I saw it on Facebook – and I liked it. I had heard it before, and I’ve heard managers say the first line with heartfelt belief, and I can understand why.
What if we spend the time and money to train our staff … and they leave?
The statement is a logical outgrowth of fiscal responsibility and that’s a real concern. There is a cost to training. What if we make this investment in our staff, including volunteers, and they up and leave? OUCH! In many interpretive sites we have full-time staff, part-time staff, and volunteers. Certainly the part-time staff and volunteers might move around – a lot. They join us for a few months then find a better paying position or leave for a variety of other reasons. That’s the way it works, unless there’s an intervention!
The Facebook quote I read recently continues:
Manager: What if we spend the time and money to train our staff – and they leave?
Training officer: What if we don’t train our staff – and they STAY?
Surprisingly, just days after reading this on Facebook, a training manager told me he couldn’t hire me to do a training workshop for his educators and volunteer docents because his boss said: We have a large staff and a lot of turnover. What if we spend the money to train our staff – and they leave?
Given the scope of most corporation or agency budgets, good training doesn’t cost that much, yet reaps significant benefits. By spending relatively little time and money to train staff well, employees are much more likely to stay, and be much better employees, to boot. They will be the ones we want to stay.
Good training goes beyond teaching practices and procedures. It’s an intervention that changes normal patterns. Good training builds trust and loyalty as it teaches your philosophy. It creates community among the staff and establishes your agency culture within each employee – full-time, part-time or volunteer. Training leads to each employee finding a common set of goals and their own purposeful relationship to your mission and operation. All this leads to building a team, staff retention, customer satisfaction, and it increases the total success of your organization.
Training is not only for those persons doing a particular task for your organization, but should include the chain of command that directs and evaluates the work. In the field of interpretation, interpretation training is not only for interpreters. If we train interpreters, educators, docents, and first-contact staff in the best practices of interpretation and customer service, their managers should also be trained to understand those best practices and to manage to achieve them. This makes the entire organization stronger and better equipped to set goals, provide direction, perform to the fullest, and evaluate success.
I have seen this happen using the National Association for Interpretation’s Certificated Interpretive Guide training program. After using it as a foundation for interpretation training for several years, we approached management about using the same training for managers. The concept was that if manager are to manage interpretation they need to understand what we teach our interpreters. There was some consternation about managers having to take interpretation training, but I pointed out that this would not be interpretation training for interpreters, but would focus on techniques for managing the interpretation function of the park, complete with goal setting, teamwork, monitoring, and evaluation. The argument worked, and over a three-year period all state park superintendents completed the CIG program, with a lot of emphasis on how to use the CIG concepts to manage park interpretation. This put managers and their park interpreters on the same page. Along the way we built a team, strengthened agency culture, and generated understanding and support for interpretation. It was all good.
The question: What if we spend the time and money to train our staff and they leave? is a glass half empty. Let’s fill it up. If we train our staff well they will stay, and we will all be better for it!