Libraries and Training: Where do we stand?

A recent article on Mashable cites the 2011 Training Industry Report that compared training data from 2010 to training data from 2011 and said, “The amount spent on training jumped about 13% from 2010, including increases in overall training budgets and payroll, and spending on outside products and services.”

The article goes on to say:

It’s anticipated that training will continue to be a major focus for organizations in the upcoming year, which makes sense: As our economy continues to move in a positive direction, consumers will demand better service. This translates to a need for customer service, management and leadership training, which are poised to see increases in 2012.

Is this true for your organization? There was a time when it seemed that libraries were on the cutting edge of training compared to private industries. We had 23 Things before most private industries even allowed access to Facebook and Twitter. But with all the budget cuts to libraries, is training one of the things being cut? And if training is being cut, what is the impact long-term to libraries?

Make sure to read the rest of the article. The three social learning trends to watch in 2012 is an interesting read. Many of us are already there on a personal level as far as social learning, but are our libraries there on an organizational level? If not, what do we need to do to get them there? If so, what do we need to do to move forward?

When Training Counts

Weeks ago if you asked my son what he wanted to be when he grows up and he would have proudly exclaimed, “A pirate!” This week he has received a lesson in what it really means to be a pirate thanks to the news and some father/son discussions.

I watched the news tonight and felt joy that Captain Richard Phillips has been rescued, but the story took an interesting turn for me personally when anchor Brian Williams went on to say that the successful rescue mission was due to the training that the Navy SEALS received.

We all know that it is not an easy task to even become a Navy SEAL. Only one out of four recruits completes the initial training (which takes over 3 years). So what kind of ongoing training do these elite men receive that enables them to make such rescues?

According to Williams’ report tonight SEALS are typically on a cycle of 6-months deployment followed by 18-months training. Rinse. Repeat.

Ironically when you look at the Navy SEALS Web site their slogan is “Small Investment, Big Real-World Dividends.”

What kind of investment do we make with our training? And what kind of dividends do we see?

Learning from Corporate America: Zappos will pay you to quit

I once worked in a call center where we went through a week of training. On the last day of training we were put on the phones to take customer calls. I knew after about day 2 of training that this was not for me, but I needed a job. I needed to pay my rent that month. After a few weeks when I finally quit, the supervisor begged me to stay. About to be the busiest time of year in retail, they were desperate for bodies–anybody to take customer orders.

Looking back I wonder why a company would want someone to sell their product who does not want to be there. How enthusiastic is that person going to be? How much is that employee going to go out of his way to make the business shine?

Tonight I discovered a company that is at the polar opposite. Zappos will pay you to leave if you don’t want to be there. Talk about engaged employees and customer service.

[Zappos] is a company that’s bursting with personality, to the point where a huge number of its 1,600 employees are power users of Twitter so that their friends, colleagues, and customers know what they’re up to at any moment in time. But here’s what’s really interesting. It’s a hard job, answering phones and talking to customers for hours at a time. So when Zappos hires new employees, it provides a four-week training period that immerses them in the company’s strategy, culture, and obsession with customers. People get paid their full salary during this period.

After a week or so in this immersive experience, though, it’s time for what Zappos calls “The Offer.” The fast-growing company, which works hard to recruit people to join, says to its newest employees: “If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you’ve worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus.” Zappos actually bribes its new employees to quit!

Read the full Harvard Business Review post by Bill Taylor

The comments for this post are fascinating too. Ever wonder why a library should have a Twitter account? Read on…

The Twitter effect makes me feel like I am buying from friends, not a big company. I follow Zappos folks from both the Vegas and Kentucky facilities and with each Tweet, not only am I entertained, but I also become a more loyal customer and most importantly, an advocate.

– Posted by Judy C
May 19, 2008 4:47 PM

Granted libraries are already running on tight budgets so we can’t pay people to leave, but what can we learn from Zappos?

Learning from Corporate America: Starbucks Closes Nationwide for Training

On February 26, 2008 if you tried to get your usual Grande Carmel Machiato from Starbucks between 5:30 and 9pm you were out of luck. In a historic move Starbucks closed nearly 7,100 stores for 3 1/2 hours to conduct mandatory training for more than 135,000 employees.

From the Starbucks Web site, “That amounts to almost a half a million hours of training in one night.

My first thought on hearing this announcement was publicity stunt. Why do you need to close for training? Why can’t you do it before or after closing or off site? I learned though that this was more than training in how to make a cup of coffee. According to the Starbucks Web site this was “a nationwide education event, designed to energize [employees] and transform the customer experience.”

