We often say that our organization is only as good as our staff. It is a value that most leaders would embrace but one that many ministry leaders often ignore. If you are going to develop staff it requires that resources, people and energy must be devoted to that development and many organizations are too busy or have too many other priorities to see it happen.

The cost of a lack of development is that we eventually lose our best staff, pay a price for a lack of engagement and leave a ton of talent on the table. In the organization I serve we say that we want to surround people with so much development and support that their success is inevitable. In other words, the very culture creates the environment where success is inevitable rather than merely possible. 

There are five areas of development that are important for every staff member. Five areas of health: Physical; emotional; spiritual;  relational; and skill. Each of these domains has implications for how successful one will be in the work they are called to. Deficits in each of these five areas can keep otherwise brilliant individuals from success and indeed, set them up for failure.

In addition to these five personal areas there are three leadership areas that require attention. Self leadership - how individuals give leadership to their own lives; Team leadership - how those who lead others lead healthy teams; and Organizational leadership, how higher level leaders lead from a perspective of the whole rather than their particular area. All three are vitally important to a healthy organization but they don't take place by themselves. In fact, if one desires an aligned culture it is critical to have common practices and training in all three areas.

There are five realities to keep in mind in any development process.

First, someone has to own and give direction to staff development. Creating a culture where success is inevitable rather than merely possible means that we have a comprehensive plan, a delivery system and buy in at the highest levels. This means that a senior member of the organization gives leadership since they have the authority and influence to ensure that there is a plan along with buy in and cooperation from all supervisors. In some organizations this is called the Chief Culture Officer.

Second, this is an art as much as a science. People learn differently, have different areas of strength and weakness, are all wired differently and come to the the workplace with varies areas of experience and with their own personal baggage. 

Thus while there ought to be a common framework around key areas of testing, learning and growth, it is also an individual process that requires individual conversation, dialogue and coaching. That means that not only must there be a plan at the macro level, but there needs to be personal coaching with individual staff members on an ongoing basis. 

Unless the plan includes both common pieces that all participate in as well as individualized dialogue and attention, you are unlikely to see the results you desire. 

Third accountability for personal development needs to be part of the picture. A culture where success is inevitable rather than merely possible means that development is not optional but the responsibility of all staff. Like any other job responsibility staff members need to have their own plan and be accountable for that plan. In others words, this is not optional but development is raised to the highest level in any list of job responsibilities - for all staff. 

For the growing number of organizations that use scorecards and 90 day win cycles, the issues of development should be wrapped into that process. 

Build a system and culture where success is inevitable rather than merely possible with an ongoing paradigm for staff development and growth. You will never regret it.

  • Jun 17, 2021
  • Category: News
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