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.

Red Nose Day 2015

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Who said libraries are boring? Comic Relief Cake sale on took place in the library today. All of the cakes were made by our staff. We raised the magnificent sum of £350. What a fun!

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I am so lucky to have such amazing colleagues who put their hearts, creativity skills, and commitments into events like this. It was such a collaborative occasion and we celebrate our team effort. In particular a colleague, who was not on duty today, still come and give us support.

My three marketing event tips:

  1. Networking with key staff member across the university. I have been talking about this event for a week to colleagues and students = create hype.
  2. Promote it across the departments. Yesterday I literally visited all the university departments inviting staff to come to the library and leaving leaflets around their offices. Going in person is 10x more effective that sending an email, because you show your face and you are going to invite people personally = it’s like a wedding!
  3. When it’s all over… don’t stop! Continue to add value to the community you’ve built. Thank all the people involved for attending because this will help when you come to repeat the event. You’ve got a captive audience, there waiting for you…so what’s next?

An unusual meeting about the format of our meetings

This morning I led a meeting about the format of our team meetings. Thanks to my open-minded manager I had the opportunity/freedom to run a session composed by practical exercises in order to let my team reflecting on our current format of our meetings.

I am proud of the way I run it because I used bits of ideas and inspirations from workshops I attended and readings about how to interact with students. I blended them together, shifted the focus on the main purpose of the meeting and hoped for the best.

In this post I am documenting how I have structured it, I’ll discuss the outcomes in next one.

Here is my recipe.

Uses: Getting my team reflecting on how we can improve our meetings.

Materials required: Flipchart, sticky notes in three colours (preferably green, red and yellow), pencils and scrap papers.

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  • Brain-warming exercise (3-4 min.): As warm up I asked my team to write their names down, vertically, on scrap papers (Francis, 2009:127-129). They had to create a sentence (even surreal) about the desirable outcomes of the session. I was impressed by the results. I was sorry for colleagues had to use “K” or “Y”, even if one came up with “Yes!” (I liked it!). My personal statement was:
    Federica
    Enhances
    Direct
    Experiments
    Regarding
    Implementing
    Communications
    Actively
    This brief session is absolutely beneficial for activating synapses that generate ideas, thoughts on the topic, needs and personal opinions.
  • Brainstorming (3 min.): The team had to write on a blank paper whatever was coming in their minds about the topic. In order to facilitate it I offered two general questions to reflect on:
    – What makes a meeting successful and worthwhile for you?
    – What are the problems and barriers that get in the way of effective meetings for you?
  • Stop, start, continue exercise (5 min.): This was the core exercise of the session, I followed Andrew Walsh’s tips (2010:33). I asked my team to identify the most important concepts they wrote on the paper and classify them using the sticky notes as follow.
    – Red = Stop doing (things done badly or inappropriately)
    – Yellow = Continue doing (things that are good)
    – Green = Start doing (things that we want to introduce or ideas)
    They wrote down their concepts/ideas and then stick them on the flip chart.

Cataloguing part (3-4 min.): Good time for a break while my manager and me sorted out and grouped ideas together. Basically our cataloguing job. Look at the result.

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I’ll discuss the outcomes in the next post. Just to say that my manager’s manager asked me to run this session also for another team. So exciting!

References

Francis, P. (2009). Inspiring writing in art and design : taking a line for a write. Oxford, Intellect Books.

Walsh, A., Inala P. (2010). Active learning techniques for librarians : practical examples. Oxford, Chandos.