Leaving the Library

Megan Hartline —  July 8, 2015 — Leave a comment

This week I’m leaving my job at one library to move 1,200 miles away and join another library.

I’ve left jobs before, but I’ve never resigned as a manager.  After writing a resignation email to my boss, I was faced with a whole new dilemma: how to tell my team?

Ask A Manager, my go-to resource on all things supervisory, has plenty to say on how to resign – but there’s not a lot out there on specifically how to communicate with your team. Here’s the step-by-step plan I pulled together to let people know their supervisor was leaving.

Make a Transition Plan

Helping decide on new leadership, even if it was interim, became a priority. I’ve worked without a boss before and it felt like steering a book cart with three wonky wheels.

photo of walking feet with wheels of library cart in background

Walking away. Note non-wonky library cart wheels

I wanted to make sure my team knew what was happening after I left. Of course, they know what to do to keep their part of the library humming without day to day direction, but knowing the overall plan is a big help.

I worked with my supervisor to decide what needed attention right away, and how I would share the news with my department.

Tell Direct Reports One-On-One

I met with each of my direct employees to share the news with them. An unscheduled meeting with your boss can have a chilling effect, so I broke into the topic as quickly as possible: “I want to share some news with you about me and my role here.”

After sharing the facts, I moved as quickly into the impact on each employee as quickly as possible: “Of course, this impacts you.” I then shared as much information as I had at that point, including the timeline for settling on a new supervisor.

Tell the Team ASAP

After sharing news with a few individuals, rumors start spreading across the library. I wanted to be as clear as possible, so I sent an email to my team and then my department. Ask A Manager recommends brevity on the order of a few sentences, but my personal style and library culture extends to a few paragraphs of “Here’s the deal” and “I’ll miss you all so much!”.

Exit Feedback

In one of my final acts, I asked my team for feedback about my managerial style. 360 reviews and periodic feedback are always worthwhile, but the manager-employee relationship means that upward feedback will always candor held back. This was a rare opportunity to ask for feedback with no constraints. I sent an email to my group asking:

  • What worked well?
  • What do you wish I’d done differently?
  • Specifically in communication, what different techniques or skills should I try?
  • Any other thoughts?

Return All Library Material

Sometimes library employees make the worst library patrons. I realized at the last minute I needed to turn in all my library materials – including my leadership guides! Now I need the good advice of Library Lost & Found. What are your pro tips for starting a new library manager job?

Megan Hartline

Posts

Megan Hartline (@awrybrarian on Twitter) is a librarian in Denver, Colorado. In addition to librarianship, Megan's background is in nonprofit leadership. She would love to visit your library to talk about management, workflows, or customer service.

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