Importance of Staff Development

If you’re lucky enough to have staff, you know the value and time it takes to properly train them. This process is an ongoing one that is rife with successes and failures. How you train your staff varies from person to person, but it’s important that staff are given the proper training, feedback, and opportunities to succeed and fail. The last two are probably one of the more challenging ones to embrace, but is required to create success through buy-in. Staff buy-in creates an overall better product, which improves long-term engagement.

My methods vary depending on the situation, goals, and job at hand. I’ve spent a lot of time working with college aged employees, and I think that there are some specific challenges to working with this group. In many cases the staff that work for me are part-time, and the amount of time they work for me varies from days (in some cases) to years. Working in collegiate recreation I feel a big part of my job is to train staff and then give them opportunities to grow. This comes with many challenges along the way, and in many ways forces me to have to trust earlier than I would otherwise. My goal is to get them to the point where they function without me at the level I expect. What I’ve learned is that through this process I must step back, support them, and let them do their jobs. It’s the same thing I want from my employer so why wouldn’t I do that for my staff? This is easier said than done, especially when your name is what’s on the line in the process.

When I work with staff on a new project or venture it’s likely they’re not going to be as excited about it, or as knowledgeable as me. My goal in the process is to get them up to my level as quickly as possible, or at least to a functioning level. There is a lot of trial and error along the way, but if staff are supported properly they will develop accordingly. I’ve found this to be true especially when working with officials. Training officials or a court monitor takes time. It requires a theoretical background on the topic, but more importantly an understanding of the practical. The practical is something that takes time and experience, but staff must be put into those situations to learn. To do this my staff and I go through training looking at videos and other resources to learn the basics, and then we take it to the court.

The training doesn’t stop there because staff are evaluated on their performance.  The focus on the evaluation is not to nitpick on every mistake, but to highlight some good, and some areas to work on. Some staff will have more things to work on than others and the intent isn’t to call out every single one. The goal is to highlight one or two areas to work on for the next time. I’ll usually recall one scenario to learn from and hope that through the conversation they’ll be more aware of it the next time and make improvements. Hopefully over the course of a few weeks they have progressed positively from where they began. They still may have a way to go, but they’re hopefully on the right path. Either way it’s a process and one that takes time, support, and patience.

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