As managers a large part of our job involves keeping staff informed and in the loop about various policies, procedures or information that is happening within the department.  I tend to use email to communicate the bulk of my messages to staff, as well as implementing what I hope will become a once a semester full staff meeting.  I hold a supervisors meeting every two weeks where we discuss any issues or news in the department and then disseminate the information to staff.

I also rely on face to face interactions to convey urgent messages.  Things can change so fast sometimes you don’t have time to have a meeting or send an email before staff may need the information you have.  I will often come to the desk and talk to whomever is on and then work my way to offices and try to touch base with as many people as possible.

We also have weekly staff training sessions that are held three times a week so that staff can sign up when they are free to attend.   We also have a staff wiki that houses most of our procedures and policies.  It is a work in progress and wiki training still needs to happen.

But what happens when you have exhausted email, meetings, putting signs up, wiki entries, etc. and the message still doesn’t get across?

At what point as a manager do you draw the line and say, “You’re an adult.  Take some responsibility for finding out the information and ask me or someone else?”  This is a question that I find myself pondering quite a bit lately.

I am wondering if all my communication efforts are not enough and if I should be doing something more and part of me thinks I am doing all I can.  I find this very frustrating and am running out of ideas and answers.

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A Hard Lesson

May 29, 2007

I have received a lot of email from friends, former co-workers and colleagues about this. I really don’t have much to say about what happened. I received the same letter that the other 89,852 people received. I don’t know the details of what, why, when, how, and who; and I am certain that I don’t want to know more than what is written in the letter and what is posted on the university website.

All I can say is that I feel this is very unfortunate. There is a lot of good work happening in that library. The librarians teach many classes, do charity work for the university and the community and the library is gradually implementing new and innovative services for patrons. Unfortunately, until this dies down, no one is going to remember or hear about any of these things.

I also think that this incident is a chilling reality check for other libraries. Something like this can ruin any goodwill or credibility that the organization has within and outside the institution. We ask our patrons to trust us with private, personal information; whether it be their name and address, or their circualtion history. The take home lesson from an incident like this is to take a hard look at our IT security and ensure that this doesn’t happen at another library.

Still Alive…I Swear!

May 21, 2007

I apologize profusely for the unintended hiatus.  Both my professional and personal lives have been very hectic lately.  The last few weeks have been filled with the end of the semester craziness, several trips to NY, and preparing for summer projects.

Since we are open fewer hours over the summer, more of my staff is here during the day and early evening than usual.  This means that we have more hands to work on larger, time consuming projects that get neglected during the semester.  Whomever thinks that the summer is when things quiet down is very incorrect.  We are looking at doing an inventory, a shifting project, some massive searching for materials, and various other tasks that have been ignored.

This is also a busy time of year because staff evaluations are due next month.  I take evaluations very seriously having been in several situations where I would have loved to fire an employee or two but couldn’t due to a record of outstanding performance evaluations that were obviously inflated and had no basis in reality.  After experiencing that, I don’t ever want to find myself in that position ever again.

This doesn’t mean that I am overly negative or tough, it just means that I am very honest in my assessment and will identify, even the smallest, areas that are in need of improvement.  I also recognize and praise solid performances and areas that have been improved.

So that is what is going in my neck of the woods.  I am thinking about going to ALA next month.  I still have not fully decided.  It is most likely going to be a last minute decision.  Anyone else plan on going?