This is How Employees and Volunteers Feel When There Are No Training Docs

Posted by Jonathan DeVore


I'm the new co-treasurer at our local school's PTO (Parent Teacher Organization—what used to be called the PTA).

Here's a recent exchange I had with a friend who used to be the treasurer for our local school's PTO. 

Me: "So, what does the treasurer for the PTO do?"

Previous PTO Treasurer: "There are a lot of things. For example, when you do the daddy-daughter dance..."

[after 40 minutes explaning what a treasurer does]

Me: "Oh wow! That's a lot. So, are there any procedures for how to do all of that?"

Previous PTO Treasurer: "Not"

After that, I felt like most employees starting a new jobnervous.

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What am I supposed to do?

I volunteered to be the PTO co-treasurer for the next two years.

And right now, no current member of the PTO actually knows what a co-treasurer does. Which means that no current member of the PTO actually knows what I'm supposed to do.

Fortunately, I am friends with the previous treasurers. And they live down the street from me. So we are going to have several long talks.

And I am going to be creating lot of training docs in ScreenSteps.

And on this blog, I am going to be journaling my experience so you and I can discuss lessons learned in a very candid way.

What's it really like?

I consult with businesses and nonprofits. I help them organize Salesforce onboarding curriculums, training plans, and general IT training documentation.

But I don't share the details of what those projects are like. 

I share general observations, but no concrete details.

Now, however, I have a great opportunity to share what it's like to walk into a volunteer organization that has no training docs (or procedures), build a training program, and train volunteers on how to do their job.

I won't be acting as a consultant in this role—I will be an actual volunteer who is responsible for making sure procedures are followed for thousands of manual transactions being performed by other volunteers and employees.

And I'm going to tell you what it's really like to gather information, prepare training docs, and train a team.

"A PTO is quite different than what we do"

I understand that being a treasurer at a school's PTO isn't going to be exactly the same as the job you do.

For example, the PTO won't be using Salesforce or closing $1,000,000 deals.

But in many ways, my volunteer position will be very similar to your position as an Admin or a training manager. (And in some ways, my position will be even more challenging.)

Here's the snapshot:

  • The school will be processing thousands of monetary transactions throughout the year.
  • Students, volunteers, parents, and faculty will have to follow procedures.
  • I am in charge of defining those procedures and training others on those procedures.

Sounds kind of like your job, right!

So, even though this project won't be exactly the same as what you're doing, I think you'll be able to learn from my experiences (both what to do and what not to do).

Lessons learned so far...

The first lesson I learned is a serious one, so I want you to pay attention.

Here it is: People are drowning in confusion.

I'm not saying that in jest. I'm being as sincere as I know how. Employees and volunteers are overwhelmed. 

People don't know how to do their job, and it's stressing them out.

After the previous PTO treasurer explained to me what her role was, she concluded with this sentiment—"I could barely keep my head above water."

I've heard that a hundred times. I've been there dozens of times. Employees and volunteers are being asked to do jobs with unfamiliar technology, and have no idea how to do it correctly.

It doesn't seem like the local school would be very complex—but there is a mix of new technology and old technology, there are no procedures, a lot of volunteers are running the show, and new people need to be trained every month.

All of those variables create an environment of confusion. And that confusion can make everything seem very complex.

My end goal is not to systematize the school. My end goal is to remove confusion so everyone feels comfortable doing their job.

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I'm going to apply our methodologies to my role as a treasurer, and document my experience.

I'll share information about how I build out the training knowledge base, the kind of checklists I use, the training outcomes, feedback from parents, feedback from volunteers, what worked, what didn't—everything.

Right now (July 3, 2017), I'm gathering information about the applications being used and some high-level processes. I'll be sharing this step in the journey in the next blog post.

Topics: Training