Most every nonprofit organization deals with the challenge of training and developing front-line staff. Introducing new systems and work processes can be an even bigger challenge due to a lack of time and a management staff that’s already over-extended.
The result is often a front-line staff that’s ill-equipped to perform efficiently and that’s generally disengaged with your organization’s mission and vision. Many times this lack of staff development leads to high turnover, which brings its own set of challenges.
Mark Sanborn’s book, The Fred Factor, outlines 4 major things any staff leader can do to transform their front-line staff into superstars or…Freds.
1. Find: Finding Freds to serve as the front-line for your organization is critical. This entails attracting superstars by providing a nurturing, team-oriented environment that attracts high-quality staff members. It also includes discovering the dormant Freds within your organization who already exhibit extraordinary leadership qualities and have a passion for your cause. Hiring Freds from the start is also a great way to ensure you’ve got the right folks for the right job.
2. Reward: Rewarding Freds has to do with recognizing the amazing and expressing sincere appreciation. Rewards, whether tangible or intangible, offer feedback and recognition for your staff members’ contributions. Annual reviews are not enough to inspire your staff to consistently add value to your organization. Rewards and recognition serve to reinforce the positive role your staff members play in your organization’s larger mission.
3. Educate: Educating and equipping your Freds to do their best work is probably the single most important thing you can do. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your front-line staff is not concerned with the organization’s strategic goals and vision. Being clear and transparent about these goals empowers staff to find ways of contributing to the bigger picture instead of getting bogged down in the day to day. Be sure, however, to incorporate a little bit of fun and allow both veteran and new staff members to contribute to the educating process.
4. Demonstrate: Demonstrating is the quintessential responsibility of all leaders. Whether it’s demonstrating a process or embodying the leadership characteristics you’d like your staff to emulate, it all starts at the top. Seek to inspire but not intimidate—making sure your example is practical and achievable. After all, the impact you have on your staff translates directly into the type of impact they’ll have with those you serve.