Kudos to those who pay for staff and board members to go to professional development trainings and conferences or provide in-house continuing learning opportunities. Investing in your people can pay handsome dividends including retention, instilling greater confidence and excitement, developing new skills, obtaining knowledge of current trends and best practices, hearing “big ideas” from leaders in your field and networking.
How do you get the most bang for the buck and really bring the learning home? Here are 5 suggestions:
- Ask your staff to present key take-a-ways and share priority implementation ideas at the next staff meeting. There is a lot of information at conferences and seminars. Help staff boil down all the ideas and make concrete next steps. What do they think should be implemented or used in the short term? What items should be put on an intermediate timing list? What longer-term ideas warrant further consideration or investigation?
- Ask board members to give an update at the next board meeting and share their most relevant learning and any materials they received that may be of use to the entire board. For my trainings, I often give worksheets or practice scenarios that can be used at home. Can you ask your board member to do a mini-training or workshop? Practice “See one, do one, teach one.”
- Create a learning library with copies of all training materials and be sure to note the conference, date and instructor.
- Ask attendees of external conferences for an overall evaluation of the experience and who else in the organization might benefit from attending in the future.
- For internal training, make sure to do an evaluation of the curriculum and presenter and ask people what other topics they would like training on.
Get the most out of continuing education and professional development opportunities by evaluating the experiences, bringing the learning home and sharing it!
Nanette Fridman, MPP, JD, is founder and principal of Fridman Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, financial resource development, governance and leadership coaching for nonprofits. She is a frequent trainer, workshop presenter, speaker and facilitator. Nanette is the author of “On Board: What Current and Aspiring Board Members Must Know About Nonprofits & Board Service.”