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The world of athletic performance is changing fast. Do you remember a time when the job of the director was to make decisions and operate as a command center with decision-making authority over the department?
I certainly do. But, those days are long gone.
Today, the modern director’s job is to plant the seeds of collaboration; to harvest the collective ideas in a personal and caring way from the top to the bottom, and from the left to the right, of the organizational flow chart. Fundamentally, we rely on directors and leadership personnel to unite the staff and strategically position personnel to improve or optimize performance.
In 2018, TeamBuildr requisitioned me to write The Strength Coach's Ultimate Guide to Hiring. Now, two years later, I am ready to share the long-overdue follow-up - Creating a System for Staff Development.
Improving staff can come by way of three options:
This five-step system will provide a framework directed toward uniting the high-performance staff by strategically developing and positioning personnel while promoting the engagement of key stakeholders.
A needs assessment helps us determine whether there is a gap between the actual and the desired performance and if so, what that gap is.
There are many tools available to assess the various aspects of an organization or department. Regardless of the tool, I recommend the staff WORK TOGETHER to answer the following questions about the department:
While working together to unravel the departmental needs assessment, the staff should be formulating a more clear picture of the individual employee’s needs, desires, and dreams.
Each staff member should conduct a self-assessment. In this way, each member becomes more valuable and more satisfied with their lives at work. Our closest relationships are excellent sources of information about work interests, values, and abilities. I recommend completing the following:
The departmental and individual needs assessments, when used collectively allows us to later set the training objectives by answering three very basic questions:
The assessment of training needs will result in a combination of training approaches that are somewhat individualized for each staff member. The development effort attempts to address the individual needs of each staff member by identifying any gap between current and future abilities, values and interests, and career aspirations.
Following the completion of the needs assessment, and after a determination is made that training can enhance an individual’s skill set and help the staff meet new, increasing, or projected demands, learning objectives are written. Learning objectives will reflect the gap(s) identified and specify exactly what area(s) the staff member needs to be able to perform, know, or demonstrate skill in upon completion of training.
The following guidelines may help when drafting learning objectives:
Well written training objectives have three major benefits:
After the needs assessment has identified a performance gap or goal, and after objectives have been set, the director and employee are ready to design the training program. Training techniques, outsourced or conducted internally, may be used while employees are either off the job or on the job. When choosing a training method the learning climate of the workplace needs to be taken into account.
“Mentoring begins with a strong corporate culture that everyone has something to teach, and everyone has something to learn.”
A commonly used approach by training directors is that of the 70-20-10 model for learning development. Developed in the 1980s, this model can provide great value when allocating time to learning activities. It states:
Off the job training includes any form of training performed away from the employee's immediate work area, either:
On the job techniques typically involve job instruction given by an employee's supervisor or an experienced co-worker. It is important to denote that directors and those in oversight positions also learn by doing. On the job methodologies include:
In the fourth step in the training system, the training of the employee is conducted. At this point, all methodologies should be finalized and training should be coordinated and scheduled.
All facilities, equipment, tools, and personnel should be aligned with the desired training outcome(s). The training program is launched, promoted, and conducted; during which time the director and/or mentor should be monitoring to ensure the program is effective (see level one below).
The fifth step in the training model is evaluation. A comprehensive evaluation strategy relies on both subjective and objective evaluation. Leadership and development expert, James Kirkpatrick, has proposed a 4-level platform for evaluating training effectiveness:
Whether part of a department audit or the renewed purpose for personnel development, as a director or leader, a career ladder (or lattice) should be provided for each staff member you hope to retain. Be especially aware of the high-achiever who may feel boredom or perhaps, underutilized; professional development opportunities and professional planning will often reinvigorate these individuals.
Do not allow good individuals to be stuck on a career plateau; if you do, you may lose them.
Finally, make sure everyone who wants one, has a suitable mentor. The investment in staff development on the front end is worth the amount of work to execute properly. It is sure to save you tenfold financially, free up time in candidate searches and off the cuff instruction, while at the same time deeply enhancing the product you and your staff deliver to your athletes.
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