<Image courtesy of DawnAllyn>
One of the things I very much appreciate about my current place of employment is the value they place on training. I’ve had jobs before where training consisted of being given a list of duties/responsibilities and being told to “go and do.” Where I’m working now, however, places such an emphasis on properly training their management staff that I spent the entirety of my first two weeks learning hands-on how to function in my new role. This season of training culminated in a daylong ‘evaluation’ of sorts wherein a training manager made sure I knew what I was supposed to know; it was made clear even then there will be other focused learning opportunities along the way.
Granted, I was hired because there was a sense of chemistry and I have a certain skill-set which appealed to the person responsible for finding a good fit for the open position. But certain skills and being something of a people-person only go so far… so before I was to be trusted with higher levels of responsibility, I had to be trained. All of this quality (and costly) training did more than just prepare me for job responsibilities—it demonstrated that I had value and granted accountability.
I feel valuable—this company invested hours and hours and hours of payroll in me knowing they wouldn’t see immediate return on that investment. People took the time from their other responsibilities to make sure I was equipped to succeed. In doing this, the company began forging a relationship from day one with a new employee, making it less likely in the high-turnover world of retail that I would leave before bringing any value to the team.
I’m also accountable—all of that training and being evaluated means I should know how to operate according to the standards of the company. The organization fulfilled its part by ensuring I was given the tools and understanding necessary to fulfill the functions of my job. That means I now need to fulfill those same functions according the standards and practices outlined during the training process. This way, I know when I’m doing well without anybody needing to tell me (although it’s still nice to hear)… and I know when I’m not doing so well. There’s no question about whether enduring the consequences of personal error is fair or not because I cannot claim ignorance or faulty education. This kind of training/accountability lays the framework for doing better and better work as well as bringing more and more value to the organization as our relationship continues.
Too often in organizations and ministry we are so excited that someone wants to serve we train them with the ‘go and do’ mentality, heaping task upon task which must be done upon them… rather than cultivating them to take on real responsibility.
What if we took more time to invest in our workers and volunteers—showing them value, ensuring the organizational culture and standards were being modeled and providing boundaries of accountability while helping to define a ‘win’ both for them and us. This type of approach is different depending on the organization and the person being trained but it means a greater likelihood of reproducing quality leadership and having confidence in those who serve. This kind of training is certainly costly and it is a little risky (what if the person we invest so much in leaves? takes what we taught and uses it somewhere else? is a jerk?)… but the potential reward far outshines the risk.