I am a huge fan of the team at the Foellinger Foundation in Fort Wayne (unfortunately, they fund in Allen County only). They recognize that it takes strong nonprofit organizations to deliver quality programs and to create meaningful results. Their refrain is that they support effective organizations who are “Well-managed, Mission Driven, Results-Oriented”. To that end, Foellinger Foundation brings in a nationally known speaker each year to present to an opening session audience of 100’s of board and staff leaders followed by a workshop that delves deeper into the subject – but that’s not all. Following the workshop, they offer the opportunity for many organizations to receive a grant to implement the ideas and strategies that have just been explored.
This year their guest was Lee Cockerell, former Disney executive and author of the book “Creating Magic”. This week, I wanted to focus on his theme that stood out most for me – “Staff Training is not the same as Staff Development”. Lee highlighted that these concepts tend to be lumped together, even thought of as the same thing. He emphasized that they are dramatically different and how your organization approaches them could determine whether you are creating “Disney Memories” or Delta Airlines Baggage embarrassments.
He explained that staff training is what you do to equip and prepare a staff member to successfully and effectively perform the basics of their job and then keeping them current on the skills needed to perform the role. Small nonprofits, in particular, struggle with this aspect of appropriate staff training and will sometimes wear “we do on-the-job training” as a badge of honor. Lee noted that at Disney, no employee (cast member) is turned loose on the public until they have been trained and tested on it. What would it take for your organization to excel at equipping your people to do their current jobs well?
In contrast, Mr. Cockerell shared that staff development is individualized, one-to-one, focused on potential (expanding their job or on preparing for another role), and usually manager initiated. In too many organizations, nonprofit and business, this thinking is relegated to an annual performance evaluation exercise that often results in employee’s feeling that their supervisor doesn’t care enough about them to put real effort into helping them improve. Lee emphasized that many of his best relationships are with former employees that he was candid with about their weaknesses and how they could improve. What would it take for your organization to excel at preparing your people for additional opportunities or increased impact?
Share your insights.