Running a business means you need your A team around you – both employees and volunteers.  It doesn’t matter how well-designed your programs are, how snazzy your marketing collateral is or  even how much money you raise if your people are sub-par. People are your most valuable assets and leadership training and development is required to reach your lofty goals.

So how do your team members be their best?

In an organization with a social mission, your team can’t be less than excellent because too many others are counting on you. You’re not selling widgets, you’re changing lives. Do you want a team with a lackadaisical attitude? Do you want average performers? As you strive to meet your double bottom line, do you want mediocrity?

Investing in your people takes time and money and here is how your organization will benefit when you do it:

* Your team will feel valued which increases satisfaction.
* Communication, trust, and pride increase because of the spirit of collaboration.
* Professional development results in a higher level of staff retention so you can spend less time recruiting and more time moving toward excellence.
* You are also developing bench strength and building this team allows you to call on reserves if someone is out or moves on.
* They will gain confidence and feel empowered to thrive in their roles so you don’t have to spend as much time on personnel issues!
* Your team will be able to help train and lead others who come on board.
* Your organization will gain a reputation for investing in their people, and for being a great place to work and volunteer and you’ll attract more talent.

The Goal Is to Create a Culture of Lifelong Learning

You have a responsibility to see that the business is successful and you don’t accomplish this alone. The more capable the people, the more successful the organization will become so let’s thoughtfully invest in leadership development.

3 Investment Strategies That Build Your People Power

1. You have one chance to make a great first impression. Remember the first few weeks on your new job? The first time you stepped into a board room? Many of us decide right up front how we feel about an organization. You can’t over prepare for a successful onboarding process. Are communication channels clear? Do they understand how they can advance in the company? Have you set crystal clear goals and do they know how their work connects to them? Did you spend any time on the culture of the organization or just the facts and logistics? Next – review your orientation process and ask a few other members of your team, in various roles, to give you feedback on how to strengthen it.

2. Focus broader and longer term. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone knew how to do everything and was motivated to do anything?? It’s unlikely you can create that situation but when was the last time you focused on cross training? I bet you have folks right now who would be eager to learn something new, even if it’s outside their stated scope of responsibility. When you present opportunities to broaden knowledge, many folks will be interested. And if you think about succession planning, not only have you let your team know you believe they have the capacity to do different things, you’re also creating a pipeline for potential future leaders. It may be interesting to observe who rises to the occasion in a different role.  Next – ask yourself  how you can create opportunities for cross training?

3. One size does not fit all. You may be familiar with the 70-20-10 learning model based on research by Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger. The concept is that a blend of different approaches can provide powerful learning.  It states that 10% of adult learning comes from formal training (webinars, conferences, in-house trainings, college, etc.), 20% from coaching (professional feedback rooted in guided discovery techniques) and 70% is experiential (real life situations that challenge us to solve a problem or learn a new skill). There are pros and cons to each of these – some cost money (or could you secure a volunteer or donor to offset costs?); some take a fair amount of time (how much time will you waste if you do nothing?); and some may be risky (try to lower that risk so the new person isn’t thrown into the proverbial fire).  Next – ensure each person on your team has a written training and development plan that incorporates all three of these approaches.

Strengthening the collective wisdom of all players can significantly influence how, and at what pace, you achieve success. For more, read about leadership development in my book “The Impact Triangle.”

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”
Harvey Firestone.