Training vs. Development

A friend of mine recently told me about an incident he witnessed at a local coffee shop. He was standing in line in the crowded store, when an elderly man sitting at a nearby table spilled a large cup of coffee all over his table and onto the floor, leaving a big mess. Standing just in front of my friend in the line was a young staff member. Nobody moved to help the elderly man, including the staff member in line. Just as my friend was about to act, the manager came out from the back and moved right to the scene and began cleaning it up. When the manager saw her employee standing in the line just in front of the spill, she asked, "why didn't you help?" The employee, seemingly shocked by the question replied, "Cause I'm on my break."

Have you noticed that in recent years there has been a sharp decrease in customer service in society? I certainly have! But, why is that? And what can we do about it?

I believe the decline in customer service plays to our advantage as the church, because if we reflect God's love as we are instructed in the Bible to do, then people will continue to be drawn to our church. Honor attracts people. The problem is, it seems poor customer service has crept into the church as well. Recently, my two associate pastors visited a large church while they were traveling together in another province. They both came back reporting that not one person talked to them before, during or after the service they visited. They explained how that made them feel, and it made us realize how important it is to have a group of happy, friendly volunteers on alert for visitors.  And that treating every person who attends with honor and respect could have a profound eternal impact on their lives.

We immediately began to evaluate our systems, our volunteers, and our training. What we came to realize is that training, or the lack of training, is not always the problem. We learned there is a big difference between a "trained" volunteer and a "developed" person. Let me explain.

Trained Volunteers:

  1. Embrace a micro - just my job and nothing else - perspective.
  2. Favor routine thinking.
  3. Are protectors of the status quo.
  4. Are controlling and directing.
  5. Are threatened by change.
  6. Move slowly.
  7. Identify obstacles.
  8. Avoid risks.
  9. Are system centered.
  10. Emphasize the how and the when.

Developed Volunteers:

  1. Embrace a macro - big picture - perspective.
  2. Favor innovative thinking.
  3. Posses revolutionary flair.
  4. Are inspiring and motivating.
  5. Are excited by change.
  6. Move quickly.
  7. Identify opportunities.
  8. Take risks.
  9. Are people centered.
  10. Emphasize the what and the why.

As we have meditated on this concept and began to focus on how to develop people instead of just training volunteers, the more we realized that the biggest difference between training and development is the WHY. A developed leader clearly understands the WHY and therefore sees the big picture of the organization and will do whatever is necessary to make that happen.

In the story of the coffee spill, a developed employee who understood the company's WHY is to "create an enjoyable experience" for all of it's customers, would have jumped right in and helped the man, cleaned up the mess and made him another coffee. But as a trained employee thought, "that's not my job and I'm not sure WHAT to do," so they didn't do anything. Do incidents like this one happen in your church or company? Maybe it's because we're just training our staff instead of developing people.

Question: How are your volunteers? Are they trained or developed? Please leave a comment in the "Leave a Reply" box below.