring his own resources and expertise to projects to improve organisation and security arrangements. 

THE NEED FOR PUBLICITY AND MARKETING
You need to keep in touch with your public. For this purpose you have to develop an effective marketing, publicity and promotion plan. You have to interact with both your community and other role-players and stakeholders outside your community, such as possible donors, institutions for tertiary education and large companies. 

They will support you if they feel that you are doing good work. However, if they do not hear from you, they will forget about you. Here is where marketing, publicity and promotion come in. They create bridges between you and your environment. 

THE ROLE OF COMPUTERS IN THE FACILITY
Computers are powerful communication and information instruments that can promote and accelerate development in a community. The beauty of the computer is that you can add 
or alter information whenever you like and accordingly have fresh information all the time. 


AS AN INFORMATION TOOL 
Types of lists that may be stored on computer as ”databases” and which could be very useful:

  • Membership (members’ personal and payment details). 
  • Roleplayer and stakeholders address and personal particulars. 
  • Sponsor and training agency addresses and histories.
  • Training courses/tracking progress of development projects in your area. 
  • Storing administrative work such as bookings for functions, bookkeeping (financial records), minutes of meetings, correspondence.

Some of this information can aIso be used to generate income, such as selling the community profile to developers or the local council. 

In a more general sense, the facility may act as a general information node, collecting information on what to get where, such as:

  • Where can I find a doctor? 
  • Where can I find a crèche?
  • How do I treat a burn or cut?
  • Where can I find a lawyer?
  • Where can I find treated seed for the pumpkins I want to grow?
  • Where can I find counselling services (e.g. for rape victims and addicts)? 
  • Who are my community organisations?

This service of being a clearinghouse as described above will, of course, have to be free. If you develop this service-rendering aspect of your facility, you may be able to attract good funding for your facility from donors. 

AS AN EDUCATION TOOL 
Individuals in the community may want to use the computer for their educational needs such as: 

  • practice their skills 
  • type their assignments.

The real value of computers and the multi-purpose facility as a facility of learning becomes evident if you have educational programmes (software), such as:

  • arithmetic 
  • languages 
  • mathematics.

Students will flock to the facility. This is even enhanced when you have a modem and have access to the Internet. Then you can offer information on bursaries and training courses. Distance education makes much use of the information network provided by the computer system. The Internet can also be used to look for job opportunities and to interact with commerce and industry. 

AS A FUND GENERATOR 
Some of the means of generating funds through the computer have already been mentioned. There are more, particularly if you have a modem and access to the Internet. Business people may use you services to do their ordering of stock and the local government may use it for some of their administration. In addition, some people in the community may wish to explore the world through the Internet or do some e-mailing. You may like to charge a small fee per hour for using the computer for these purposes. 

TYPICAL PROBLEMS 
Computers are sensitive equipment, you should take proper care of your computers and their security. Dust and rough handling will disturb their performance severely. Keep them clean and as dust-free as possible. 

Several technical problems may arise, with the computer itself (what is called the ’hardware’) or with the programmes of the computer (the ’software’). You have to have good relationships with people skilled in computers to help you in such instances. Conflict may arise from the use of the computers, such as who may use them and when, for how long? Who will be ultimately accountable for the well functioning of the equipment? 

Security might be a problem, depending on your situation. Computers are very sought-after and you have to arrange for good burglar proofing of your facility. 


(A Notes section is provided in the printed handbook,
click to download a copy thereof.)

End of Booklet

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Page last updated: 05/04/2012 .

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