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Training Suggestions from a Non-Profit HR Director (Interview)

Joyce Baker is the Human Resources Director for Friendship Community Care Inc. Friendship Community Care is a private, non-profit organization serving individuals with developmental disabilities in ten counties of the Arkansas River Valley region and waiver services in the entire state. Developmental disabilities include mental retardation, epilepsy, cerebral palsy and similar disorders.

The purpose of the organization is to provide support and services to individuals and families that will allow them to be independent and productive citizens. Her primary functions include overseeing of the Human Resource department programs for the organization, implementation of management development training and human resource staff development.

For more information regarding Joyce’s experience and background please find her on LinkedIn.

Q. Almost every time that an employee leaves, their knowledge leaves with them. Also, initiatives may stall, new hires may receive insufficient on-boarding training, and performance suffers. What are organizations up against if they try to resolve that dilemma?

This is an ongoing dilemma my organization faces because of its non-profit status. We are a humanitarian organization that relies on the dedication of our workers. However, due to the size of the workload and the sometimes not so competitive pay, our employees often become “burnt out.” This of course leads to unwanted attrition, which is a high priority in my department.

Additional obstacles in my experience include a lack of training mid-level supervisors on the importance of managing their people and not the processes. Another dilemma is budgeting. With the current state of the economy, companies are expecting their workforce to do more with less.

Unfortunately training funds are usually the first to be cut because the training department is not viewed as a “profit department,” but the lack of training can impact revenue in the long term.

Q. Have you experienced any “solutions”? How have they been helpful and not helpful?

When I worked as the Continued Skills Development Manager for ConAgra Foods I implemented a mentoring program for hourly employee that worked on the dinner lines. The plant experienced a problem with safety, because employees were not trained properly.

After skills inventories were created for each job in the plant we asked for volunteers from each job classification to help with the on boarding of new employees. The new hire would be assigned a mentor for the first 2 weeks of employment. With the help of the written skills inventory for that job which included 3 components: Safety, Quality and Daily Operations – the mentor would thoroughly train the new employees.

After 30 days of employment a member of my team will observe and complete a skills validation sheet on them. If they score below 85%, we schedule additional training in the areas needed.

Personally Knowledge Management Systems have been the least effective in my world of training and development. They start out with a bang but motivating people to use them can be difficult. I have worked for several companies that have spent a ton of money on these systems and not really got any bang for the buck.

Q. What would you suggest our readers should look at?

Two of my favorite books of all time are: The One Minute Manager and Gung Ho both by Ken Blanchard.

I subscribe to both the ASTD magazine and SHRM magazine publications and use them as constant resources in my job roles. I also subscribe to Employment Law for monthly newsletter, which keeps me up to date on current events by providing real life scenarios of employment law issues.

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