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Staff Leadership and Management

It All Adds Up: Hiring, Training, and Evaluating for the Things You Really Care About

You're Hired

I was fortunate enough to lead a pre-conference session at this year’s BOOST conference with my good friend Scott Arizala who is the Bono of the camping world. This guy is a bonafied rockstar. He trains and speaks at camps across the country and is a national keynoter and thought leader in the camping community. We co-led a session titled: “Retaining and Sustaining in Times of Crisis.” Along with the attendees we had a solid 6 hours to dream and scheme and plan and vent and create. It was a wonderful opportunity to really immerse in how we run our organizations so that staff are capable, effective, healthy, and well prepared for the challenges that come with working with youth.

You should have been there!….

My passion is in working with organizations, especially schools and youth-serving organizations, to think much more intentionally about what the experiences the ADULTS are having in the organization so that the YOUNG PEOPLE can have the desired experience you want for them. Quite simply, if it ain’t working for the adults, the adults ain’t working for the kids.

Of particular attention during our pre-conference day was the whole continuum of how you work with your staff. We talked about some of the central disconnects between organizational mission and focus and hiring, training, and evaluation. So I want you to step back for a second and think some things through with me.

1. Clarity of purpose and vision

Are you absolutely 100% certain you know exactly what kind of person you want to hire to work in your organization? Can you name the specifics of what you’re looking for? I’m not talking about their resume. I’m not talking about the references. I’m talking about a complete understanding of what you want the person to do and who you want that person to be.
Remember, you’re hiring someone with whom you’re probably going to spend more of your waking hours than your own family and friends. If you don’t have a crystal clear picture of the kind of person you’re hiring, it’s not their fault if they don’t work out. So you better get this right.

2. Alignment of vision with the hiring process

Look at your hiring process. Read your interview questions. Think about the tour you take candidates on during an on-site visit. If you know the kind of person you want to hire, have you aligned those desires with the process? Could you improve that alignment?

If you want a kid-centered person, do you have a kid-centered process? Do young people get a chance to interact with your candidates? It’s easy to talk a good game. But you can’t hide behind words when you’re around young people. You’ve either got “it” or you don’t. Look at your present questioning and dialogue process. It’s in this time that you get a real chance to explore with the candidate, to truly flesh out whether or not they’re aligned with what you and your organization care about. If 6 months after you’ve hired someone it doesn’t work out, might that be your fault for not asking the right questions?

3. Alignment of hiring with training.

On day 1 of someone working in your organization, they’re probably not going to hit the ground with every possible skill and piece of know-how they’re going to need. But if you’ve hired with wisdom and care, you’ll be able to align your mission with the hiring process and directly into training. Remember: YOU HIRE FOR TALENT, YOU TRAIN FOR SKILL. Get the right kind of person in the door, a curious and critical thinker, and you can provide training to hew off any rough edges.

But if you’ve hired someone within a certain image and you’re hoping to train them into something else, it’s your fault when that doesn’t work out. (Notice a theme here?)

4. Alignment of training with evaluation.

Finally, if you’ve done your aligning process well, you should be able to honestly and effectively evaluate your staff. There should be no hidden agendas, no reaction of “you wanted me to do WHAT?” Instead, your staff will see the clear progression from hiring to evaluation. It’s in that alignment and transparency that resides deep and meaningful job satisfaction and healthy work culture.

One of the leading stressors to staff members is role ambiguity. Not knowing expectations or feeling misaligned between one’s skill sets and what is being asked is a horrible experience. We all know that. But when you’re hired to do a job because you’re good at it and you’re given space to do that job well, few things can be more satisfying.

I’m remiss that I’ve written the phrase “it’s your fault” a couple of times. But I won’t take it back. It IS our fault if we’re not connecting the dots in reasonable and judicious fashion.

So again I invite you to take a step back from any “we’ve always done it this way” patterns, and decipher whether or not you can increase the satisfaction of your staff, yourself, and ultimately the experience of young people.

I know you can. Onward!

Author: Breakfast Club Guest

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