Tip #664: Staff Development Options

It’s all to do with the training: you can do a lot if you’re properly trained.”  Queen Elizabeth II

Staff development is defined as the improvement of the knowledge and skills of employees within an organization by providing them with training.

Organizations that invest in staff development have found that it improves efficiency, improves productivity, ensures the continuation of institutional knowledge, reduces turnover, reduces costs, improves employee morale, and increases employee job satisfaction. Staff development may also give the organization greater scheduling flexibility and may lead to operational improvements.

Staff development can take many forms, as the following table illustrates.

Staff Development Conducted within the Organization
Mentoring A deliberate pairing of a more skilled/experienced person with a less skilled/ experienced one, with the mutually agreed goal of having the latter grow and develop specific job competencies or organizational knowledge.
Job Shadowing Working with another employee who might have a different job in hand, might have something to teach, or can help the person shadowing him or her to learn new aspects related to the job, organization, certain behaviors or competencies.
Job Rotation Employees are moved between two or more jobs in a planned manner. The objective is to expose the employees to different experiences and develop a wider variety of skills to enhance job satisfaction and to cross-train them.
Committee Assignments Cross-department committees work on a particular assignment either permanently or on a temporary basis.
Training Programs Formal skill-building learning sessions in classroom workshops sponsored by the organization.


Staff Development Conducted within the Organization
Special Teams or Task Forces Cross-department teams formed for a special purpose of working on any specific project or finding a solution to a very critical problem.
E-Learning Programs Training modules available through an online learning system.
Leadership Development Programs A series of leadership programs for selected employees with leadership potential. This may consist of scheduled formal training programs as well as a work project assignment to address an organizational issue.
Brown Bag/Lunch and Learn Sessions Training provided during lunch hours. Employees bring their own lunches to the meeting.
Book Discussion Groups Groups of people who meet regularly to discuss books that all the members have read.


Staff Development Conducted at the Job
On-the-Job Training One-on-one training located at the job site, where someone who knows how to do a task shows another how to perform it.
Job Enrichment Assigning additional responsibility normally reserved for higher level employees.
Cross-Training Teaching an employee who was hired to perform one job function the skills required to perform other job functions
Stretch Assignment A project or task given to employees which is beyond their current knowledge or skill level that places them into uncomfortable situations in order to learn and grow.
Peer Coaching Two or more employees work together to reflect on current practices; expand, refine, and build new skills; share ideas; teach one another; conduct research; or solve problems in the workplace.
Staff Meetings Staff learn from each other. Brief skill-building sessions can be built into the staff meeting time.


Staff Development Conducted Outside of the Organization
Sabbatical An extended period of leave, often one year long, taken by an employee in order to carry out projects not otherwise associated with the employee’s job. The employer may pay some or all of the wages that would have been otherwise earned or some or all of the expenses incurred.
Action Learning Small groups of colleagues meet over time to tackle real problems or issues in order to get things done; reflecting and learning with and from their experience and from each other as they attempt to change things.
Professional Associations


Opportunities to gain new knowledge and skills as well as learn how other organizations handle similar issues at conferences and regular meetings.
Academic Programs Degree or non-degree programs. Some organizations bring an instructor onto the worksite and provide time off with pay for employees to attend. Others provide a stipend to support employees who gain accreditation in skills useful to the organization.
Volunteering Employers contribute pro bono staff time, professional skills, and company resources to local organizations.

Some offer employees time off to volunteer during the work day. Others coordinate days of service for their staff to work together on large group projects.

Self-Directed Learning Employees take the initiative to diagnose their learning needs, formulate learning goals, and identify human and material resources for learning.
TED Talks Twenty-minute educational videos created from a presentation at the main TED (technology, entertainment, design) conference or one of its many satellite events around the world
Internet Resources Online educational programs.

What staff development options does your organization provide? Are there any others I should have included?

May your learning be sweet.


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