Staff Training: Report and Recommendations


The Implementation Leadership Group recommends that the following training, which will benefit the redefinition process, be given the highest priority. This is not a ranked list.

1. Project Management. Leaders and members of task forces and other implementation groups (e.g. ISP) should be encouraged to attend this training where possible.

2. Mastering Meetings. Where appropriate, new staff members should be sent to Mastering Meetings programs as a matter of policy, and existing staff members who have not attended these programs should be encouraged to do so.

3. Measurement skills. The specific needs for training will be determined by those involved as the redefinition process continues.

4. Technical skills. The continued development of technical skills among staff is very important to the success of the redefinition process. Examples of these skills include web skills for members of the Internal Communications Facilitators and others; Microsoft Project for those involved in complex project planning and execution; FileMaker Pro for Processing Office selector support; and development of PowerPoint skills for presentations.

We also recommend that other perceived staff (see Appendix B) needs be seriously considered, despite the small sample size.


The determination of training needs and the establishment of training policies related to public services redefinition will be an important factor in the success of the redefinition project over time. With this in mind, the Implementation Leadership Group established a subgroup charged with looking into the training needs of staff as they related to redefinition and making recommendations for further action.


The process of looking at training needs began with Implementation Leadership Group discussions and preliminary brainstorming of ideas. The subgroup (Margret Lippert and Paul Vermouth) then met with Diana Haladay to talk about further courses of action. Over time, five potentially useful activities were identified:

  • benchmarking the activities of other libraries undergoing change
  • looking at training programs available from industry and from library-related institutions
  • revisiting the Final Report of the MIT Libraries' Ad Hoc Staff Development Committee (submitted on May 13, 1994)
  • further brainstorming with the Implementation Leadership Group
  • consultation with staff concerning perceived training needs

Members of the Implementation Leadership Group, including subgroup members, consulted with individuals from four institutions involved with change to collect comments and recommendations. Members of the subgroup summarized this information for the Implementation Leadership Group (see Appendix A below), looked at the most relevant sections of the Final Report, and sought information about training programs offered by business and industry. They then went back to the Implementation Leadership Group for further brainstorming of potential training activities. Starting points in this process included previous material, lists from the Final Report of the Ad Hoc Staff Development Committee, and ideas from other workshops and training programs. Among the latter were those offered by the Association of Research Libraries [], the MIT Performance Consulting and Training team [], and business and industry training programs. Business and industry training programs were investigated, and some ideas from these were incorporated into our master list.

The result was a master list of training possibilities, which the Implementation Leadership Group felt had a potential for aiding and sustaining the redefinition process. This list was then put out on ps-lib and made available on an anonymous-reply web form with a request that those responding identify their top five priorities for training. There were twenty-one responses (see Appendix B below).


Appendix A

Comments on Training / Change Process

From others consulted:

(extracts from notes on / summaries of telephone conversations or from email messages)

  • Continuous assessment is the key to any good "training" or learning program. Sometimes a program is needed; sometimes facilitated learning "on the job " is needed; sometimes individual coaching is needed. The important thing is to have the resources available (people and $) to do what is needed when it is needed.
  • Staff definitely need to feel supported in all that they have to learn. The minimum support is that they get to say what they think they need to learn-and someone to attempt a response-- informal or formal.
  • Informal assessments for groups going through change are also very important.
  • Mostly people need information, need to know that the administration knows that change is hard, that they are getting all the information that is available about the changes.
  • Training was successful, partially because the groundwork had already been laid. Some staff members had already been trained [in communication skills and conflict resolution] in the past, and the new job descriptions [for circulation staff in this instance] incorporated the specific skills for which training was provided.
  • In addition to initial training, they did a refresher session several months later.
  • Foster a non-punitive environment.
  • Break down barriers between support staff and faculty [i.e., librarians] by mixing [non-professional / professional] people in training.
  • One thing they are doing in forming groups is to look at skills rather than personalities. They do active recruitment, but also make calls for interested people who have particular skills, which uncovers skills / abilities they had no way of knowing about. They are changing the organization so that they use all the people available to them.

From imps:

  • Use benchmarking.
  • Don't use jargon.
  • Ask groups to decide from an array of options.
  • Include all staff.
  • Have affinity groups train together.
  • Consider timing.
  • Address training after charters are done.


Appendix B

Training Possibilities

(Ranked by staff vote. Based on responses from 21 people who listed their top five choices)
8 web skills - for Internal Communications Facilitators, for instance
8 measurement, assessment
7 presentation skills
6 project management
6 creativity/innovation
5 learning organizations (Peter Senge)
5 time management
5 empowerment, motivation, risk-taking
5 performance management, performance evaluations, supervision
4 facilitation
4 goal-setting for continuous improvement
4 team building, building team effectiveness, what is a team?
3 leadership/supervision, coaching skills, performance management, evaluations
3 meeting membership - being an effective meeting participant
3 managing meetings
3 training skills, designing training programs
3 communication skills - written and verbal
3 conflict negotiation
2 building agreements
2 customer management/customer service/active listening, telephone skills,
complaints, angry customer, art of listening
2 job descriptions workshop
2 leading or managing change
2 negotiation
2 public relations/marketing
2 stress management
1 coaching skills
1 living with change

Additional suggestions from staff:

Communicating through e-mail: best practices in individual and group e-mail communication

Public Speaking

Problem solving - identifying problems in the workplace before they grow to have a negative impact

Further comment from staff:

Try to remember to get support staff involved in training programs/sessions which were previously considered for professionals.


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