Ian McLintock: How to better support staff development at a lower cost

Ian McLintock, founder of the Charity Excellence Framework talks through some of the ways you can better support staff, even if you have a small budget.
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Staff are our greatest asset and supporting them to develop is an investment, not a cost. But, we're all time-poor and money is short.

Have an effective process

It goes without saying that a structured appraisal and development process is essential to the above. It doesn't have to be time consuming or complicated, but you do have to make time to genuinely engage and listen to individuals, not just chat and fill the paperwork in.

You should be clear on where your organisation needs to invest most in developing skills and experience.

Everyone should have the opportunity to undertake development, but the funds and time available are limited. More importantly, people already have busy lives and not everyone wants to be a CEO. Mandatory training aside, make sure that what you're offering people is what they actually want, so you both get the most from it.

As part of this, review the individual’s performance in the light of his or her next year’s objectives, to identify any skill gaps or opportunities to develop.

Be clear on the best way to achieve that

Training courses, such as learning how to carry out risk assessments or use Excel, are useful for teaching people techniques. However, often what they need/want is as much about developing their experience as learning techniques. How to do it, rather than what to do.

Select the option(s) that best meet their needs

In-house presentations. Invite a member of staff to present a paper, or talk about their work, at an executive or board level meeting, to give better insight into each other's work. It's also a good way to begin to improve diversity by getting young people, or individuals from a minority into a room of older, often white men.

In-house meetings. Inviting them to attend a meeting for a different function helps to expand their experience and break down/prevent silo working.

Learn ahead of the curve. If you have a new project, find an organisation that's further down the road, or already doing it well and arrange a visit, or to attend their project meetings. Learn from their good ideas and from their mistakes, rather than make them yourself.

Let Them Step-up. Give an individual a project to lead in an area in which they have a particular interest, allow him/her to chair meetings or participate in recruitment interviews.

Mentoring. Is usually less expensive than coaching and is often free.

WCOMC offer chair and CEO/Exec mentoring and, for small charities, there’s also the Cranfield Trust.

Lloyds Bank also offer free charity mentoring in a range of areas from strategy/business planning to HR, income generation, finance & marketing. Then there's the IoF, Elisher Foundation and TPP for fundraisers.

If you're in charity retail, the CRA have a mentoring platform and Charity Comms offer a mentoring service for their members. And, why not consider becoming a mentor yourself?

I've gained at least as much myself, as I've given others. We all have a responsibility to help bring on the leaders and experts of tomorrow.

Free or Low Cost Training. Many organisations run free, or at least low-cost training. It's often management who attend, but it doesn't have to be. Try the FSI (small charities) for face-to-face training and workshops, or the DSC, but there are lots more. And, most umbrella bodies run their own, such as the IoF for fundraising.

Free Events & Seminars. Many of the commercial companies working in the sector run free events/seminars. I've recently been to seminars on innovation, social media, IP and contracts - all free.

Free Online Learning. The Open University Open Learn programme has a whole series of free online training courses, of up to 8 weeks, including on the voluntary sector, finance and team working, with free participation statements.

Or you can try the Philanthropy University or Change The Game Academy for a huge range of charity courses and toolkits. For digital skills, from basic to advanced, try Accenture. Or, Google offer a range of free online courses, from data tech, to digital marketing and career development, some with certification.

Online training/videos. Free Talks are short online videos presented by solicitors about common legal issues faced by small not-for-profit organisations. More generally, there are Ted Talks and Mind Tools, and CLS have a vast number, all free. Failing that, try YouTube. For small charities, the FSI offers online learning via videos and webinars.

We have boundless talent and passion, a desperate need for effective leaders and a responsibility to the future to create them. We need to stop thinking about why we can't and focus instead on how we will. All we really need is a bit of creative thinking and to open the door to responsibility for the young and those from minority groups. They'll do the rest.

This piece was originally posted on LinkedIn.

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