April 01, 2016

People Development: Paying it forward

One of the most critical things that organizations can do to increase staff motivation, loyalty and commitment is simple — invest in their learning. Sadly, in tight budget times, this tends to be one of the first areas that is viewed as dispensable. I disagree. If we don’t invest in people, they will not invest in us; moreover, they may become frustrated, take their jobs for granted and disengage from their work. While this is true for all business sectors, it is incredibly important in education and out-of-school-time organizations because we are constantly in the spotlight for our work with youth.  

At the Tiger Woods Learning Center, we view people development as an integral part of our culture and have incorporated learning opportunities through weekly staff updates, monthly staff meetings and annually as a way to focus everyone on our goals. Our hope is that every staff member has an opportunity to learn, build new skills and be a strong representation of our brand.  

Research confirms that time spent on professional learning leads to increased student outcomes, regardless of content. As educators learn, they, in turn, pay it forward in their work with students, families and one another. Here are a few ideas from our playbook that you might consider:

  1. Participation in seminars and workshops: Whether your organization hosts this for the entire staff onsite or a few employees attend a local professional seminar, the opportunity to learn new skills or sharpen existing abilities is always appreciated. We encourage staff to share what they learn at regular staff meetings so that we can all learn.
  2. Innovation field trips to local companies and organizations: Particularly in educational organizations, visiting other companies or youth programs provides inspiration for program improvement. A recent innovation visit to a tech company led our staff to develop a new wearable technology curriculum for use with our youth after school.
  3. Establish peer-to-peer coaching: We teach our students that they will undoubtedly need to work with others in any job they choose to pursue. We model this by encouraging staff to buddy up and become critical observers so that we cultivate a “learn and improve” culture.
  4. Develop a formal mentoring program: This is a great way to “on-board” new staff and help them assimilate to organizational culture. We value learning for our staff and view mentoring as an opportunity to create a pipeline of talent that we can call upon as new projects arise. A focused book study on leadership gave members of our staff the opportunity to interact with senior managers in a new way and learn about the intricacies of leadership and management. 
  5. Provide opportunities for leadership: Whether your organization is large or small, staff members appreciate when they are asked to contribute and lead efforts that benefit the entire organization. We are extremely intentional about people development, and our ideas for training are generated not only by our observations but also through conversation, staff surveys and individual requests. The result of this approach has been high staff retention, strong morale, focused vision and continued passion for our work. 

Champions of the unexpected for 20 years.