The urgency and importance of our conservation work requires all of us to do our very best work. I know you want yourself and your organization to be as effective as you can be. This is a good time to look up and out a bit, and consider if you have fallen into a rut. What would be possible for you and your organization if you consistently challenged yourselves to develop and improve? If you had a truly feedback-rich culture, what might you be able to accomplish?
At TREC, our goal is to provide top-notch, premier capacity building services. We think you, our clients, deserve the very best so we’ve set a really high bar. For TREC to be at our very best, we know we need to continually work to improve our organization, our offerings, and ourselves. We have challenged ourselves to continually improve, and we are developing TREC as a learning organization.
I know that many of you have already begun implementing approaches to become more of a learning organization. Here are some of the things we do at TREC that will hopefully add to what you are already doing.
1. Like many things, it starts at the top. As leaders, you need to model self-awareness and a desire to improve. You need to freely admit mistakes and show vulnerability. And, very importantly, continually ask for feedback, listen for feedback, appreciate feedback, and act upon the feedback you receive.
2. Give staff freedom to innovate and room to fail. Recognize and celebrate innovation as a learning opportunity. Encourage sharing and discussion of aspects that were less successful to identify next steps and possible improvements, and frame these improvements as new opportunities.
3. Work with each staffer at your organization to create their plan for development. Each person should be clear on what they are working on to improve themselves as staff and leaders, and what they are working on to improve their programs. Share the development plans with others in the organization so staff can support each other as they work on improvements. Remember the organization needs to provide the resources to support staff development plans including paying for professional development training and fostering mentoring relationships.
4. Create a robust staff evaluation process which supports each person’s development. At TREC, the staff evaluation process starts with a discussion with a small group of colleagues. Then, informed by that feedback, each staffer creates their development plan, or action plan. The plan is then shared, added to, and completed with the supervisor, and then shared with the whole staff.
5. Take every opportunity you can to ask for feedback from your members, constituents, stakeholders and those whom you serve. Listen. Make it safe to offer both positive AND negative feedback. Get curious and ask for more information and clarification. Act upon the feedback you receive so that folks see that it is worth the effort to give it.
These are practices that we are implementing at TREC. This helps us to unlock the potential of our staff, and innovate our programs and services. And, we are just beginning on this journey. We have much more growing ahead of us. We learn from you, our clients, every day. Keep the ideas and the feedback coming.