More often than not, while in conversations with fellow managers of front-line staff, I have found the conversations include moments of venting about staff. Ultimately it comes down to frustrations we managers have about hiring the right staff and training them to do the right job.The great thing about it is that as manager, we have the power to control and limit our frustrations based on who we hire and how we manage.

On the surface it sounds simple enough to do. However it takes time, plenty of prep, patience, and guts to do this. For some managers it is a simple brush-up on practices that have been in play for years and tweaking training of current staff. For others, it may be a larger shift from hiring individuals with content knowledge to those who have a skill set and passion for engaging visitors. Regardless, there is help to get you on your move toward having inspired staff that connect visitors to your site.

Just prior to the AASLH Annual Meeting there will be two hands-on workshops designed for you:

*Please note these are Pre-Meeting Workshops that require additional fees beyond general Meeting Registration.

Wednesday, October 3, 8:30am-12:30pm $45
Connecting to Visitors with Inspired Staff: Hiring Front-Line Staff & Volunteers

For many visitors of historic sites the interpreter (or other front-line staff) is the main conduit to the site’s history and its relevance. Through dialogue, tone, phrasing and story these interpreters piece together the past and connect it to the visitors’ understandings about the present. Ideally visitors leave our sites with new found context of their world. If connection is one of the goals of the visitors’ experience, why hire staff who are just looking for a job?
By crafting the right job description and interview questions, managers can weed through candidate pools to find inspired staff. This workshop will help participants learn how to enhance their recruitment and hiring processes to find staff who carry the spark and amazement seen in our visitors’ eyes with them as they transition into their staff role.

Tanya Brock, Visitor Services Manager, Minnetrista
Linnea Grimm, Hunter J. Smith Director of Education and Visitor Programs, Monticello
Callie Hawkins, Curator of Education, President Lincoln’s Cottage

Wednesday, October 3, 1:30-5pm $45
(This is an updated date/ time from the original program guide.)

Workshop: Connecting to Visitors with Inspired Staff: Training Front-Line Staff and Volunteers

As history professionals, we believe that our sites are special places. Helping visitors find a connection to these places is at the core of what we do—and is essential for our long-term sustainability. Every year, visitor research and learning theory provide us with more information about what the public wants from their visits to museums and historic sites. Yet we often fail to translate this data into meaningful training that enables our frontline staff to create excellent experiences for our guests. Instead, guided tours and interpretive programs often take the form of mini lectures on the topics that interest the front-line interpretive staff or docents. “Connecting Visitors with Inspired Staff: Training Front-line Staff and Volunteers” will give participants an opportunity to hone their training skills. The workshop will provide concrete ways to teach front-line staff and volunteers to improve their active listening skills, their storytelling abilities, their adaptability, etc. Through presentations and hands-on activities, the session will explore how to train paid and unpaid interpretive staff to lead high-quality, pedagogically sound tours and programs that put the needs and interests of the visitors first. Participants will consider how to ensure that programs encourage critical thinking, social interaction, and. . .fun.

Rebecca Martin, Volunteer and Tour Coordinator, National Archives and Records Administration
Katrina Nelson Thomas, Senior Director, Public Programs, Indiana Historical Society
Rebecca Furer, Director of Education & Interpretation, Connecticut Historical Society