When professional development opportunities are cost-prohibitive, administrators are often challenged to create innovative methods to further develop and support their staff.
In my experience, professional development and learning opportunities for staff are the most important ingredients leading to strong leadership and effective organizations.
Below are three cost-efficient ways for any organization to maximize the potential of their staff:
1. Use the Internet. There is an extraordinary amount of free information on the Internet that has become available to many businesses and organizations focused on professional development.
a) Ask individual members of your staff to noodle around and find an article once a month that pertains to the work being done in your organization.
b) Have them share this article with the larger group at the staff meeting.
c) Create a short list of questions that can be used for each article, so that staff knows what to expect and can be prepared for discussion. Example: What did you read about? What moved you about the content? How did it apply to our work? How can you integrate it into our work?
2. Empower Your Staff. Encourage them to make decisions on what they think will help support and grow the organization in order to sustain a quality program.
a) Create committees to work on continuous improvement to support the work.
b) Have the committees be responsible for sharing their findings at staff meetings and with each other on a regular basis.
c) Enable staff to implement the results in the organization so that the work is incorporated.
3. One-on-one ‘lunch and learn’! Get together with a colleague and share a conversation and a resource.
This is what happened at the BOOST Conference. I was casually chatting with a former colleague, someone I worked with over 13 years ago. Since then both of us have ‘moved on’ and are now in higher positions, but still have a strong desire to impact youth — we have grown, but the mission remains the same. We began having a discussion about transformation, education, program impact and sustainability, authentic progress, and organizational leadership. One idea after another came out of our mouths like a fire-hose bursting with water.
We began sharing resources that we had been exposed to inside our own organizations for personal and professional growth. After a rich and impactful conversation in the hotel lobby, a lightbulb flashed: Why not meet once a month and continue to share resources with each other! Like a ‘lunch and learn’ for just two. We wanted to create a space for us to broaden each other’s practice and further support each other in our present roles. It helped that we had already built a foundation.
But any individual who has an authentic concern and care for his/her work can establish a ‘mini-professional development session.’ Just connect with an old (or a new) colleague and share ideas, resources and opportunities for the betterment of the cause. The mission in this case: Changing the lives of youth.
For breakfast, I keep having the same protein shake I posted about on my last blog!
Author Profile: @juliagabor