After investing the time and resources to find and hire talented staff, you must continue to work in order to keep them. Day-to-day operations can be extremely busy and in most cases the only time that is dedicated to discussing an employee's performance or professional development is during annual performance reviews. Once a year is not enough. Employee relationships have to be fostered with a goal of working towards their personal and professional goals.
A Staff Development Day is a nice way to learn more about what employees' specific goals are as well as helping them to strategize on how to reach those goals.
Set a date. Get the availability of all staff that should attend. Choose a day that is free for everyone so that everyone can attend and commit to attending for the entire day. Depending on the number of attendees, some people may have to move meetings or other obligations to accomodate the schedule of the group.
Find a location. Some companies or organizations prefer to have their Staff Development Day offsite so they can connect without the distractions of the office. Although ideal, sometimes doing so requires renting a space, which may not be feasible.
Ask a client or external partner if you can utilize meeting space in their office. You can also encourage a staff member with ample space to host it in his home.
Determine the focus of the day as a group and weigh professional development day ideas. The coordinator for the day should spend some time gathering feedback from each attendee about what their expectations are for the day. An easy yet effective way to do this is sending out an electronic survey through Zoomerang or Survey Monkey (See Resources) to gather anonymous, honest responses. Once the responses are received, identify two to three major trends apparent from the data (i.e. concerns around prioritizing or lack of investment in staff development).
Determine how the day will be managed and the types of professional development activities to incorporate. There should be a mix of activities and discussions designed to accomplish specific tasks (i.e. goal-setting) as well as some leisure. This could be accomplished by having a longer lunch, ending a little early to have cocktails at the end of the day or even just allowing time for staff to talk to each other about things not related to work.
Make assignments. Develop a committee to manage the various components of the day (i.e. securing the space, ordering food, gathering and transporting supplies). Assign different staff members to each agenda item for the day. It is his or her responsibility to prepare for the activity or discussion as well as communicating to the other staff about any preparations that should be done before the event.
Staff Development Days should contain some entertaining or fun elements but be careful not to lose focus that it is a day to accomplish high-level tasks related to goal-setting and professional development.