An amazing team starts with recruiting the best candidates. When advertising for and selecting staff, be that paid or volunteer, provide a job description that clearly defines duties, roles and responsibilities, any required status or certifications and other logistical information such as work hours, environment and technical or physical abilities. When selecting candidates, you’ll want to consider education, including any required degrees or certifications, job experience, knowledge and specialized skills. Also consider personality and fit within the program and organizational culture. Are the potential staff members able to engage a wide variety of different participants? Are they able to manage individuals and groups? How do they engage with participants, staff and stakeholders? Do they foster and model positive, open and respectful relationships?

Tips for Communicating with Staff


  • Hold Regular Staff Meetings
  • Set the Tone:  Clearly articulate  program goals, vision, mission and staff expectations in an open and positive manner.
  • Offer Formal Written Communication: Venues such as an employee handbooks, position agreements or contracts are also beneficial.
  • Fostering Open and Positive Communication: A culture where staff feel as though they can communicate to leadership and one another, makes for a stronger program.
Retention & Support

In order for any staff to excel, they must feel they have the adequate supports to carry out their job. Consider what staff will need and ensure they are receiving the tools necessary. This will vary by program but include things like having adequate materials, supplies, lessons and space. An appropriate staff-to-participant ratio safeguards against staff being spread too thin and against safety issues.

Professional Growth
  1. Set Goals: Determine an amount of time, such as short or long term. SMART goals are an excellent tool for goal setting.
  2. Monitoring Progress: Once goals are set, it is important to treat them as living, breathing documents by regularly checking-in on progress. Observations, both informal and formal, and regularly scheduled meetings are tools to help stay on track.
  3. Evaluations: Staff evaluations formally assess where employees have made progress. Evaluations are typically annual but can be set in closer increments if appropriate. Given the less frequent, but more serious nature of evaluations, it is important to use the former steps of goal setting and monitoring progress.
  4. Professional Development goes hand-in-hand with evaluation, as it is a means for employees to work towards goals and strengthen them professionally. Employees that are educated and trained are more effective in creating a strong program and more likely to feel supported. Initial staff orientations should be provided. Generalized trainings that all staff receive, as well as individualized professional development opportunities, are appropriate.