Building Staff Capacity

Adopting an only local philosophy has many advantages in terms of increasing staff capacity and broadening perspectives. Building staff capacity includes enhancing skills, like building in-house expertise in exhibit construction or program evaluation, while broader perspectives result from a highly diverse staff, including at-risk youth or differently-abled community members. A focus on using local people, in contrast to hiring out of the area, results in the triple benefit of 1) investing in community workforce development; 2) building understanding of changing community needs, as informed and reflected by staff who care about the region; and 3) greater commitment from employees and local contractors who invest in the museum as a resource that directly benefits their home and family.

More importantly, building internal staff capacity allows your organization to retain the knowledge gained from one project to the next, as well as building your growing list of contacts and resources. As expertise and community connections grow, your museum can take on increasingly large and complex projects that have even more meaning and relevance to the community.
You'll need to provide for a certain degree of risk-taking to create a culture where people want to work hard and contribute. Making sure there is enough wiggle room for people to experiment and truly give their best to the organization will build a culture of openness and adventure, and ultimately lead to a happy and passionate staff who can keep your organization innovative.
At MCM, our long-tenured and experienced staff was essential to take on such a large, interwoven, community-wide initiative. The key in retaining staff and keeping them energized is to let them run with their ideas for building partnerships and creativity while at the same time keeping that entrepreneurial spirit aligned with an overall strategic plan. By working with the YWCA, Common Wealth Development, The Urban League and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we were able to diversify our staff with new hires when our building first opened, and this new generation of employees complements the veterans with a more comprehensive reflection of the community we serve.