One of the challenges of growing a non-profit organization is realizing that in order to maintain its values, be contextual to the needs of our clients, and keep the momentum moving forward, there must be consistent training. As I contemplate all Lakeside does in a year just in training, the effort is quite extensive.
On the one hand there’s the orientation of new staff. There are so many challenges helping new employees learn about our culture. They’ve come from a variety of backgrounds and other organizations that have different approaches, values, and ways of dealing with staff and client issues. These environments shape the beliefs, trust, and philosophy of new staff. There’s always a period of transition as they adapt to our environment through training in our methods, our systems, and overall differences in how we operate our programs.
Secondly there are the varied needs of the continuing staff. As a result of our feedback from our staff in the previous year, we make programmatic changes we believe will support them to better meet the needs of those we serve. These changes require a new level of training for how we improve our programs and approach our activities in new ways. It takes strategic planning, implementation, and constant new practices which need to be evaluated.
There’s also required training mandated by our governing bodies at the state level. For safety and to meet certain needs consistently, we must take our staff through specific training to qualify us to work with students. This training takes a great deal of time and effort as we begin each school year.
As we confront specific issues like trauma, mental health, drug use, special education needs, etc. there are a myriad of updates our staff have to be aware of as we encounter these issues. That’s where we often bring in outside experts who can update us on current trends of some of the most volatile risk factors in our youth culture. It’s extremely helpful for our counselors and teachers to know what students are dealing with in their schools and community.
Finally, there is leadership training and support that equips our leaders to work through the complex management of our staff within our environment with its own set of a number of challenges, stressors, and trauma. The ongoing support and encouragement of our leaders sets the tone for how we manage our staff, programs, and organization. The consistency of our values very much depends on how well we train and support our leadership teams as they supervise and guide our staff in the everyday implementation of care for our students and families.
Just the scheduling of all of this is a significant task. Developing effective curriculum and training tools is an ongoing challenge that needs to be thought through carefully, taking a great deal of time and effort. The logistics of bringing people together in well-equipped facilities takes support staff who handle all of those details. As non-profit leaders recognize the intense training needs of our staff and organizations, it must become a priority in how we support our mission through education and intentional support.