Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Children's Librarians in the Lead: Managing Change, Inspiring Innovation & Empowering the Next Generation

On Sunday I went to an excellent program called "Children's Librarians in the Lead: Managing Change, Inspiring Innovation & Empowering the Next Generation."  It was presented by Amber Creger, Kid's World Manger, Gretchen Caserotti, library director at Meridian Library, and Kiera Parrott, editor of School Library Journal.  The three gave some excellent advice.

They first started off asking who's already doing a management job without being in a management position.  Lots of hands went up.  This is a common occurrence.  Everyone has to work the reference desk, but no one wants to volunteer to work with kids or in the teen room.  Often a single librarian ends up wearing many hats and essentially managing staff, programing, ordering, everything that has to do with youth services.

 First we heard about what to do when applying for a manager position.  Know what questions to ask: inquire about budget, ask about the staff you'll be supervising (how many, etc.), ask for the culture statement, and finally, find out about the library's organization structure.  Who will you be reporting to?  Consider carefully before you accept a job.  What will you be giving up?  Often times those moving into managerial positions don't get to do some of that stuff we love, like story time or running programs with teens.  You will be in charge of scheduling, budgeting, development and mentoring of your staff, hiring and firing and disciplining others.  It's a lot!  Of course, some people are probably already doing all that!  Most of all, you need to have a vision.

Great!  You have the new job!  Remember that trust takes time.  You're the new one, and your staff may have been there for years.  Take the time to get to know each member of your staff one-on-one.  Find out what they've done in the past, what they want from you, what they would change if they could, and what their job is.  Set yourself up for success!  Make sure you get yourself an early win.  Do something you know you're going to be successful in.  It will build your own confidence, as well as the confidence of your staff.

When you're in charge, you're expected to be a leader.  As a team leader you need to be able to set goals, plan, organize and get people excited.  You need to be a one-on-one leader.  You must have a relationship with your co-workers and community leaders.  It's your job to motivate them.  You also need have self leadership.  You need to have self confidence.  Don't fake it 'till you make it.  You have these skills now!  Use them!  A big part of a leader is showing up.  Volunteer to do something, then do that thing.  Work on building relationships and trust in your own skills.

Make sure you're advocating.  Advocate for services, for yourself, for your staff.  You should be doing this constantly!  Use metrics to back yourself up.  We have lots of data available to us, use it!  Make sure everyone know what you do, and always act professionally.  When making decisions be efficient and be able.  Find out what information you need to make the decision, what information you currently have and what you need to get and make the decision.  Then move on.  There isn't time to be wishy washy, and it isn't professional.

 Work on overcoming your fears.  What's holding you back from taking the leap?  Identify your fears, then deal with them.  If it helps, take baby steps.  Break things down and turn it into manageable steps.   Don't be afraid to ask.  Ask for help and advice.  Ask bosses, peers, mentors whoever!  Build a network of support you can rely on.

Suggested reading:
Be a Great Boss: One Year to Success by Catherine Hakala-Ausperk
The Three Levels of Leadership: How to Develop Your Leadership Presence, Knowhow and Skill by James Scouller
The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance---What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

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