Training for supervisors and team leaders

As described in Module 8: Survey supervision and personnel, the fieldwork support team usually includes team leaders and regional supervisors (field and laboratory, as applicable), who are in turn supported by specialists within the Technical committee.

In some surveys, some or all of the team leaders and supervisors are pre-identified based on their skills and prior field survey experience. In other situations, these positions are filled from the pool of trainees. Whichever process is used, the selection of team leaders and supervisors should be based on objective criteria that include experience and expertise, skills in leadership and management and the ability to carry out high-quality supervision.

Pre-identified team leaders and supervisors can assist during the field staff training. They should receive several days of specialized training before the general training course begins. This is an opportunity for the team leaders and supervisors to receive training in appropriate skills, for example, setting up electronic devices and checking and uploading data files, and to gain experience in the leadership role before the fieldwork.

If team leaders and supervisors are to be selected during the general field staff training, then it is useful to observe the performance of potential candidates in various roles. After team leaders and supervisors are selected, they will need one to two days of additional training. The agendas for training and piloting should reflect this time commitment. The skills to reinforce will depend on the pool of trainees from which the leaders and supervisors selected. For example, if team leaders are selected from the pool of interviewers, then they may need additional training on the biological specimen collection processes, whereas if they are selected from the laboratory trainees, then they may need more exposure to the interview process. They should also be familiar with the key points in relation to anthropometry.

A manual specific to team leaders and supervisors should be prepared for the training. In addition to the topics covered for all field staff, team leaders and supervisors should receive further instruction in the following areas:

  • Interpretation of maps and household listings. When mapping and household listing are not conducted in advance, more intensive and time-consuming training on sampling and map reading is required. This should include a visit to a sample segment to practice reading the map and locating selected households and participants.
  • Observing interviews, checking questionnaires and labelling (paper and electronic), and providing feedback to field staff.
  • Electronic device setup, charging and management, including downloading survey questionnaires, uploading questionnaires, checks to complete on electronic questionnaires, GPS measurements and reporting, device maintenance and troubleshooting.
  • Collecting and processing biological specimens, managing the cold chain, labelling, transportation, and completion of log forms.
  • Strategies for monitoring data quality.
  • Logistics.
  • Team leadership, mobilizing communities, maintaining team morale, supportive supervision, dealing with problems and communicating with other teams and regional or national supervisors.

It may be useful to challenge team leaders by asking them to review and amend questionnaires (paper or electronic) and laboratory forms that have been incorrectly completed. This is a good way to evaluate their ability to find errors and deal with them appropriately. Team leaders should be observed during the training period to review their performance and identify areas where additional input may be required.

Box 12.3 provides an example of responsibilities related to the use of electronic-devices for which a team leader/supervisor may need additional training. Examples of team leader and supervisor manuals can be found in the Ghana supervisor manual and the Ghana Training Manual Iodine Survey ODK Section for Interviewers online tools.

Box 12.3. Responsibilities for team leaders that may require specific training

Before any fieldwork begins, the team leader must ensure that:

  • the mobile devices are ready for use and have the correct software applications installed (the training team should help with the initial setup);
  • the mobile devices have the most up-to-date version of the survey form;
  • all interviewers know their interviewer code, and have a badge and a letter from the government in order to enter homes and collect data; and
  • all devices have been given an appropriate device name (for example the team code, interviewer code, interviewer name) and that all interviewer devices have been “paired” with the Team leader’s device for backup.

At the start of each day of fieldwork, the Team leader should ensure that:

  • all interviewers in his or her team know which households they have been allocated and have been given the correct barcode labels; and
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and data connections on all devices have been switched off, but GPS remains on.

At the end of each day, the Team leader should:

  • collect the devices from all team members;
  • carry out checks on all finalized questionnaires;
  • through “pairing” or other technology ensure that all questionnaires have been backed up (finalized or saved);
  • (if a data network is available) upload all finalized and checked questionnaires to the aggregate server;
  • (once backups and uploads are complete) confirm that the main menu for each interviewer device is prepared to collect data the following day;
  • ensure that all devices are set to be fully charge by morning; and
  • complete relevant sections of paper-based Household Checklist, then complete the device-based team leader form and send with an image of the Household Checklist.