Often, in not-for-profit organizations, annual performance reviews and comprehensive strategic planning sessions are skipped or postponed because of lack of time. The needs of the people we serve are great and we have little time and even less funding to spare. This short-term thinking is a risk to the performance of our organizations.
By taking the time to engage everyone (clients, staff, volunteers, funders, community leaders and other people of influence) in strategic planning we can learn what we don't know and need to find out. We can learn about resource gaps, and go about planning how to fill them. We can learn about service and how it can be improved to reach more people better. We can learn about upcoming trends and pressures on funding, and ask for advice and generate ideas about alternatives. Continuous learning is one way agencies protect their viability and ensure longer-term effectiveness.
More organizational learning is possible through a well-managed performance review process. A performance review should not be a 'gotcha' exercise in pointing out someone's weaknesses. Far from it. A well managed performance review process allows employers and employers to share information, plan for development and celebrate achievements. A positive performance process supports organizational learning, and allows for spending on training and development in a systematic and ultimately cost-effective way. Sending people on ad hoc courses in response to errors or deficiencies is much less effective than planning development from both an individual and agency perspective and celebrating positive growth.