Today and tomorrow my employer is conducting some in-house professional development for all the employees across our Social Services department. It’s split over the two days so that we can continue to offer front-line services to our users, while at the same time giving staff the opportunity to take part and learn.
Staff react to these training opportunities in various ways, as I suspect they do in other organizations; perhaps yours. There are those who will be resistant to training; they feel they’ve got better things to do and a day away from doing their job just has them falling further behind. There’s the staff who are apathetic; not really caring one way or the other. Then there’s those who enjoy the day away from the daily routine but aren’t sure what they’ll benefit from. You’ll also find there are those who truly embrace training; the chance to learn something new and they’ll show enthusiasm and gratitude for the personal development training provides.
Good organizations develop their staff, as they recognize the benefits to continually providing upgrading opportunities. Better trained staff keep up with best practices, learn new techniques and strategies so they can do better on the job, and employees tend to return benefits to the employer through working more efficiently.
Training is an organizations way of investing in their most precious asset; their employees. Off-site training is often favoured by most; the chance to get away from the physical office or work place, where the distraction of nipping back to check emails and answer a few calls isn’t present. This way employees can relax more, immerse themselves in the content and network with their peers better.
I’m so looking forward to today because I’m co-presenting with 4 other employees; 3 of whom are from other offices and who up until recently, I have had almost no interaction with. It’s been really good to get this group together, plan out our topic and content, divide up who will speak to what and pull everything together. As a training facilitator, I’ve had the chance to mentor my colleagues, and I’m really excited for them as they are each getting a little out of their comfort zones and standing up in front of their co-workers. That takes some bravery the first time your name is called and up you get. I’m so excited for them.
Our presentation is called, “Making the Most of the Meeting”. You see there is a shift going on where I work in how some of us go about doing our jobs. We work in the field of Social Services, and many of our staff have front-line contact with recipients of social assistance. With each meeting of those recipients, there’s an opportunity to support forward movement; sometimes towards a job of course, but there are other goals people move toward that are required before realizing a sustainable job and the financial freedom it will bring.
Looking at things holistically, it could be a person first needs basic supports like food and housing or help with an addiction issue. Maybe the thing they are focused on is completing an education, a better relationship with a family member or getting connected to the community in which they’ve recently moved to. Focusing solely on a job search is missing the chance to lay the groundwork required to successfully reach that long-term goal. Of course if they are looking for work and can do so with the focus required, that’s great.
Our presentation is all about opening up that dialogue, establishing some trust and finding a way to connect with the person where they are at. We’ve got 4 specific resources to distribute; simple to use, and while by no means mandatory, it is hoped that by providing every attendee with something to take away, they’ll be equipped to try things out and see if they help move the discussion. Leaving with something in hand that is tried and works hopefully inspires staff to pull them out as they feel the timing is right.
If you’ve ever had your job undergo a shift in the job description, you probably had some new training and coaching to increase the odds of success. Without that support, you’d likely fail more than succeed; it would take longer to change over and some would resist the change with all the energy they could muster.
Where I work, such a shift is occurring and will continue to do so as we respond to changes in the needs of those we serve. Our front-line staff will focus more on helping people move forward (whatever ‘forward’ means to each person) themselves rather than exclusively referring them on to others for specific help – say with resume writing. While it’s great having a team of ‘resume experts’, if everyone knows enough of best practices out there to make a few good suggestions, the person receiving help gets help in a time-sensitive way.
Training shares skills; it equips staff with more tools which they can then draw on when appropriate, which makes the experience better for the client, customer, end-user etc. When the person you are designing for benefits, the ripple effect carries over to the person delivery the service, the organization and the larger community.
Wish us the best today. Here’s to hoping we impart our knowledge well enough to inspire our colleagues. I expect a great day ahead!