Club Story: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Exit Polling

Today’s guest post, and third in our series on Pulse Checks, is from Max Fenster from Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada, where Club staff have been piloting exit polls for a year. Read on to discover what they’ve learned!

Nearly a year ago, we began using exit polling to get feedback from our members. Originally, we piloted the technique described in BGCA’s recently released Pulse Checks Guide at three of our fourteen sites. Our goal for the pilot program was to limit disruptions caused by exit polls and and create strategies to overcome them. Through discussions with Club staff who participated in the pilot, we identified some best practices and suggestions to share while rolling out the program to all of our sites.

First and foremost, staff buy-in is essential for the system to be effective. When staff understand the purpose and benefits of exit polling, it becomes a priority. Let’s be honest, there’s a lot going on in a Clubhouse on any given day: dropping off members at school, picking up members from school, Power Hour, sports leagues, parent meetings, field trips, and more. Clubs are a busy place, and for good reason! Unfortunately, because of the full schedule, things sometimes slip through the cracks. Ensuring exit polling is a sincere priority of staff both limits the chances of it being overlooked and increases the quality of feedback from members.

Similarly, it is important that the systems put in place to collect information from the exit polls are both simple and comprehensive. On the one hand, it is important to correctly collect data. On the other hand, data collection should not burden front line staff. Technology is an amazing tool for balancing these necessities. We’ve used systems like Google Drive to get responses quickly from staff using a variety of platforms (PC, phone, tablet, etc.) like this:

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Once procedures have been put into place to get the data, the feedback should be used to effect positive change in the Clubhouse. At an exit poll in one of our sites, members reported feeling that they were not being recognized for trying hard. After reviewing the results, staff hosted listening sessions with members to get more detailed information. Through these sessions, staff identified specific areas for improvement, such as intentionally including time for members to be recognized during programs and including recognition in their program planning.

As we all know, every Clubhouse is different. For any pulse check to be effective, it must be flexible. Sometimes exit polling looks like this:

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Other times, exit polling looks like this:

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Sharing results can be a series of conversations with youth, staff, or parents, or it can be a bulletin board, like this:

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Finally, leaders need to provide continual support and guidance to ensure that staff are able to carry out exit polls effectively. When we tell our teams to do something, we need to provide them with the tools, skills, and knowledge necessary to do it well. For exit polling, this means we need to educate our staff on the procedures and benefits of questioning members, make polling tokens and containers available, and check-in with staff regularly. If staff need it, leaders should provide.

Staff buy-in, streamlined data collection, flexibility, and guidance are the four keys to successfully implementing Pulse Checks inside of a Boys & Girls Club. 

To read more about Pulse Checks or any of our posts on NYOI and data, peruse the NYOI category of the ClubX Blog!

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Max is Program Operations Associate at Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada, and has been in the Movement for almost nine years. He started at the Club as an AmeriCorps Member, and also served in the Peace Corps in Grenada, West Indies, where he hosted a pen pal program between his students there and Club members back in Nevada!

Have you implemented Pulse Checks or exit polling in your Club? Let us know how it went in the comments below or at ClubXBlog@bgca.org!

 

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