- Develop A Program That Empowers Staff And Improves Departments
Scheduling Time For Professional Development
In the complicated mire of running a department, scheduling time for activities such as professional development can often be one of the main impediments. To managers and supervisors looking to take this step, I would offer two tips.
First, look at what the rest of your organization is doing. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. As a supervisor in a school district, this was the easiest route for me to plan my professional development days.
For example, each month the teachers in our district have a contractual professional development day, while students have the day off. Traditionally, custodial used these days to catch up on cleaning and other departmental needs. Now we use these days as the bread and butter of our professional development class scheduling.
Second, don’t be afraid to be creative in your scheduling. Being creative and putting in effort to make the professional development available to your employees shows that you are invested in getting people engaged. It does not have to be a day off or during a break, but it could be scheduled at a time that simply has a lighter workload, or even a regular day where you are able to preschedule either reduced staffing or substitute staffing to pick up the slack.
Following up on your professional development program is the final key to making the program thrive. The basic premise for this final step is making sure the program is serving the intended purpose. “Is this program making our employees more effective in their positions?” and “Are the participants giving positive feedback regarding their feelings on the program?”
Each manager or supervisor will have to come up with their own way to gauge program effectiveness, but there are general tools we can use. For example, there is value to direct observations of employees, surveying program participants and performance indicators that we already use to measure performance. Remember when doing this, you can’t be afraid of negative feedback. Negative feedback will often tell you more about how to improve the program.
The bigger question is what do you do with the information once you have it? How do you analyze it so as to make improvements in your program? Sometimes instructors who we think will be great in the classroom put the participants to sleep, while the maintenance guy teaching the small motors class really comes through with a great class that everyone ends up loving. Don’t be prideful and don’t be afraid to make changes.
There are good and bad ways to run professional development, but I would say there is no real wrong way. Even an effort that goes badly or seems to be ineffective could possibly have positive far-reaching effects that you may never know about.
As someone who benefited from strong professional development as a substitute custodian, I can say that very rarely have I ever attended a class or seminar that I did not take at least some good nugget of information from. Maybe it was a point I’d follow up on later, or some insight that gave me perspective on a project I was working on, but there was always something.
The point is, if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. If you are going to implement a professional development program, make it a program that empowers your people and improves your department.
Chris Long is the custodial supervisor at Edmonds School District in Lynnwood, Washington, where he oversees the staff responsible for the day-to-day cleanliness of the school facilities.
Develop A Program That Empowers Staff And Improves Departments
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