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Training Director Discovers eLearning As the Solution to Their Most Difficult Challenges (Interview)

Tammy Slayton, SPHR is the Human Resources and Education and Training Director for The Arc of Steuben. She has been with the agency 15 years and has been working in the HR field for 25+ years. She is a long time member of the local SHRM Chapter – HRATT (Human Resources Association of the Twin Tiers) and was Legislative Chairperson for over 5 years. She is also the Vice President of a statewide HR group known as HR-PRO. She is a member and former long-time chairperson for the Recruitment and Retention Committee for the Collaborative of the Finger Lakes.

She is the Chairperson for Steuben County’s Center for Dispute Settlement Advisory Council and is also a Certified Mediator. Tammy has spent many hours volunteering for: The American Cancer Society, United Way, Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army. She is currently attending Empire State College full-time to obtain her degree in Human Resource Management. She can be contacted at tammyslayton@gmail.com.

Q. In your years of work as a training professional, what problems or challenges have you run into?

The biggest challenge for us has been figuring out how to measure the effectiveness of the training. It is difficult to know whether the participants really understand and are using what they have learned in training on the job. Another challenge is finding a method to offer trainings outside of the traditional classroom. We have over 20 locations throughout Steuben County, so a lot of time and mileage is spent on travel to our central location to receive trainings. The third challenge is to discover a way to get leadership and management to invest the dollars needed into training. How do you convince them that training should be the last thing cut, not the first thing cut when there are budget woes?

Q. Have you found any solutions to alleviate the problems you mentioned?

In order to alleviate the first challenge of measuring the effectiveness of training, we have administered assessments 6 months after the training to see how much of the information they have retained. This approach, however, doesn’t really measure the applied information used on the job. We are now looking at alternatives to solve the second challenge. Some of the approaches we are looking at include: testing out (i.e. the annual Hazcom training), videotaping the training and having the various sites watch the videotaped training at their site when convenient (i.e. sexual harassment), and providing computer-based training options. However, I have found no solutions to solve the last problem of convincing leadership and management to put more money into training.

Q. What can technology do to help facilitate training?

I think technology is the key.

  • Web-based training.
  • Videotaping our trainings and placing them on our intranet.
  • Video-conferencing.
  • Virtual training.

Q. Are there additional things that HR and T&D professionals should keep in mind when creating their own training initiatives?

Another key component of training is to take into consideration the different training modalities that are available to satisfy the different generational learning styles (i.e. Baby Boomers vs. Gen. X’ers).

Q. How do “Baby Boomers” and “Generation X’ers” differ in learning styles?

Very simply – Baby Boomers prefer to be lectured to and given paper handouts, while Generation X’er’s want video conferencing, computer-based (PowerPoint, videos, virtual) and interactive training.

Q. Could e-learning be a solution to any of the problems you mentioned?

Absolutely. We are thinking that although offering training outside of the traditional classroom may potentially cost a great deal of money on the onset, it will be a great return on investment in the long run because people won’t have to travel to the main site for training. In addition, we won’t have to get coverage for those people while they are in training. Going back to they key component I mentioned, we will be able to offer training to associates in the way that best suits their learning style.

Q. What resources help you to do your job? SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) and SHRM’s magazine are resources that I rely on a lot. I am also relying more and more on LinkedIn.

However, the most valuable resources that I have found are the networks that I have developed and belong to throughout the state (i.e. my local SHRM Chapter – HRATT, Collaborative of the Finger Lakes – a consortium of Arcs from about 9 counties, HR-PRO – a NYS network of HR Directors from organizations that provide services to people with developmental disabilities).

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