March 13, 2010
As managers we ask a lot of our staff. We ask them to roll with changes in processes, services, work spaces, sometimes even the department or units they work in. We ask this and expect them to receive it with grace, flexibility and a smile. If you’re a good manager you’ve planned ahead and are offering the support and resources required to make changes like this successful and as pain-free as possible. If you’re working in a fast-paced, rapidly changing environment, you’re making these decisions fast, with little to no time to really plan ahead as thoroughly as you’d like. More and more the latter seems to be the norm and that is fine, as long as we remember that we still need to provide resources, support and guidance to the people these decisions and changes affect.
So we ask a lot of our staff. We ask for their patience. Their understanding. Their cooperation. Calmness. Flexibility. Maturity. The list goes on and on and on. But what are we giving them in return? What are we changing? In my experience when we ask our staff to accept changes we expect a level of self-awareness and actualization in order to make the process successful. We expect people to be able to articulate their needs and wants in order to make a transition go smoothly. But are we asking the same level of self-awareness from ourselves? Are we moving outside of our comfort zone? Are we adapting our management styles and strategies to respond to the constantly changing needs and wants of our staff, our patrons, our libraries?
It is very easy to find ourselves in a rut. We stick with what works. What is comfortable. What we know well. Unfortunately, what worked last year or last month or last week or Hell, what worked yesterday, may not be what is going to work today and tomorrow. Can we recognize that? Better yet, once we recognize it, can we make the changes?
We tell our staff that change is good. Change is necessary. Change is constant. But are we walking that walk?
I feel like I’ve gotten off track the past 7 months. I’m stuck in a rut. This is me admitting that I need to change my approach to certain management issues. This past week reminded me of the type of manager I strive to be. It also made me realize that I got so caught up in one aspect of management that I lost sight of the big picture and the larger goal. I’ve been thinking about this all week. More importantly I’ve been asking questions and listening to the answers I’ve been getting. I’m taking this information and doing a bit of a self-inventory. Standing in front of the mirror and taking a look at things from a different angle. I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t room for improvement. I’d also be a terrible manager if I thought everything looked great.
My point is this: change *is* good. For everyone. Including those of us in charge. Great managers and leaders are constantly examining how they approach challenges and obstacles. This does not mean you have to change your values or beliefs, but you may have to change how you embody them.
We all know that people change. Yet we forget that fact when we manage performance. Here is my reminder to myself of that fact. It is also a recommitment to my staff. As you all strive to do better, so will I. Together we will do great things.