Staff development can be thought of as the systematic development of competence.
Competence is the knowledge, skills and attitudes (habits of thought) required to perform a task to a set standard.
Organizations (and the work groups within them) exist to achieve objectives. It is widely believed that aligning individual, team and organization objectives is one of the best ways to improve work-related performance.
Ask any supervisor, manager or leader what one of their biggest challenges is and you will probably hear, "getting people to work together effectively".
This is especially true with cross-functional and inter-departmental work groups; conflict of interest and working towards different objectives can make it very difficult, if not impossible, to get people working as a team.
This is where core values can help.
Core values cut across all barriers. They can be thought of as a person's central belief system that guides and shapes all work-related behavior. Therefore, having a set of common core values within a work group lays the foundation for better communication, teamwork and problem solving.
Staff development activities.
In my experience, the main problem with staff development activities such as finding a way to cross a river or working as pit crew, is that the lessons learned are soon forgotten in the workplace because there is little to no practical application.
Therefore, to be effective, staff development activities need to be directly related to the work place and learning must have a practical application on a daily basis (it takes about 30 to 60 days to form a new habit).
So here is an 4-step process for working with core values that will have a work group, even a dysfunctional work group, performing like a team.
Set a task for each individual member of the work group to find answers to the following questions:
- What is a core value?
- How do core values work?
- What do core values do for a work group?
- What makes core values useful in work-related behavior?
Facilitate a meeting of all work group members to discuss their findings for Step 1. Schedule the meeting to last just 30 to 40 minutes. The goal here is to have the group write their own common definition for a core value.
You want to end up with a statement something like this.
"A core value can be thought of as … (teams definition in their own words)".
This process will force the group to begin to find common ground around the concept of using core values as a basis for their work-related behavior.
Even a disparate group will be forced to find a consensus. Ask each member of the group to begin thinking about the core values.
At this point it will also be important for the group to know about using just one word to "name" a core value.
Schedule a second meeting for the following week to last around 30 to 40 minutes.
The aim is to briefly discuss the group's ideas about the core values that would like to adopt.
Have the group to build a list of about 8 to 10 core values.
The goal is for the group to then "vote" for the 3 core values they would like to have.
Each member of the team has 3 votes. They can vote for 3, 2 or 1 core value as they choose.
Again, this activity is building consensus.
Using the three core values that have been chosen, set a task for each member of the group to think about what those values will look like in practice. Have they already seen these values in action? If so when and what was the output. Have they experienced a time when these values could have been used to achieve a better result?
Schedule a third and final meeting in this series to last around 30 to 40 minutes.
Note: Scheduling short meetings at regular intervals is getting the group in the habit of meeting consistently, getting down to business and seeing an income (something they may not have experienced before?).
The purpose of this final meeting is 4-fold.
- Have a brief discussion of what their variable core values will look like in practice.
- Rate each core value out of 10 for "where are we now?"
- Rate each core value out of 10 for "where are we going to be in 6 months' time?"
- Map out a 6-month action plan for moving from "where we are now" to "where we want to be".
At the end of this meeting the group will have a plan for implementing their own unique set core values and holding each other accountable for using them.