Building a Cadre, Part 2: Recruitment

Once you've finished the assessment process addressed in our previous article, it's time to start forming the cadre beginning with its most important component: people.

Once you've finished the assessment process addressed in our previous article, it's time to start forming the cadre beginning with its most important component: people. This will require you to determine what qualifications you're looking for in potential cadres, recruiting and evaluating candidates, and determining how to structure the resulting organization. Let's dive right in!

This series is based off of a process for building a cadre developed by the CDC, which you can find here:

Training Cadre | Professional Development & Training | Healthy Schools | CDC
This page provides a step-by-step process of how to build a training cadre. If you are looking to maximize your professional development (PD) knowledge, skills, and resources and further your organization’s reach, consider building a training cadre.


The foundation of every cadre is the people who make it up (somewhat confusingly also referred to individually as cadres). As a result, finding, evaluating, and selecting the people to make up your cadre is critical. This process can be broken down into roughly four steps:

  1. Determine what information you need to gather from each candidate, and how you will evaluate that information to decide if they're a good choice to join the cadre
  2. Find potential applicants, and convince them to apply to join the cadre
  3. Review the applicants (potentially as a group if the cadre has more than one initial member)
  4. Select the people to bring on as cadres

This seems pretty formal, but keep in mind that it's only an outline, and you should adapt it for your own circumstances. For instance, the potential applicants don't need to be provided with a form to fill out, you can just chat with them (they might not even know you're deciding whether or not to recruit them into the cadre until you invite them to join). The process can be as formal or informal as is useful to you.

The part that does matter is having a clear expectation for every potential member about what they're committing to. For instance, it's probably a good idea to include the following as part of a basic application/interview:

  • Specific need(s) and basic rationale for forming this cadre
  • Basic contact information for applicants
  • Expected level of commitment for cadre members
  • Estimated time frame/duration of involvement
  • Required competencies of cadre members
  • Preferred previous experience - knowledge related to work the cadre is doing, history of working with the intended audience, past experience training others, and so on

Note that these details aren't just for you! Potential candidates should understand what you're looking for so they can understand whether they would be a good fit and want to be involved. Carefully evaluating and recruiting someone is a lot of work, and if recruitment isn't a two-way process that work may all go to waste once they start as a cadre and realize it isn't what they expected. An example of some responsibilities are included in the checklist below.

Once you've identified candidates and gathered some information about them, you should evaluate the candidates and determine who will effectively contribute to the cadre's mission. If the cadre already has multiple members, you may want to may want to form a small team to evaluate the applicants instead of doing it alone.

A cadre requires a variety of roles to succeed - leaders, organizers, liaisons with other organizations, trainers, and more depending on your situation. As much as possible, cadre members should be selected with an understanding of where they fit in the mission and what role(s) they will be contributing to.

The people who make up your cadre will be the single largest factor in the cadre's success or failure. A cohesive cadre made up of dedicated members can overcome a vague and difficult plan, but a cadre which can't work together, composed of uninterested individuals, can make the best-conceived plan fail. The process of identifying, recruiting, and selecting cadre members is lengthy and difficult, but wildly important.

Structuring the Cadre

The organization and structure of your cadre will vary widely depending on the situation, your goals, who the cadre is made up of, and the size of the cadre itself. There are a few principles to keep in mind:

Logical Divisions

Think about how you want to divide the cadre. If it's sufficiently small, you may not need to, but it won't hurt to have in the back of your mind the way you'd like to divide sub-groups in the future. Sub-groups can be divided by geography, topic, type of work,

Assignment of Responsibility

Make sure that responsibilities are clear to avoid the diffusion of responsibility, where everyone assumes that someone else is handling the task. Tasks should be explicitly assigned to individuals. This doesn't mean that cadre leadership needs to individually assign work to every cadre member - they can assign it to (for example) committees which then divide it up amongst the committee members. What matters is that in every step, there is a single person who knows they are responsible for making sure it's done.

In the case of the committee structure, let's say that the cadre is developing a new course. The training leader for the cadre assigns the task to the training committee, which has a committee secretary who is now the person responsible. The committee meets and divides up the work, assigning each individual task the committee members and noting who has agreed to do what. Later, the cadre leadership can ask the committee secretary how the work is going and get a response without having to individually ask every member.

Span of Control

If you are using a hierarchical structure (which includes, for example, committees who send representatives to a main committee), any given individual can only oversee between three and seven cadres, with five being a good middle ground. For example, if your training cadre has ten trainers, a single training coordinator will likely not be able to effectively organize them all, and it's worth considering breaking the trainers down into sub-groups (by region, topic, or otherwise).

Goal Clarity and Organization Simplicity

Most importantly, every cadre member should be able to explain the purpose and goals of the cadre and how they fit into it. Keeping organizations simple and clear will help cadre members understand what they can do to contribute, and how they can step up and get things done to move the cadre toward its goals. Any organizational structure you adopt should be as simple and minimal as possible while still allowing the organization to operation efficiently - a delicate balance that can be difficult to find.

The Kickoff Meeting

This is your first chance to get the cadre together and establish the cohesion and culture that can determine whether or not the cadre succeeds. The way you host the meeting will be unique to your situation, but the goals should include:

  • Establish group norms and expectations for participation in meetings, addressing questions or concerns about the cadre, how you will work, and how frequently you will meet.
  • Revisit the vision, mission, goals, and objectives you developed in Part 1 and ensure that every cadre member understands and supports the key points. This should be done as collaboratively as possible to make sure ideas are heard and concerns are understood.
  • Decide on the roles of each cadre member.
  • Decide how you will work and what collaboration tools will be used.
  • Discuss expectations around security and how publicly visible your cadre is intended to be.


This is the end of step two! By this point, you've conducted careful assessment and planning for establishing a cadre, including understanding the vision, mission, goals, and objectives of your new group, and recruited the first few members. This is the last preparatory step in the process - the next step is to go out in the world and take action.