The loss of knowledge can arguably be the single most devastating aspect of employee attrition. Knowing what happened and when, why decisions were made they were along the way, the background information about relationships that were formed (and then maybe un-formed!) and the “inside scoop” gets lost the moment an employee leaves your agency. Unless, of course, you have instilled the notion that everyone acts as a historian and is expected to record the key facts about the developments in their projects and relationships with outside entities. “But that’s outrageous!” you say, “I can’t possibly write down every detail of what I do every day!” Yes, you’re right – writing a memoire would be going overboard. Instead, pick the top ten(-ish) aspects of your job (e.g. areas of responsibility, projects, etc.) and semi-annually jot down the answers to these questions:

  • What new key developments have occurred in the last six months?
  • Are there any new promises/agreements that have been established?
  • What important process changes have occurred?
  • What progress has been in each project, area, relationship?
  • Are there any other pieces of information that will be helpful if I’m not with this agency 10 years from now?

Formalize a format, if desired, and then establish a system of where these notes are to be kept and who has access to them. Finally, create a method of how you will a) keep the system going, and b) hold employees accountable.

By the way, if you don’t have an employee with the documented “role” of Historian – get one. Every agency needs a person who maintains the agency’s history. Annual highlights of the agency’s accomplishments should be recorded in a timeline of sorts, with events like: land purchased, buildings renovated/built, partnerships added, new/retired services, outside factors that impacted operations (e.g. major weather events, legal changes, national rulings, etc.). Not only will new employees, board members, and curious community members appreciate the historical document, your marketing team will thank you when they prepare the agency’s 100th anniversary celebration!

The key is to get the information – history – out of your employees’ brains and on to paper. Losing an employee to illness, death, another agency, or retirement does not need to mean the loss of that history forever. Train every employee to act as a historian and set your future agency up for success!

Big Ears

“There are Big Ears in the room” my dear friend says, as she spots her not-so-discreet children listening in on the adult conversation… Whether as eavesdropping children or interested adults, we’ve all done it – honed in on someone else’s chat when we’re not an active participant. Call it “nosy” but believe it or not, turning up your “big ears” can really help you tune in to your community’s talk of the town. Here’s how:

Assign several of your key staff to pick an off-site location where they’ll work for one hour. The library, the coffee shop, a local diner, a park, the mall, a food court, ice cream shop…any location in your community where people gather. Their new work assignment is to act as a fly on the wall, so-to-speak: tune-in their Big Ears and really listen to not only what’s being said, but also what’s not being said. The goal is to return with a list of ten bullet points of key topics, program/service ideas, or overall observations. Then, as a team, review the lists. Are there similarities or themes that can be identified? How can the “intel” be constructively used in your agency? The most important part of this exercise is to create an action plan based on what was heard. The actions can be simple tweaks to services, adjustments to existing processes, or even the creation of new programs…all of which may never have happened without taking time to listen.

With intention and structure, you can turn a seemingly innocent and simple concept into a very powerful tool.

Engage the Silent Voices

In the most recent presidential election, frustrated Americans sent their S.O.S. in the form of a vote. That single vote was the mechanism for their voice to be heard. As stewards of community resources, charged with providing services to all residents, it begs us to ask the questions: What segments of your community have “silent voices”? Does your entire community feel the services are fair and equitable, and that you’re meeting their needs? Who are you not serving, and how do you know you’re not serving them?

DW Recreation Consulting will present an educational session at both the Illinois and Ohio State Parks and Recreation Conferences in January 2018. Join us as we explore some ‘pulse strategies’ and create a plan that can help you listen to and engage with the diverse perspectives across your entire community.

The Mindfulness Movement

As mindfulness goes mainstream, more of us are consciously paying attention to who we are, what we do every day, and how we do it. We are more intentionally searching for our organic selves, which is subsequently impacting the choices we’re making in our work, play, spirituality and relationships. As your community members search for deeper, more authentic life experiences, consider ways to ensure that your park and recreation agency can be seen as a leader in supporting purposeful living.

Join us for an educational session on January 19th at the 2018 IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference in Chicago, IL, where we will dig into what mindfulness means, where it’s being practiced, and how the positive results of mindfulness can impact your organization. We’ll also ‘smell the roses’ and ‘taste the raisins’ as we examine how authenticity can shape your customer experiences into meaningful outcomes.