Library Leadership

98. Effective Staff Development on Any Budget with Tiffany Hayes

What are effective ways we can implement staff development on any budget? On this show Tiffany Hayes, Director of Library Development at the South Carolina State Library shares thoughts on this topic. All libraries have staff learning needs that can benefit from this conversation. From effective learning design to developing a plan for our own library with clear objectives and outcomes, the ideas shared here will help all of us implement effective staff development on any budget.

Transcript

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Adriane Herrick Juarez:

This is Adriane Herrick Juarez. You’re listening to Library Leadership Podcast where we talk about libraries, and leadership, and speak with guests who share their ideas, innovations, and strategic insights into the profession.

What are effective ways we can implement staff development on any budget? On this show Tiffany Hayes, Director of Library Development at the South Carolina State Library, shares thoughts on this topic. All libraries have staff learning needs that can benefit from this conversation—from effective learning design to developing a plan for our own library with clear objectives and outcomes. The ideas shared here will help all of us implement effective staff development on any budget. Enjoy the show!

Tiffany, welcome to the show.

Tiffany Hayes:

Thank you for inviting me.

Adriane Herrick Juarez:

Question #1: It’s wonderful to have you here today, and I think we’re talking about something that’s very important to libraries right now, which is effective staff development on any budget. You say that this can be done—and it doesn’t have to be done in a way that’s expensive. Can you talk about that?  01:26 

Tiffany Hayes:

The good solution for learning, for staff, might not need to be super expensive. We may have a problem like, Oh, we would like to learn better technology skills. So, we get some sort of online training, but if you’re not, for instance, giving staff time off the desk so that they can practice it, just having the tool is not necessarily going to do much for you. Or, We’re having a customer service issue. Let’s hire a big name presenter to come in and do a workshop. That’s such a long-range problem that just an afternoon, or a full day even, is only a drop in the bucket. It’s part of the solution if that’s something you’re interested in, but the more important thing is to make learning part of the culture, and be more mindful of it on a regular basis.

Adriane Herrick Juarez:

Question #2: Which you can do for less money if it’s something you’re continuously developing, is that right?  02:45 

Tiffany Hayes:

Yes, yes, definitely. Of course, now you are spending staff time and attention also, so that’s a cost—it’s not free, free, but it’s something that you would have to prioritize on a regular basis.

Adriane Herrick Juarez:

Question #3: And, you say effective learning design is an important part of this, can you share a little bit about that?  03:05 

Tiffany Hayes:

Yes, so the learning design is basically the structure of what you’re trying to convey. If we’re at a comfortable baseline level of learning, or knowledge where we’re at, and we want to move up to a higher level, the learning design is like—like maybe we’re building a stepladder to get us from here to up there.

Or, if your design is really accessible you would, maybe, build a sloped ramp with a handrail to get everybody where they need to be. So, what it has are three components, basically. First you need to know where you’re starting from, what skills do you already have to build on? And of course, where you want to get to—what the end result looks like.

Then, it’s a matter of just making small incremental steps so that you can easily get from one point to another. Ideally, you’d like for the learner to start looking for the next step, or problem-solving, or to even start building the steps themselves as they go along, to build a learning mindset.

Adriane Herrick Juarez:

Question #4: So, how do we make learning a priority in our organizations?  04:21 

Tiffany Hayes:

I define a priority as something that we pay attention to, or put resources toward. So, learning is an incremental process. You don’t learn something all at once. Like if you were learning to read, you just didn’t sit down one afternoon and go from the ABC’s to Shakespeare. It’s a process. We want to do something regularly—put staff time toward it on a consistent basis, and that can be either a big picture thing, like we may include it in our strategic planning goals, or in our hiring and evaluating staff to incorporate learning into that plan. Or, it can be more on a smaller scale like having learning part of a staff meeting on a weekly or monthly basis—having staff be accountable on a regular basis for that, to make it part of the culture.

Adriane Herrick Juarez:

Question #5: And, how do we identify which library problems are best served with a training solution?  05:21 

Tiffany Hayes:

You have to look at the problem as a whole, and I find there’s a couple of different types of problems that people want to throw training at that are, in fact, better served by other things. One of the—if it’s a process, for instance if you have a complex set of steps for something, or maybe it’s something that the staff don’t do regularly. You have this particular type of patron code in the system that only appears every few months. Instead of putting training resources toward memorizing that process that they don’t use very often, it’s better to train them just, Okay, when you run into this situation look in the manual under patron services, and follow the directions.

