Summary – 2nd Oct 2012- Library Management Chat
1) Have you any tips for getting into a library management position?
- Be “that person” who is always happy to help out, suggest new ideas, makes people see you in a new light
- Ask your employer if you can enrole in a “moving into management” course
- Show leadership whilst not in a “managerial” role – you don’t have to have a managerial role to gain experience
- Blog post on managing in libraries: http://infoism.co.uk/blog/2012/01/managing-in-public-libraries/
- It can be tricky in some roles to gain this experience, where this is the case offer to volunteer in other roles/committees
- Differentiate between leadership and management – you can gain skills in either, and they are transferrable between the two!
- You can volunteer outside the library world to gain experience! i.e. girl guides!
- Think about how you define management : http://bit.ly/SwzZoN – don’t just think of management as the person at the top, there are many steps to get there!
2) How do you get supervisory experience without ever having it before? Is it a catch 22 situation?
- Ask managers for more responsibility – flag it up in your annual review/appraisal
- Be in the right position at the right time!
- Try a job swap with a colleague
- Try writing training materials and then sharing them with your users
- Engage with CILIP’s special interest groups, or other professional organisations
- Good recruitment will spot the potential of a good manager – likewise, poor recruitment will prevent it from showing and being spotted
- Remember that being in a management position is not the be all and end all of a career – there are many other ways to a fulfilling career.
- Management courses from the CMI: http://bit.ly/OGuBv3
3) What should be the key skills of a library manager?
- Honest and trustworthly
- Being able to delegate confidently
- Give credit where it is due
- Being able to balance organisation, staff and a user’s needs
- Spot the big picture, and the small details
- Effective communication
- Risk tolerance
- Embracing change successfully
- People management
- Project management
- Awareness of professional values and ethics
4) How do you adapt from being “one of the team” to “the boss”?
- Listen to advise from others, you won’t have been the first to make the transition
- Do not try to be the world’s friend – it isn’t possible. Instead be fair and take a step back
- Accept that you will have to change how you work with people, in order for both of you to do your role
- Respect and be fair to your staff – but you do not have to become an ice queen!
- Moving organisation makes adapting easier, as it also stops you from being viewed in your previous role and guise
- There was a difference of opinion between if a manager should muck in and help out, or sit back and guide the library’s strategy
5) Do you think managers are out of touch with issues facing the frontline staff?
- It was decided by pretty much all involved, that this will vary depending on many factors; sector, organisation and most importantly, the individual
- It was pointed out that we should think both ways – do you know about all the problems and issues your manager has to deal with? Communication both ways can help to address any gaps that are present
- Perhaps have your manager work a “floor day” to remind them of some of the problems that you face – put any problems in a constructive way that will help them to understand
6) How important is it that managers have experience of lower level jobs/delivering services in the places in which they manage?
- Perhaps it doesn’t matter as long as they are happy to listen to the views of lower level staff?
- It can give credibility – you have been “at the coalface” dealing with tricky customers and problems
- It is important for them to understand work pressures and staff values – perhaps it doesn’t matter how they come to understand them though!
- Perhaps in general it is vital, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be from the same organisation
- No one owned up to having an MBA, or transitioning in from a business background to run a service. NVQs were mentioned though and the LFHE, which can be more profitable and give better experience.
7) How do you handle difficult behaviour in your staff? Particularly where staff refuse to cooperate with each other?
- With fairness and transparency!
- Often it is case of what you’re not doing, rather than what you are
- Talk to the individuals in private and try to identify any causes of friction
- Do not demonise anyone – often problems and legitimate and solvable
- Key is communication – the difficulty is handling it correctly! You must maintain your staff’s confidence
- Try to step in before it gets to the stage that staff refuse to cooperate with each other
8) Have you ever had to manage a disaster situation such as a flood?
- Minor leaks are often solved with buckets!
- Absorbeez cushions were highly recommended for leaks, spills and minor floods
- Some problems with fire alarms, power issues, and asbestos removal were reported, but no long term disasters
- Water pipes and air-conditioning units leaking onto stock seem rather common! Mop up, replace stock, and try to keep going. One experience was retold where the library enquiry desk stayed open, but the rest of the building was closed while renovation/repairs took place
- No one had experienced a fire (thankfully)
9) How does your organisation support its managers personal and professional development?
- Investors in People Award was mentioned as a positive symbol for an organisation, and made a difference to its workforce
- Some are happy to provide time/limited funds to directly relevant courses
- First aid courses were listed as often provided by organisations
- Some support Chartership, and will pay some professional organisation’s fees
10) How do you recommend getting shy, quiet members of staff to communicate with their colleagues?
- Maybe they don’t want/need to? Happy as introverts? No point in pushing
- Do not make it an issue! There are many ways to communicate within teams – perhaps try more 1-2-1s if necessary?