Staff Development - Is it in Your Culture?

It seems to be the question on everyone’s mind lately; where can we get really good staff training? It’s encouraging that people working in the field of employment inclusion are interested and invested in increasing the knowledge and skills of professionals on their teams. A great workshop, training session or conference can be really valuable in terms of igniting passion and providing new perspectives or insights. The benefits of these forms of professional development can also be somewhat ‘transient’ however with much of the passion and knowledge growing stale in the face of workload, rigid work cultures and an absence of dialogue about the ideas learned in training.

In the Employment Inclusion Facilitation training my colleagues and I do, we really try to extend the stimulation of learning and dialogue outside of the training sessions. Participants complete and submit  ‘real work’ assignments which extend the training and provide opportunities for feedback and critiques of action plans, resumes and ‘marketing pitches.’ We also invite participants to join our employment inclusion group on LinkedIn to share ideas, successes and challenges. An ongoing networking forum can provide some essential elements to develop a ‘community of practice’ and keep learning alive.

At its best however, staff training and development are reflected in a ‘culture of learning’ at the workplace. Training and mentorship plans (outlining job-shadow activities as well as knowledge and skills that new staff must be able to demonstrate at three months of employment) are a good start. Far beyond this, however, great things happen when we make time for the exploration of new ideas and collectively identify how to put knowledge into practice (knowledge mobilization). Leadership must foster a culture of learning and continuous improvement which encourages and supports reading, networking, critical thinking and the ‘constructive challenging’ of our work culture. The most ‘developed’ teams and services are those which are free to self-evaluate and put knowledge into practice when it comes to better ways of achieving outcomes, serving people and working together.

A work culture which is willing to question and abandon the things that aren’t working  - while identifying and implementing strategies and practices that DO work – is accomplishing a level of professional development and team building that no workshop can compete with.   

Read and Research – Network – Embed Learning and Critical Thinking in the Workplace Culture

Sean McEwen - March 2014

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