Leadership and The Workplace

Nonprofit Spark

Renee McGivern

Nonprofit Spark – Training do’s and don’ts for non-profit trainers – 07/02/12

The show this week focuses on training because just about every nonprofit has someone in the organization who is training staff, volunteers, board members, service providers or clients.

I know a nonprofit that cooks and distributes meals every day. The kitchen director regularly has to train people about food safety and preparation. Another organization trains new staff about mental illness, and how best to work with the clients who come in for services. A third organization runs a massive fundraising walk and trains staff and volunteers how to manage registrations, answer participant questions, and even, perform CPR and apply First Aid.

Training is happening all the time in nonprofits, but only in rare cases is there someone on staff who has formal training in how to design great training. Inexperienced trainers talk too much and overwhelm participants with material. Inexperienced trainers don’t have participants try out what they’re learning so they discover things on their own. Inexperienced trainers are, plain and simple, not making the kind of difference that creates memorable “ah ha” moments for learners. The result is that people take a long time to catch on, they make mistakes, money and time is wasted, legal and financial risks build, and it all creates lots of frustration.

Did you know that highly skilled trainers only talk a total of 45 minutes in a day-long seminar? Did you know you should cover only three key points every 60-90 minutes? There is a lot to learn about learning!

My guest this week is Gayle Noakes, a principal and the managing director of CLA University at CliftonLarsonAllen, our Nonprofit Spark sponsor. Gayle is charged with overseeing the learning and development efforts for the firm. She consults with leaders and facilitates various meetings and events, in partnership with business leaders. She holds an MA in Human Resource Development and Certificate in Organization Development from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN.

We talk about common misconceptions managers and new trainers have about training, and offer several ideas for designing a great training program that helps people do great work.

Want to learn more about designing effective training? Gayle Noakes and her CliftonLarsonAllen colleague, LaChel Hird, and I are facilitating a follow-up webinar on July 31 from 12-1:30 p.m. EST. Learn more about Six Do’s and Don’ts of Training online; I’ll also talk about the webinar later on the show.