When budgets are stretched, staff development often is pushed to the back burner or cut from the budget. This is dangerous for a team that wishes to remain healthy and continue to grow. If a team is not learning and improving, it will soon struggle to maintain any level of success. It’s important, therefore, to find ways to develop people, even with stressed church budgets.
Here are 10 inexpensive, or less expensive, ways to offer development to a team:
Bring in a speaker. It may be cheaper to bring the expert to you than it is to attend a conference. Find someone from whom your team can learn, and pay his or her expenses to visit the team.
Send a representative. You may have to draw names to decide who, but pay for one person to attend a conference with a catch—they have to bring information back to share with the team.
Read a book together. The number of leadership books easily outnumber the months a team will be together. Find some good ones; read and digest them as a team.
Use local resources. Most likely, there are businesses or universities in your community that have development offices or procedures to develop people, with people already skilled who can inexpensively invest in your team.
Online or teleconference. Technology allows for some great online conferences. Gather the team around a computer, and learn without leaving the office. Additionally, if you have a telephone, arrange for a joint call with an expert, let the team ask questions, and then process the interview together.
Pool resources. Join forces with another church to accomplish any of these ideas. Learn from each other. Swap responsibilities to lead a development activity. Share the costs of bringing in a speaker, and do a combined mini-conference of your own.
Visit other churches. Allow the team to visit other churches in the area, either individually or as a group. Sometimes the quickest ways to promote change is to introduce leaders to other environments. It is a great way to develop new ideas and improve upon what you are doing as you see what others are doing firsthand. Be sure everyone goes expecting to share what they've learned with the team.
Learn from each other. Chances are good that everyone on your team has something to offer that can make the team better. Take turns sharing with each other something you already know or are learning.
Scavenger hunt. Assign each team member to find the best development idea and share it with the rest of the team. Whether online, in a book, or through networking, seek out new ideas and improvements and share it with the team. The process of sharing the idea discovered will prove to be development.
Trial and error. The best development may be putting systems in place that allow the team to take risks, but then evaluate the success or failure in an effort to learn from them and grow. Teams should be doing this anyway, but teams often fail to intentionally learn from the process of doing normal work.
Development isn’t cheap, but it’s a necessary part of continuing to be a healthy and growing team.
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and has more than 30 years of leadership experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and has been in full-time ministry for over a decade. This post is adapted from "10 Inexpensive Ways to Develop People on Your Team" and first appeared on Ron's blog, RonEdmondson.com. Used with permission.
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