Archives For support

The Mound Visit

Kevin King —  June 3, 2014 — Leave a comment
photo credit: Thomas Huston via photopin cc

photo credit: Thomas Huston via photopin cc

Recently I was attending a Detroit Tigers baseball game with my daughter.  She is still learning the game, so when the manager left the dugout to go talk to the pitcher during the middle of the game she was confused.  “What is he doing Dad?,” she asked as the skipper made a slow strut to the pitching mound.  “He is checking in with the pitcher to see if he is feeling OK, if he needs anything, remind him of the game plan, or to simply encourage him,” I explained to my young fan.  This question got me thinking.  How many times do we check in with the players on our team?

The quick check in, or mound visit, is essential for a healthy workplace.  If we are being observant of our team it becomes obvious when one of them needs a visit.  How many times a week do you simply stop by an employee’s workstation to see how they are doing?  Do you regularly talk to staff about what they need to succeed?  Are quick morning meetings in which you review the events of the day commonplace?  Is recognition and encouragement the norm?

I’m a huge fan of the idea that leaders try their best to interact with their team members once a week.  The benefits of leaving your dugout to be more actively involved in the game are enormous.  This is something I have decided to committing myself to doing during the second half of the year.  I also love the idea of short, 5-10 minute, morning meetings just before you open.  This allows for a review of the day’s events as well as a chance to recognize and celebrate success.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie Bull Durham is when the catcher Crash Davis , played by Kevin Costner, calls time out to talk to his pitcher Calvin LaLoosh, played by Tim Robbins (see below NSFW).  LaLoosh is nervous because his dad is in the stands cheering him on, so Davis does what all great catchers do and distracts him.  Soon the rest of the team is at the mound discussing their problems and Davis goes on to help them all.  Don’t be afraid to visit the mound.  Make it a regular part of your leadership duties and it will result in a winning team.


Eva —  May 6, 2014 — Leave a comment


Drawing of bullseye rendering of Ring Theory for Leaders

For leaders, it’s more like “comfort in” and “dump out.”

The Ring Theory of Kvetching has been all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds these last few months, shared over and over again as a guide for avoiding saying the wrong thing to a person in crisis. The concept is that you put the person in crisis at the center, then draw concentric rings representing close family, close friends, colleagues…with each successive ring representing people who are further from the central person. The idea is that you send “comfort in” towards the person at the center, and “dump out” anger, frustration, fears to the outer circles.

It struck me that the Ring Theory is backwards for leaders. If the leader of an organization is at the center, with concentric rings rippling out to represent colleagues, trustees, stakeholders, and patrons, then the Ring Theory for Leaders becomes “comfort out” and “dump in.” I know that I spend a lot of my time putting comfort out to my coworkers, my board, my partners, and my patrons, while taking in their concerns, opinions, complaints, and suggestions.

You see the problem, right? Where does a leader find balance in this scenario? To whom does the leader turn for comfort in the face of a lot of dumping? For me, it points out the need–the requirement–for leaders to network with their counterparts in other organizations. It drives home the truth that there are few, if any, people in the organization itself who can provide that kind of comfort and understanding to the leader. I think it’s important to have a  network of managers and directors at other libraries, people who will understand your struggles and provide support when you need it, so that you can provide support to them in turn. Most importantly, having a network outside of your organization will help you continue to provide “comfort out” while dealing with the “dump in.”

Check out this amazing article from the Atlantic Cities, featuring an interactive map of every library in the United States, created by Justin Grimes (@justgrimes) of the IMLS during the National Day of Civic Hacking.

Screenshot of US map with every museum location marked

Oh, and there’s one for museums, too, if you like those as well!

Being Supportive

hhibner —  March 29, 2013 — 3 Comments

SupportiveIt is important for library leaders to be supportive of the ideas and the work of our staff.  We want to work among innovative and enthusiastic people, and we want to be a part of a thriving organization.

Being supportive is not the same as accepting an idea outright. New professionals, especially, don’t have the experience or the history to always think of everything.  When they bring an idea to their manager, the manager should definitely be supportive, but is not obligated to accept the idea at face value.  It is reasonable – even helpful – to ask questions about the idea.  “How will this impact the staff?” and “How much will it cost upfront, and continuing?” and “How much time will you need to commit to this project?” are all things a manager needs to know before green-lighting a new idea.

I’ll go so far as to suggest that asking these questions IS being supportive, as long as they are asked with an open mind.  Hear the employee out!  Give them a chance to answer the questions.  Consider their first try as a “rough draft” and encourage them to keep working on it.  They may need to answer some hard questions, like “What are you willing to give up in order to have time/money/staff to do this?”  The worst thing you as manager could do is give the go-ahead and then watch as the employee fails.  You’re a leader, and your job is to lead.  Lead your employees to success!

Having an open mind really is the most important thing.  The employee might be on to something big!  They will be more likely to suggest ideas at all if they know their ideas are appreciated.  I can’t imagine working in a place where your ideas are always shot down and you can’t even get someone to listen.  Some things work out and some don’t, but no one gets anywhere without trying.  When you do ask questions about the idea, be kind.  Be inquisitive and actually care about the idea and the answers to your questions.

Be supportive by encouraging new ideas and conversations.  Give your employees the confidence to make suggestions and try things out.  Remember: being supportive means leading people to success…not just saying yes and hoping for the best.