Management: Theory VS Reality

Congratulations to me on being promoted to manager! I am now (and for the first time) responsible for a team of three library assistants. By accepting this responsability I agreed three simply objectives:

  • to become a professional manager
  • to get people of diverse backgrounds and skills to fulfill their individual and team library objectives
  • to create a spirit of teamwork within the health library

In theory they seem so easy to achieve, but I realised how arduous and how much energy I have to spend in order to achieve them.

During the last months I thought a long about the reason why everyday I felt so exhausted and tired at the end of my working day. The simple answer is that before this job I used to manage only one person: myself. In this limited managerial function, only my passions and efforts determined my success. Although I have been good at what I was doing, I now realise that those skills that were once rewarded are not what I get paid for now.

I now get paid:

  • to create a library team in which all feel motivated to be the best they can be
  • to encourage my team to cooperate and achieve library’s objectives
  • to ensure that my team abides by ideals and standards

I think the main ingredient for being a good manager is creating a healthy manager-employee relationships where employees feel that the library belongs to them as well as to me and my manager. That feeling will motivate people to work better and increase the productivity.

My team is composed by people of diverse abilities, personalities (!!!) and backgrounds however I am working diligently to develop and grow full potential of my team. The actual reality is not easy but with perseverance and good examples I will improve the team. I’ve just chosen my battle.


Happy working

What does make you happy in your working place? I was reading Daniel Fujiwara’s essay (2015) about happiness related to well-being and quality of life and I found particularly interesting the fact that government policymakers are trying to measure its level.

Does your University’s management team or manager investigate/review the level of employee happiness?

Let’s start from the point that happiness makes people more productive. However it’s quite difficult to define what happiness is first because it’s a subjective feeling and secondly as human beings we experience a momentary happiness or a long-term one.

If I had to prepare a survey in order to assess the level of happiness I would explore the following key points:

  • Motivation contributes to improve the performance of organisations. Motivated employees are more likely to promote their organisations as a positive place to work, “thus attracting more dynamic and high calibre staff” (Baldwin et al.,2014). As a driving force it increases the employee’s sense of self-efficacy and creates “sustainable and enduring change through people, because it’s people who deliver results, not programs or emotions” (Pryce-Jones & Lindsay,2014).
  • Life work balance.  As time, energy and money are limited resources we are asked to rationalise them in a balanced dance. Koubova and Buchko (2013) explored the nature of this balance. Are balance work and family roles two goals contradictory or complementary? “Managers with well‐developed emotional intelligence (EI) will be better able to understand employees’ family problems, tolerate personal needs and find solutions to meet these needs in order to reestablish employees’ balance and job performance” (Koubova and Buchko, 2013).
  • Understanding as acquisition of knowledge, skills and competences.
  • Healthy working environments

Working it’s an important part of our life (we need money!) but how we measure the actula level of happiness? Do we base it on data such as income? Debate still open.


Baldwin, C., Jose, A. G., Kumar, V., & Luis Rocha-Lona. (2014). Personal development review (PDR) process and engineering staff motivation. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 25(6), 827-847. doi:10.1108/JMTM-01-2013-0001

Fujiwara, D. (2015). Happy economics. in Lauson, C. History is now: 7 artists take on Britain, exhibition catalogue, London: Hayward Gallery.

Koubova, V., & Buchko, A. A. (2013). Life‐work balance: emotional intelligence as a crucial component of achieving both personal life and work performance. Management Research Review, 36(7), 700-719. doi:10.1108/MRR-05-2012-0115

Pryce-Jones, J. & Lindsay, J. (2014). What happiness at work is and how to use it. Industrial and Commercial Training, 46(3), 130-134. doi:10.1108/ICT-10-2013-0072

Effective meetings

General Grant’s Council of War, Massaponax Church, Virginia by Timothy H. O’Sullivan © MoMA

What do you think is necessary to make effective meetings? This morning I attended to a workshop about this topic and I am sharing just few notes about it. There are a number of factors that determine the actual efficacy. One of the secret is the length: a meeting should be long enough to cover specific topics but short enough to be interesting and participative. Another one is setting a clear purpose.

A meeting journey is composed by three phases: pre-meeting/preparation –> actual meeting –> follow-up/actions.

There are three main roles: the chairperson, the minute taker and participants. Obviously the main character in meetings is played by the chairperson who has to engage participants, setting the tone and keep the meeting on track.

The minute taker plays an important role because he is forced to be an active listener and has to use specific skills such as accuracy, objectivity and the ability of selecting what it is relevant.

Finally the participants. They should be active and engaged with discussions and updates. Their suggestions and feedback should be valuable, open and constructive.

It’s quite easy to remark factors that led to a bad meeting. This is my (negative) top 5. On the other hands, this could be my positive top five if you turn the points upside down.

5) Meetings with a weak agenda. Often repetitive and dull.

4) Chairperson/colleague who does not allow others to speak, also classified as “the talker” or “know all” or “I judge you”.

3) Weak chairperson without any prior preparation. Usually this category of people is not able to control meetings and the length of the time.

2) I am personally annoyed when I spot a colleague checking his ipad/laptop for news or emails. If you are attending at a meeting at least pretend to be interested and leave your ipad/laptop in the office, unless it’s essential to your role.

1) No actions taken. Ok so what’s the point of a meeting? It’s a waste of time for everyone.