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Secrets to Ending the Re-Training Cycle in Your Association

Written by Julie Dietz on July 13, 2016 at 8:30 AM

The best secrets to ending the retraining cycle in your association.

Have you ever been frustrated by employee turnover and the training that inevitably comes after you finally find a replacement?

An employee takes an opportunity outside the organization, you get your new membership director and supporting staff trained on your AMS, member needs, and organizational policies - then the dreaded conversation happens again. Another employee is leaving, and you have to start all over.

We've all been in this position. A co-worker leaves, your boss is promoted, or someone new comes in, and everyone scrambles to cover essential tasks while searching for and training new employees.

It's frustrating, and unfortunately much too common in the association industry. High turnover has led to a training and re-training cycle that only grows as employees come into your organization, change roles, and choose to pursue other opportunities.

With so much to learn about your association's mission, structure, industry dynamic, member needs, and technology systems, this re-training cycle can be expensive and time consuming.

Fortunately, re-training doesn't have to be a fact of life for associations. You can escape re-training and instead give your employees opportunities for skills advancement that helps your organization and improves employee retention. In fact, research from advisory firm Bassi Investments found that opportunities for learning and development is one of the most important predictors of whether an employee stays with an organization.

To give your staff the training they crave without breaking the budget or taking up large chunks of valuable time, you just need the right mindset and training programs.

Here are five secrets to breaking the training and re-training cycle in your organization, while still teaching your employees the skills they need to succeed.

5 Ways to Break the Re-Training Cycle at Your Association

Method #1) Change Your Mindset

Traditionally, employees have received the most extensive training on organizational policies and job duties when they first enter a role. Training often drops off after that. In today's constantly shifting world, however, that mindset is no longer effective. Initial training or re-training for new positions must become ongoing training.

Ongoing training helps people keep up with industry changes that affect the needs of your members and, by association, the needs of your organization. Consistently keeping your staff updated on new technology, industry trends, and member needs with ongoing training will give your employees the tools they need to do their job well.

While you should train your staff on a continuing basis, you don't need to do everything on your own. Many technology providers, such as AMS vendors, offer ongoing training. Their training will keep staff up to date on new features, as well as help them better use the tools already at their disposal.

Method #2) Start Cross-Training

Part of the reason why the re-training cycle is so vicious is because associations have to train employees when they take on a different role, or take over the responsibilities of co-workers who leave the organization. Cross-training helps to alleviate this problem by ensuring that workers know the procedures and have the ability to perform well in multiple positions.

When you make cross-training part of your culture, then multiple employees have the skills needed to do any single role. When one employee leaves, another team member can step in to handle their essential tasks. When a team member shifts positions, they'll already have a solid basis on which to start their new role, and your training needs will be greatly reduced.

Method #3) Institute Mentor and Reverse Mentor Programs

Mentor and reverse mentor programs take the pressure of ongoing training and cross-training off of your organization. They empower employees by giving them the responsibility of ensuring everyone on has the skills they need to succeed.

Mentor programs, the more common of the two, give your experienced staff members the ability to train new employees. They can work with them over time, developing their skills.

Reverse mentor programs take things a step further. They provide new employees with the opportunity to contribute, sharing their fresh perspective on your association and industry. Many new employees also have experience with recent market trends and technology expertise that will benefit your veteran employees. Give new staff members the ability to share this knowledge and bring your experienced employees into the fold.

Method #4) Move Learning Online

Many goods and services are going online, and training is no exception. eLearning is an effective way to teach your staff valuable skills, and is great in terms of engaging younger generations such as millennials and generation y. eLearning's diverse delivery formats, including text, video, and interactive games can also help you engage workers who learn differently, making your training more effective.

By incorporating eLearning, you can cut costs and training time to make your programs more affordable and efficient. Studies by Althabasca University show that expenses can be cut by up to 40%. Deliver your eLearning materials through email or a staff-only section in your private online community, and you also ensure that staff has ongoing access to information in case they ever need a refresher.

Method #5) Take Advantage of Association Management Services

If re-training is still a struggle even with ongoing mentor programs, eLearning, and cross-training, then it may be time to look into association management services.

Association management services, such as AMS management, event planning, and design and technical services, bring in outside experts who know the field, and your software, to deal with daily maintenance and tasks for you. With outside experts handling everyday necessities, you no longer need to worry about training or employee turnover.

Professional services have the added advantage of giving your employees more time in their day. Instead of focusing on mundane, but essential, tasks like data maintenance and reporting, they'll have time to focus more on what they know best – your members and important strategic initiatives such as increasing member retention.

Ongoing Training Takeaway

By shifting your mindset and programs to embrace ongoing training you'll help ensure that employees are happier and better able to fulfill their daily tasks. Long-term, your ongoing training programs will result in more skilled employees and higher retention that cuts down on the stress of turnover and re-training.

To make ongoing training easier on your association and employees, take advantage of eLearning, mentor programs, and association management services. Each of these tools will reduce the stress on your organization, saving time and money. The result? Valuable, skilled workers that stick with you, and a more effective organization.

The most successful membership managers practice these 11 habits.

Topics: Engagement, Associations, Marketing Automation, Online Community

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