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Mel Gravely
January-13-2016

Four Ways to Grow Your Strong Early/ Head Start Team

teamworkYour team is the backbone of your Early/Head Start program. It can propel your organization to greatness, or sink it into irrelevance in your community. Building your program team wisely is perhaps the most important thing you can do to increase your chances of success, but it can also be one of the hardest. Here are four ways The Gravely Group suggests building a successful program team:

Discuss Goals

Sit down with each team member and discuss their desired career goals. It’s a good idea to keep an open mind here-people’s goals might not be what you expect. For example, you just might find out that someone has a creative side that’s underutilized in their current job. Really listen and get to know each employee, and discuss any gaps in skills or experience. At this point, you can decide together what specific things might help each individual down his or her desired path.

Identify Your Team’s Development Gaps

Think about the areas in which each of your employees could improve or grow. Sometimes they’re easy to spot-it could be training with a particular software, or your program might need a professional consultant to work into your program. However, if it’s difficult to pinpoint someone’s weak spots, the simplest thing you can often do is to ask.

Establish Specific Training Objectives

Once you’ve identified where your program can grow, it’s not enough to tell them to develop themselves. You’ll get the best results if you create very specific training objectives. These objectives should include the action desired, a deadline, and the method of evaluation, which clearly shows how an employee can be successful at a particular task.

Create the Right Training Plan

Once you’ve identified the specific skills needed for each person’s career path and laid out some objectives, you can create a training plan. Everyone learns differently, so these are going to vary by person. After you have the plan in place, it’s imperative to provide feedback and consistently check in on their progress and learning. If your team member is still in the development stage, remember to informally check in more often and offer encouragement.

If this sounds like a lot of work-well, that’s because it is. It’s definitely easy to shove staff development to the back burner while you’re occupied with getting your day-to-day tasks done. But don’t underestimate the benefits of this win-win activity. If done right, staff development rewards you with an autonomous team that’s happy and motivated-and your program goals and objectives are met.

For some fun activities you can do with your team, see Three team-building exercises to try in your next Head Start meeting.

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