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Tip of the Week: Getting it Together

February 16, 2023, The Association

Up everyone’s learning game with an all-staff training.

We talk a lot about the importance of professional development for staff at all levels. Putting it into practice is another thing. “Showing you are serious about being committed to staff training also means you need to provide time and resources for staff to do it,” stated Cristie Kamiya, DVM, MBA, Chief of Shelter Medicine at Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV), in a recent Roundtable. “Otherwise, it’s just talk.”

One easy way to up everyone’s learning game is to incorporate training into all-staff meetings. “Clear all schedules so everyone can attend,” recommends Dr. Kamiya.

Most recently, for example, HSSV ran a CPR training for the entire staff. “In addition to being a lot of fun, there was huge engagement,” says Kamiya. “Overall it was a huge learning opportunity for everyone.”

Have you done anything like this? Tell us about it.

More To Learn

Tip of the Week: One for Good Measure
Tip of the Week: Say It In a Different Way
Tip of the Week: It Must Be Your Personality
Tip of the Week: Get the Word Out
All Aboard: Tips for a more efficient onboarding process

About The Association
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is a cohort of leaders on a mission to champion, advance, and unify the animal welfare profession.
  1. We are a private non-profit shelter with no government contracts. We do mandatory all-staff training twice per year, with our staff of more than 70. I recently shared this idea in the forums, and got a tremendous response, so I thought I would share it here.

    Sandi Mercado, Executive Director
    Citizens for Animal Protection

    STAFF TRAINING – PUZZLE ACTIVITY – break staff into equal teams.

    1. Purchase the number of puzzles (all the same) you will need to give each team one. Place puzzle pieces in Ziplock bags. Teams do NOT get to see what final product should look like.
    2. Tell teams the task is to complete their puzzles within one hour, and that this is NOT a competition between teams.
    3. During the exercise, have teams stop working. Tell groups to change tables, leaving their puzzle for the next group. Do this twice. The third time, have them return to their original table.
    4. At the end of the allotted time, do a quick walk around the room to see whose puzzle is closest to completion.
    • What was your first plan of attack when presented with the challenge? (Group by color? Complete the edges first? Assign different tasks to each person? Something else?)
    • What happened when you “inherited” someone else’s “problem”? In real life, we all are required to drop what we’re doing and “shift gears” at some point. How well did your team adapt?
    • How did you work together as a team in the beginning of the activity, including the formulation of a plan and assignment of tasks, or did one person take over while others sat back and watched?
    • What challenges did you face? How did you overcome them?
    • Did you communicate at all with other teams during this exercise?
    • If so, how did that help you to achieve your goal of completing your puzzle?
    • Why was cooperation essential for this team activity?
    • Did you nominate a leader to begin? If so, what did you take into account when deciding who it would be? Was there one person who was perceived by others as an obvious leader?
    • Did you break the puzzle down into smaller sections and assign team members a section to complete? Lesson: Putting together little puzzles within the big puzzle usually helps to complete the big picture more efficiently.
    • Did you communicate well and was everyone involved?
    • Looking back on the exercise, what things would you say you did well as a team?
    • What is one thing you can take away from the activity? How can you apply what you learned?
    • What makes a good team?

    • Communication when working toward a common goal is mandatory.
    • At some point, we will all need to work and communicate with others to complete a task.
    • Every piece counts. No one piece alone creates the big picture.
    • Force-fitting pieces is futile. You can’t make something work that isn’t the right solution.
    • Some pieces that don’t look like they go together, do.
    • Some pieces that look like they go together, don’t.
    • It helps to know the parameters and perimeters, so it is a good idea to start with the edges.
    • Looking at the puzzle from different vantage points provides a clearer perspective on the big picture.
    • You make progress one piece at a time.
    • You will be tempted at some point to quit. Don’t!
    • Puzzles are meant to be a process – just like your jobs, they require patience.
    • There really is no wrong way to approach a puzzle.
    • Puzzles or challenges should not destroy your enjoyment or self-esteem.
    • When an approach is not getting you anywhere – change it.
    • There will be times when you are presented with a problem and will get called away in the middle. Learn to trust others to handle the situation appropriately while you deal with something more urgent. Be prepared to pick up where your colleague left off when/if you return to the situation.
    • Regardless of your role at CAP, problem-solving abilities, creativity, teamwork, communication, and concentration are key to your personal success, your team’s success, and CAP’s success.

    Jigsaw puzzles are well-known for their brain-boosting abilities. They give both the “logical” left and “creative” right sides of your brain a little workout AND they help improve your memory! Most importantly, jigsaw puzzles remind us that there’s always a place to fit in.

    Everyone has their own style and strengths. Providing leadership opportunities to everyone is important. The best followers also have leadership abilities. Effective followers are some of the most important people in an organization. He who cannot be a good follower, cannot be a good leader.

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