To promote an environment of innovation and improvement, one strategy we employ is engaging our staff in developing and then sharing their expertise with their peers. It is in an effort to promote a learning community philosophy to encourage leadership, promote learning, and foster expertise.
Through the learning community we are focusing on intentional personal and program improvement, fostering expertise and leadership, and creating internal capacity for staff development.
Promoting Personal & Program Improvement
We have a diverse committee that puts together a list of internal staff expertise. Staff are asked to identify their expertise and participate in sharing it with their peers. The committee also surveys the staff to understand what the professional development needs and wants are among the staff. Those with expertise in the areas of need or interest are then asked to deliver trainings and other learning experiences. In addition to this approach, we also ask staff to lead discussions in their areas of interest. For example, we have a training series that has different staff members leading discussions on selected TED Talks.
The committee also identifies where outside training and support are needed and encourages staff to attend external trainings to expand or develop expertise. Every staff member is asked to develop their own professional development goals, which are discussed and reviewed in the performance evaluation process. All of this is in an effort to continue to grow and expand personal skills, which improve program performance and promote an environment of innovation.
Fostering Expertise & Leadership
Through the learning community, the goal is that staff at all levels of the organization see themselves as ongoing learners and leaders in their field. This happens from their own continued learning as well as rising to high expectations. Being asked to lead a workshop for peers builds confidence. To teach is to first learn, so in that way it also promotes learning in the person developing the workshop. These “teachers” further take on the mantle of leader as they showcase their skills to their peers.
Building Internal Capacity
An added benefit to this strategy is that you are growing your organization’s staff development capacity in a very cost effective way. You don’t have to pay consultants or send staff to as many external trainings, saving money on fees and travel and focusing in on your internal capacity.
I think it is also a great model for our students. They see that the staff is taking charge of their own education and growth, which can only have a positive benefit for our students, hopefully inspiring them to own their own learning and capacity for leadership.
Speaking of a learning community, I am looking forward to one of the best learning opportunities while we are here at BOOST. I can see a series of internal trainings over the next couple of days that are inspired by BOOST, so those that attend are sharing their learning with those who aren’t able to be here. What do you think?
To spice up my day, I had potatoes and cottage cheese with Tabasco for breakfast this morning.
Author Profile: @juliemcclure