Learning and development – both formal and informal – is critical to the current and future success of your organisation. We learn informally all the time, through work activities and new experiences. Formal, structured development activities such as induction ensure that employees receive the learning they need, as well as specialist knowledge and skills development.
Make sure that you clearly link learning and development activities to the achievement of your strategic objectives. This means thinking about the knowledge, skills and experience you will need for the organisation in the future and identifying skills gaps.
A basic skills audit of the people in your organisation will help you to identify these and will include the following questions:
- What skills does this employee have?
- What will they need in the future?
- What are the gaps?
- How might these gaps be filled?
Learning and development needs are often identified during appraisal and through regular one-to-one supervision meetings.
Opportunities to allow staff development include:
- attending conferences, courses and workshops (academic/vocational)
- coaching, mentoring, buddying
- seeking advice from others, work shadowing (inside or outside your organisation)
- internal knowledge-sharing events
- job rotation
- new assignments and work experience
- reading books and articles, watching DVDs.
You can maximise the benefit from such activities and reinforce the benefits of your investment by briefing staff in advance and taking an interest when employees return from any development activity. Also ensure that they are given opportunities to apply and share the learning with the team.
The organisation also needs to 'learn' from things that have gone well or not so well, from successes and challenges, rather than merely praising or attributing blame. Take time with colleagues to consider what might be done differently next time.
Source: Published with permission from Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness.This material is taken from Tools for Success: doing the right things and doing them right", published in October 2008. Download or buy your copy from Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness.