Archives For

My library instituted a new staff recognition program recently called “Above and Beyond.” It was meant as a way for staff to recognize and celebrate each other and the extraordinary contributions they all make. It is a way to create positive energy in the workplace, which we can all use more of!

photo round squeeze toy with excited face, arms, legs, and thumbs upAnyone can nominate anyone else for an Above and Beyond award. They can even nominate anonymously if they want. They just fill out a form or email their nomination to the Public Relations and Marketing person saying who they are nominating and why. The nominee receives a “Squeezable Praise Thumbs Up Thanks for Being Awesome” guy and a certificate. They don’t get anything fancy or monetary, since that really wasn’t the point of the program. They get recognition and we all get warm fuzzies when we hear these positive stories.

The program is not meant for managers. If we start nominating people for awards, it could look like we are playing favorites. We have had managers (including myself) nominated anonymously (thank you, Anonymous!), but that is possibly so that they don’t look like they are sucking up to their boss. That said, managers could certainly nominate each other. We wanted to minimize all possibility for unnecessary and unintentional drama with this program and focus on the celebration of each other. So far so good!

Library Staff Day

hhibner —  March 26, 2015 — Leave a comment

My library held a staff in-service recently. It was very successful, so I thought I would share a few do’s and don’ts of planning an in-service.

The Committee

Our in-service planning committee consisted of one person from each department. I led the committee, plus there was a Page, a Clerk, a Librarian, a Reference Assistant, and the Public Relations and Marketing person. I highly recommend having people from various departments on the committee. It creates a more holistic, “bigger picture” program that is relevant to everyone. What I don’t recommend is long meetings. We put our program together in four one-hour meetings. Have an agenda and then send a follow-up email after every meeting that reminds everyone of what was decided.

The Activities

We were asked by the Director to include one team building exercise. After talking it over, the committee members all agreed that we didn’t want to make anyone do anything silly or embarrassing that would single them out or require them to touch anyone (I’ll admit, that one is my hang-up). We decided to play trivia. We created teams that included people from various departments. Our library is a three-story building, so there are a lot of people we rarely see and never get to work with. Trivia teams were encouraged to come up with a team name. Some of them even dressed alike. We got to have fun in a non-threatening, team environment with people we didn’t necessarily know well ahead of time. The questions came from a trivia question-a-day calendar from a few years ago that one committee member had, so they covered pop culture categories.

My next suggestion is to give everyone on staff an opportunity to weigh in on what learning opportunities are offered on in-service day. We asked for suggestions, and the most-requested topic was emergency procedures. They wanted to do a fire drill and talk about all kinds of emergency situations like tornadoes, medical emergencies, active shooter scenarios, etc. We had a city police officer, an EMT, and a fire chief come to give a quick talk. Then they watched us go through our fire drill procedure and do a mock evacuation as if we were open for business. After the all-clear from them, we came back together as a group and the fire department critiqued how we did. It was very valuable, since we learned a few things about our PA system, our new security panels, and our signage.

The rest of the day was filled with department-specific meetings and project-specific updates. That’s not as exciting, but very relevant to everyone and a good opportunity for departments to train or share information with everyone in their department at once. Even our regular monthly meetings don’t catch as many staff members as this staff in-service day did, so take advantage!

The Food

I can’t leave out the most important tip of the day: have food and make it good. That sounds really easy and obvious, but as it turns out there are a lot of ways of doing this and you will never make everyone happy. We provided a nice breakfast spread with a variety of bakery items and fruit and beverages. Then we provided boxed lunches with three sandwich options or two salad options. My advice is to acknowledge dietary restrictions, of course, but limit the number of choices. Make it clear what is included, and what substitutions can and cannot be made. The reality is that you’re providing lunch (you’re welcome), you’re giving enough options to satisfy diverse lifestyles and restrictions, and if anyone just can’t make it work they are welcome to provide their own lunch. If they just can’t remove the cheese or abide the white bread the sandwich comes on, that’s not necessarily on you. Do the best you can to accommodate health risk, but don’t get too caught up in personal taste. At some point, it is what it is and you have to move on to bigger problems.

Conclusion

Ultimately, a staff in-service is a paid-time work day that is meant to be interesting and informative. If you can build in some fun, that’s great too!

 

Photo cc-by Calvert Cafe & Catering.

Boosting Staff Morale

hhibner —  December 16, 2014 — 2 Comments

From time to time, in any institution, staff morale can wane. All kinds of stressors can cause it: budget cuts, staffing changes, planning huge events, and even the weather. (Last winter was brutal!) When it happens – and it will – here are some ways to raise staff morale.

It’s More than Just a Job
Make sure all staff members know that their work contributes to a greater purpose. Every single person on staff plays a part in the overall success of the organization. Certain projects can feel tedious, and other duties are just part of the daily grind, but reminding everyone that everything they do benefits our purpose can make everyone feel more invested in the work itself.

Celebrate!
Celebrate success! I just said that even the most mundane projects contribute to the greater good, so celebrate the success of the project. Celebrate milestones toward a goal. Take a minute to congratulate yourselves. It doesn’t have to be a full-on party, just a simple acknowledgement and some “go team applause” at a staff meeting. (Though from time to time, a treat is nice too. Bring donuts, provide lunch, or have a lunchtime Wii bowling tournament.)

Give the Gift of Time
This can be more difficult in smaller institutions, but you could award the staff with time. Give them an hour away from customers (and/or co-workers, if they choose!) to explore something new. They could read a book about a subject they want to pursue for a program. They could take a webinar or drop in on a lecture on campus. They could attend a program the library is offering. They could visit the local historical museum and wander around for an hour. If your organization can manage it, they could even volunteer their time in the community for that hour. Help plant flowers in the beautiful downtown! Help the animal shelter walk dogs! Read to the residents at a nursing home! It’s just an hour, so it won’t hurt productivity, but it lets them shake off all work stress for an hour, recharge, and get inspired.

We’re All in This Together
If you, the leader, build relationships with your co-workers that makes them trust you, they will understand that you’re under the same pressure they are. Possibly even more pressure.  I’ve written here before about leading by example. In this model of leadership, it is clear to everyone that you are all working toward the same goal, and that you’re all experiencing the same stress. You can boost morale just by being in the same situation they are and working together to make the most of it. I’d hate for my co-workers to think I wouldn’t understand their situation because I’ve never been in it. I have been there, and I am there with them right now.

Recognize
I think the worst thing a leader could do is to not recognize a change in staff morale. You have to be in tune with attitudes and energy levels. When people stop volunteering to help, when they are less enthusiastic about their duties, when they get sick or call in more often, or even get patron complaints, you may have a problem. Pay attention to changes in staff behavior and do something to try to fix it.

Beyond the Job

hhibner —  December 9, 2014 — Leave a comment
photo credit: C.P.Storm via photopin cc

photo credit: C.P.Storm via photopin cc

Mary Kelly and I have a deal: when it is obvious that one of us is “phoning it in,” or no longer an active participant in the field of librarianship, we are to tell the other that it is time to hang it up and move on to the next phase of our life. It’s sort of like taking away your parents’ car keys when they are no longer fit to drive. No one wants to do it, and hopes they never have to. They hope that the problem will resolve itself through individual awareness and volunteering to walk away on their own. Just in case, though, we have made this pact and we both fully intend to keep our end of the deal. We never want to be what we call “RIP”: retired in place.

What does being an active participant in the profession entail? It is certainly more than just showing up to work every day. It’s more than just doing our job, too. Being an active participant in the profession is a bigger picture scenario. It involves librarianship outside of our immediate responsibility. It involves learning, growing, and contributing to others in the industry.

Being a role model for new librarians and information professionals is one way to contribute. Sharing experiences and learning outcomes with others is always welcome. It helps new professionals find a path to follow, helps them to make informed decisions about their careers, and improves the level of awareness of the profession itself.

Attendance is another way to actively participate in the profession. This means attending staff meetings, tweet-ups, conferences, workshops, seminars, unconferences, and informal get-togethers. Showing up is the first step in networking and finding opportunities. Actually contributing to the conversation or the work at hand is important too, but you have to show up in order to take advantage of the output.

Reading, listening, and watching is an easy way to participate in the profession. Read what our colleagues in the field are publishing. Listen to what they are saying. Watch the slide decks, videos, webinars, and tutorials they are providing. Soak it in and then act on it. Find a way to make what you read, hear, and see relevant.

Don’t just show up to work every day. Participate! Engage in the profession and reap the rewards of knowledge, awareness, and involvement.

photo of the word "no" spraypainted on a concrete pillar

cc-by Marc Falardeau on flickr

Your plate is full. You’re just keeping up. That’s precisely when a co-worker or boss comes to you with a new project, right? Let’s be honest: sometimes you just need to say no. How does one say no tactfully but firmly, without burning bridges or causing drama in the workplace?

What’s the Time Commitment?
This is the first question to ask. What, exactly, is being asked of you and how long will it take? If you could bang it out in a few minutes or an hour, maybe it’s do-able. If you’re signing up for months of committee meetings…maybe not. Before you say no, be clear on what is being asked of you and simply ask how long they expect it to take.

Compromise
It’s fine to say no, but you may want to offer an alternative or a counter-offer. Here are some examples:

  • Yes, but I’ll have to give up something else…
  • Yes, but it will have to go to the bottom of my list…
  • Yes, but I can only do this portion of it…
  • Yes, but I will need overtime pay to do it…
  • Yes, but I will need a favor in return…
  • No, but I will find someone else to do it for you…

Know when to say yes!
Seize opportunities to grow, to learn, and to show off your skills! This very well might be an inconvenient time for you, but ask yourself what you get in return. You might really impress someone and have their attention for a raise or promotion in the future. You might really be interested in the project and know you have a lot to offer. You could see it as an opportunity to learn something new, and new skills are rarely a waste of time or effort.

Bosses: let your co-workers say no!
Be reasonable with workloads. Part-time staff, in particular, are often stretched incredibly thin. All of these tips apply to you. Be clear on the time commitment you are requesting, and be willing to schedule flexibly to make it possible. Pay for extra time on the clock to accomplish the task. Offer a reasonable compromise or let your co-worker counter-offer. And lastly, do push for a yes when you know it is a great opportunity for the person you asked, but be as flexible as possible. Be willing to take on something extra yourself in order for your co-worker to be able to seize an opportunity.