In the June Core e-Forum, participants were asked to discuss the relationship between job training and job satisfaction. The discussion also addressed ways to organize a successful training program and using instructional design methods to improve technical services training.
The first day’s discussion revolved around more general questions about the nature of on the job training and participants’ own roles in on the job training. The purpose of the second day was to address more specific topics of training structure and organization, and to examine the link between successful training and job satisfaction.
It was obvious from the lively discussion on Day 1 that we all are almost always engaged in on the job training and feel strongly about its nature and organization. Themes that consistently emerged were cross-training, documentation, continuity, understanding the reasons for changes, but also preserving institutional memory. The following questions were asked and answered many times during the two-day period:
Who do we train: new hires, students, co-workers for a new project or a task, co-workers in other departments for cross-training purposes, employees we supervise.
Why do we train: retirements, new hires, system migrations, challenging projects, organizational restructuring.
Questions we are asking when engaging in training: how much time to invest, how to stay current with our field, how to get buy-in and support from staff or administration.
On the job training or “new learning” (as one participant called it to emphasize the thinking aspect of it) was defined as any training done in a hands-on, getting-real-results way as opposed to sitting down and listening or watching someone explain. “It is doing rather than seeing. It is aimed at learning how to do this particular task now (or soon).” On the job training is anything that teaches employees how to better perform their job.
Many agree that successful training is impossible without explaining the underlying reasons behind procedures, and looking at the big picture, not just specific step by step instructions. Successful training should rely on participants’ buy-in, peer training and testing, trainees feeling ownership of the projects they are trained for. Successful training needs to address departmental and organizational needs, but also contribute to individual growth.
Creating documentation and the importance of good documentation came up multiple times on the first day, as well as different approaches to creating good documentation and the need for involving training participants in creating and testing procedures and instructions.
Training success largely depends on management style, organizational culture, and institutional support. Having strong leaders that are interested in learning themselves and encourage their staff to learn is critical. As participants put it: “Some of the best tools to give ourselves and our staff is the understanding of priorities, the ability to explore and experiment, and the permission to fail.” “Developing a culture that values trial & error exploration into effective processes and a welcoming of the learning through failure that will follow is critical for changing your team’s
Participants pointed to the importance of evaluating training needs and matching them to appropriate training opportunities, with hands-on practice and discussion being an example of effective training. Learning that blends theory and practice – as one person put it, “a combination of both the how and the why of your job” – leads to increased confidence and better performance, which is good for both job satisfaction and for the organization.
Participants defined job satisfaction as “knowing what is required of you, how to do it to the best of your ability [with some degree of autonomy], and enjoying your work to the point that you want to come in each day.” Feeling heard, respected, and appreciated is part of job satisfaction as well.
There were several responses to questions about how training can improve job satisfaction. One participant put it succinctly: “Training improves my job satisfaction when it helps me feel more competent and confident in my job performance, or opens up new opportunities and ideas.” Another participant finds satisfaction in training sessions where, as a participant, she has a chance to demonstrate knowledge and mastery by training others in the course.
This discussion made it clear that both training success and job satisfaction depend on management style, organizational culture, and institutional support. Training success and job satisfaction both involve a combination of the practical, daily work and the overall organizational mission. Finally, training success and job satisfaction both come from feeling ownership of one’s work as well as having meaning and purpose.
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– Marlee Givens and Sofia Slutskaya, e-Forum moderators
Core e-Forums are two-day, moderated, electronic discussion forums that provide an opportunity for librarians and library professionals to discuss matters of interest on an email discussion list. These discussions are free of charge and available to anyone who wishes to subscribe to the email list.