The other thing is, frequently, it’s a coaching, or supervision issue. For example, if you have a staff member who’s done a very good job at being on the reference desk for several years, and all of a sudden they’re not answering reference questions as effectively as before, or having problems with that—that’s not really a training problem. You would want to talk to that person, and see what’s going on. Just saying, Oh, they need a refresher, send them to training, is probably not your solution, at least not without looking for other causes of that behavior.

Adriane Herrick Juarez:

Question #6: What is an example of a typical learning situation in a library setting?  06:52 

Tiffany Hayes:

Technology is a big one, because it’s changing so quickly. You may have the situation where a library is adding a lot of technology, or resources, or updates are coming so quickly—like with ebooks, or e-audiobooks. The platform may change, and then every time you have a change you want to have a training. Pretty soon you’re training all the time, which isn’t effective. What you really need to do is work on getting the staff more comfortable with problem solving, or looking online for help, or learning the right questions to ask for themselves to work with the patron. 

The other one is customer service, or other interaction kind of things. Anytime you’re dealing with people, it changes every time and it’s an on-going skill. So, it’s very hard to have a training solution for every single problem. What you would need to do is teach the staff how to read an interaction, respond to what they’re seeing—that sort of thing. So, it’s very ongoing.

Adriane Herrick Juarez:

Question #7: …and unique for each individual organization—how can we development a learning plan for our own library with clear objectives and outcomes?  08:09 

Tiffany Hayes:

You want to be deliberate and intentional in what you want to include. A lot of people try to say, Well, we’re going to learn all the things. We want to cover everything. It goes back to maybe, starting with your library strategic planning, or some needs you’ve identified that are relevant, and thinking about the steps to get there. The big question I like to ask is not about what you want to teach the staff, but what it would look like if it were successful. 

If you have a successful learning outcome what behaviors are you seeing, what changes are you making? Instead of saying, We want to make storytimes more engaging, you would have a goal that your storytime programmers, maybe, add two new elements to their repertoire of skills in this performance year.

Adriane Herrick Juarez:

Question #8: That makes sense. Is there anything else you would like to share?  09:15 

Tiffany Hayes:

One thing I think that people don’t account for enough is that learning is a very vulnerable situation, because it inherently involves failure and admitting that we don’t know things. So, keep that in mind when we’re going about teaching—either staff, or patrons. A lot of people don’t have a great experience with formal learning, like school, or educational systems. So, they may be in a very reactive, or stressed out frame of mind. 

You say, Oh, we’re going to learn something new, and that’s inherently a little scary to most people. And, if we’re in that reactive frame of mind, that’s the opposite of a learning mindset. It’s very hard to learn when you’re trying to move away from a problem. You want to engage their curiosity to get them into a comfortable mindset.

Adriane Herrick Juarez:

Question #9: Do you have any favorite management, or leadership books, or resources, and why?  10:11 

Tiffany Hayes:

From learning and learning design, specifically, I like the book, Design for How People Learn, by Julie Dirkson. It’s a great overview of how people retain information. In terms of general leadership, I really like Brené Brown. She breaks down, especially, her parts about the elements of trust, and how we build trust in organizations. She breaks that down really nicely.

Adriane Herrick Juarez:

Question #10: In closing, what do libraries mean to you, personally?  10:39 

Tiffany Hayes:

I think libraries are such an important place for people to learn, and to have access to information, something that most people don’t get anywhere else. Even if they haven’t had formal education, they can come into the library. No question is too simple, or too inconsequential for us to answer.

Adriane Herrick Juarez:

Thank you so much for being with me on the show today to talk about staff development on any budget. I know this is something we’re all thinking about. We don’t have limitless resources when it comes to staff training, and just the ideas you’ve shared today give us a lot to think about in terms of how we can develop an incremental training plan for our teams. So, I really appreciate you being here.

Tiffany Hayes:

Thank you.

You’ve been listening to Library Leadership Podcast. This is Adriane Herrick Juarez. For more episodes tune into LibraryLeadershipPodcast.com, where you can now subscribe to have monthly updates delivered right into your email inbox. Our producer is Nathan Sinclair Vineyard. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.

We would like to thank the Park City Library for their dedicated support of this show. The opinions expressed on this show are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of Library Leadership Podcast, or our sponsors.

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