Classroom Training

Why it’s Important to Train Library Staff

Much has been written about the training and development of frontline staff as organizations decide how to spend budgets.. Several factors are used to develop training programs that align with organizational priorities but identifying these goals does not guarantee success. Onboarding and on the job training for new hires are usually well established but after these initial learning opportunities, library staff need to be involved in the conversation about what’s next.

Ensuring staff are competent and rewarding staff for strong work performance are two reasons why managers are supportive of training plans. Although training and development discussions are a vital component of performance reviews, the reality is that it is simply not enough to have a discussion once a year regarding library staff training needs. The difficulty with annual reviews is that training can be associated with discipline or an opportunity to improve work performance. This is not to suggest that training is not helpful to resolve performance concerns as it may help to address the underlying knowledge gap of an employee. On its own, training will not resolve performance issues and if this is the only solution offered by a supervisor, there is no doubt that an organization’s training and development program will be associated with a negative work environment.

Training Staff at Libraries

Training and development can also be used to incentivize and reward good performance. This is often the case in libraries where financial incentives are not available as they are in the private sector. This approach has to be carefully considered as the staff who are not offered these opportunities may allow perceptions of favouritism to come forward or staff may feel they are not being part of the team. Development programs are particularly useful when someone has been identified as having potential for promotion and further training will assist them to reach their potential.

From the staff, perspective training provides a strong connection between the work they perform in libraries and the commitment they have to their customers. If you ask for their perspective, they believe that training and development are critical because it enables them to better perform their job tasks and meet the needs of their customers.  Staff are not shy about letting their supervisor know that it is important that they are seen as “credible” in terms of performing their job. High value is placed on credibility as staff want to offer excellent service to customers and to their work colleagues.

The term “credible” is defined as being honest and believable. Library staff in all types of environments serve either external or internal customers and this is the underlying principle of librarianship and library service. Discussing with staff, observing their performance and monitoring customer satisfaction surveys are the best ways to determine training and development needs. There is no better motivational outcome than wanting to provide excellent customer service and all organizations will agree that this has to be one of their highest ranking outcomes. If staff are driven to want to be high service achievers it is incumbent on managers and supervisors to be understanding and supportive of each staff’s unique training needs. Ensuring staff are credible allows an organization to bring a shared understanding of why library organizations exist and what their most important objectives are.


Resources

The following articles provide background information about the importance of training in organizations.

The Importance of Training Employees: 11 Benefits – As technology advances and workplace methods and strategies improve, there comes a need for employers and employees to align with these changes in terms of knowledge, skills, values and abilities. One of the best ways to enhance knowledge and skills is through training.

The Importance of Training Employees for your Business – Why is your organization training its employees? Typically, it’s done for practical reasons – to keep up with industry standards, onboard new hires, demo how to use the coffee machine… the list goes on.

Training of Employees – Need and Importance of Training – Training is crucial for organizational development and success. It is helpful to both employers and employees of an organization. An employee will become more efficient and productive if they are well trained.

Training and development for librarians: Why bother? – For an organization to be effective and able to deliver its intended outcomes, its workforce needs to be skilled, competent and confident. In addition, the nature of libraries, across all sectors, means that they are subject to continual change, especially in today’s digital information environment.

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