Hire for passion and intensity; there is training for everything else.
- Nolan Bushnell, technology pioneer
Whether or not you agree with Mr. Bushnell’s hiring practices, a well-developed nonprofit staff training program is a worthwhile investment which will improve the overall outcomes of your organization.
According to research, high-performing companies, on average, spend significantly more on training - and that spending is paying off! Effective employee training improves employee recruitment since job seekers are concerned with opportunities for learning and development. It also improves employee retention.
As reported in the Harvard Business Review:
Dissatisfaction with some employee-development efforts appears to fuel many early exits...[Workers are] not getting much in the way of formal development, such as training, mentoring, and coaching—things they...value highly.
In fact, according to the 2014 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey, 1 in 5 nonprofits indicated that high turnover has been their biggest employment challenge. While 19% of organizations identify the inability to promote or advance top performing staff as their main challenge.
Bersin & Associates have identified four levels of training program maturity:
- Incidental Training: Informal, unstructured “on-the-job” training
- Training & Developmental Excellence: A team of training professionals builds a set of programs. Instructional design and technologies are standardized.
- Talent and Performance Improvement: Training programs are integrated into career development models - training is mapped to career progression within the organization.
- Capability Development:The focus moves from the employee to the organization, analyzing organizational capabilities and culture and improving performance through many types of learning.
1. Training should support organizational goals
2. Effective training links to clearly articulated job descriptions and work processes
3. Vary your training methods
- Present a new challenge in the form of a work-related task or project
- Provide access to the knowledge and resources necessary to meet the challenge
- Meet regularly during the completion of the task or project to provide meaningful feedback and mentoring
4. New hires should complete a thorough orientation
5. Job-related information and training should be readily available
6. Create a culture of learning
Leaders must demonstrate that learning is valued by continuously seeking their own professional development opportunities and sharing their enthusiasm with staff.
They must also include learning outcomes in staff professional goal setting and performance evaluations. A culture of learning doesn’t stop at formal training - we learn from each other. Organizational leadership should enable teamwork to facilitate this.
As a starting point, identify your organizational goals and the specific information and skills each department must be taught in order to be successful. Then, you can map existing resources to the identified learning objectives (and identify any holes where new content must be developed).
Once you have all of your content, you can start to decide on the instructional methodology you want to use - instructor-led, coaching, or some combination of the two. Happy training!