It seems that most of the employees agreed. Some comments from employees on the Starbucks Gossip Blog:

I’ve just returned home from my stores espresso excellence training and I feel that as a whole we are re-energized and more passionate mostly about customer care. I really liked the team commitments at the end for us to hold one another accountable and this as much better then other store meetings because we got to move around the store as groups and we had fun! Posted by: Aaron | Feb 26, 2008 6:40:20 PM

Soo, I just got back from my meeting. It was amazing. I feel inspired in every way. I hope other baristas feel the same. Posted by: Neevan | Feb 26, 2008 6:54:53 PM

I just got home from the training session and I have to say it was great. It put us all on the same page and let all of us know that the standards have been raised and we WILL be held accountable for it. Not everyone remembers it. This meeting wasn’t to teach us how to make coffee and thats what a lot of people are missing. This was about making the BEST cup we can EVERYTIME, no exceptions. It was about how to give you customers what you pay for and more. Not to mention it laid down some new guidelines to make sure that if the customer does not get what THEY think is the perfect cup of coffee WE WILL MAKE IT UNTIL YOU ARE SATISFIED. We learned the vision of Howard and what he expects of us as a whole company so that not just some stores but ALL of them are doing the best everytime. I personally thought it was informative and helpful, especially to the new hires in our store who don’t know yet what they need to do and reminded all of us how to provide our customers with a place they want to be. To be perfectly honest with you I think that there are a lot of baristas out there (and if you have read some of their posts you know what I’m talking about) that we are not only in the coffee business but also the PEOPLE business. Posted by: | Feb 26, 2008 7:17:42 PM

Hi Everyone!!! Training tonight was great, what I felt would be just a refresher on the new flavor profile and proper steaming of milk, foam ratio, etc., ended up being more of a conversation on what we can do to accommodate and create a better experience for our customers. Posted by: buck star | Feb 26, 2008 9:36:18 PM

I freakin loved the meeting tonight. It’s like Starbucks Experience. it really re energized my passion for my job and my pride in my drinks, my service and the company as a while. I can’t wait to work on the floor again!! Posted by: Staxman | Feb 26, 2008 10:36:09 PM

I admire the courage of the company’s leadership to close every store, not just their doors, but their cash register as well, and then pay all their employees to attend a training session in order to improve the customer experience. Can you think of any other company that would spend that kind of money and time to improve their product? Can you imagine an airline stopping all flights for a day and requiring their employees to spend the time focusing on the passenger experience? Good for you Starbucks!! Posted by: | Feb 26, 2008 8:50:49 PM

So I have to ask, when was the last time you received comments like that on a training evaluation? What would it take for libraries to have all staff committed to the customer experience? What can we learn from Starbucks?

More Learning from Corporate America: Outback

On New Year’s Eve my husband and I decided to have a nice dinner. Since babysitters charge a minimum of $10/hour (I don’t even want to know how much it would be on New Year’s Eve) we rarely use one. Instead we put the kids to bed and decided to order take-out from the Outback. From start to finish I was amazed by how customer focused they have become.

I went online to look at the menu, then found that you can now place your order online. No looking up the phone number. No waiting for someone to answer. No trying to get the bartender to hear you over the noise. No mistakes on the order (hopefully). I submitted my order, gave a description of my car, and that was it.

10 minutes later I pulled up to a curbside take-away parking spot and someone brought me my order. I didn’t even have to get out of the car and brave the frigid 40 degree weather (see what you’re missing Helene). On the drive home I kept thinking about the library. If we really want to focus on what the customer wants then why don’t we offer a drive up service?

I can’t tell you how many times I pass by the library while I’ve got my kids in the car and wish that I could call them up and ask someone to bring my holds out to the car. I could be in and out in no time. Instead I have to hope I have the stroller. Heave the 40 lb contraption out of the back of my car. Get the baby out of her car seat while the preschooler is screaming, “Nooo ME first!” Then grab the preschooler, diaper bag, purse, library card, and don’t forget the keys. I end up hauling in about 100lbs of kids and stuff just to get a few books. While this keeps my chiropractor in business it doesn’t make me love going to the library (speaking as a customer not an employee).

I know other libraries out there have drive-thru service and others like Topeka & Shawnee County offer holds by mail but these services need to become the norm rather than the exception at libraries. If I need to go to a pharmacy you can bet it will be one that has a drive-thru. On New Year’s Eve we had over a dozen restaurants nearby that we could have gotten take-out from. The Outback was the furthest away, but it was the one we chose because of its conveinence.