Your Boss is … you.

Just saw this Seth Godin post (via Stephen Abram – thanks!) – The world’s worst boss. The whole post is worth a read – here’s the part that really struck me:

If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you’d quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much as your time as you do, they’d fire her. If an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under.

Can you relate to that? Better yet – what are you going to do about that for 2011? Here’s some assumptions I’ll make about YOU:

  • Those ideas you have? Probably good ones. Certainly worth trying anyway.
  • Those improvements you want to make? Personally or in your job? Why haven’t you started yet?
  • Those hesitations you’re having about taking a first step? Get over it already and take that first step. You won’t know if you’re going the wrong way until you actually start moving.

Me? Gee whiz – I’m writing this for myself :-) So get moving, start acting, and see where you end up going in 2011. Should be a fun journey, to say the least.

pic by asma

Digital Branch Managers Sound Off – Panel at Internet Librarian 2010

Yesterday, I headed up a panel on Digital Branches. Sarah Houghton-Jan, Bobbi Newman, and Matthew Hamilton were on the panel with me, and we basically answered questions – first some that I started us off with, then questions from the audience.

Here are some of the tweets generated from the discussion/panel (our hashtag was #dbranch) – hopefully, this sheds some light into what we discussed (and a ps – if you want to browse through the actual tweets, go to this twapperkeeper archive)!

  • cougarlibrarian: Ooh – no slides. I like it. #dbranch #intlib10
  • AspenWalker: Interactive session. #dbranch #intlib10 Meaning of digital branch evolving.
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 a digital branch needs content, bldg, staff, a janitor #dbranch
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 when Topeka turned on SMS reference, patrons in the branch used it too. And that’s great. Tools, not rules!
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 the #dbranch is not just 4 users outside the physical bldg – users inside at computers may use #dbranch features 2, like IM
  • cougarlibrarian: #dbranch Does one person edit/review staff contributions to website before publishing? #intlib10
  • wiredoriginals: Love the idea of ALL staff being involved #dbranch
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 patron-created content @ the digital branch. Libraries can bring communities to world.
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 #dbranch teen-generated content is the prevalent model, but college-age & adult is emerging
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 #dbranch digital storytelling grant funded projects for all ages archived on library’s site
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 who monitors user created content? “we’re not moderating crap-it goes right on” vs “each dept head proofreads/moderates” #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 I’m a fan of having radical trust, personally #dbranch
  • GMLGeek: #dbranch do you think press releases should be monitored?
  • cougarlibrarian: The #dbranch panel is answering my question! Thanks, guys!
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 @davidleeking a blog post should starts conversation, don’t treat it like a press release. Let’s talk, not FYI.
  • TeensTelluride: Digital storytelling – community projects to add content, start conversations, and engage. #INTLIB10 #dbranch
  • infogdss29: @shifted s’ok – this session is Made of Win without any bells and whistles like wifi & candy :p #intlib10 #dbranch
  • wiredoriginals: #intlib10 #dbranch like staff directory…why hide? Also like dividing blog topics to teams.
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 focus on issues not format ie if you have to wear a nametag/sit behind the public desk, why not use your RL identity? #dbranch
  • cougarlibrarian: Trusting the staff to write appropriate content goes a long way in boosting morale, says @TheLiB. #dbranch #intlib10
  • zbriceno: Baby steps to online presence. #dbranch #intlib10
  • TeensTelluride: Wondering how to bridge the gap between IT and librarian roles? Administration & public services? #IntLib10 #dbranch
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 good question: how do you balance collaboration and digital content creation with security? A tech conundrum.
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 good ?: how do you balance collaboration & digital content creation with security? Balance, conversation, beta.
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 BETA programs!!! (tip from @TheLiB : pretend it’s a beta!) #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 IT subsumed into Digital Services Dept #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 great reminder that there are different types of and skill levels for technology #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 requirements for digital managers: inspiration, perseverance, communication #dbranch
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 wanted in dig br mgr: creativity, marketing, communication, bravery (willing to try & maybe fail), mgt, perseverance
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 day-to-day job: LRP, RFP, experimenting, managing tech training, databases, eBooks, #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10. Cheerleading and networking is also part of the #dbranch manager job description
  • detailmatters: #dbranch is proof that a good panel is made from good chemistry and humor. Thanx y’all!

Resistance vs Management

Kathy left a comment on my Posting and Traffic post, saying “I started off being the only one posting to our library blog. Then management decided that everybody contributing to it would be a good idea, so they put out a schedule. People were resistant, and kept “forgetting”. Now it’s back to…just me posting..”

Instead of the volunteer problem in the last post, this time the problem is two-fold:

1: staff not doing what they’re supposed to do
2: managers not doing what they’re supposed to do

Let’s use the reference desk as an example again. Managers – would you let people say “Nah, I’m not going to show up at the ref desk today. It’s just not a priority for me.” Um, no. That person would be booted out the door pretty fast, I’m guessing.

So what’s happening here? Honestly, it could be any number of things, including:

  • managers don’t really think it’s a priority
  • managers think someone’s assigned to monitor it, but no one really is
  • someone really IS assigned to monitor it, but isn’t doing it
  • someone’s not reporting the problem back to the managers
  • there’s no follow-through with staff, as in training, prodding, reminding … and talking to his/her manager as a last resort
  • probably many more possibilities here!

But really, the problem and the solution lies fully on management. Those “resistant” staff? That solution’s easy. Assign the work, then monitor it – just like any other part of the job.

Managers – do your job. And write a few blog posts, too, while you’re at it. Model the way for your staff. But do YOUR job, that of managing people and resources, and see what happens.

pic by eflon

Getting Permission

Last week, Emily Lloyd at Shelf Check (very funny librarian comic strip and a fine blog, too) posted What would you do if you didn’t need the approval of 15 committees? And mentioned me. Here’s what she said (make sure to read the whole post AND comment on it. It’s good):

“I think of what, for ex, David Lee King does for Topeka & Shawnee. David has lots of talent; David has lots of gear…but a lot of folks who work in libraries have lots of talent and lots of gear. What ultimately matters most, it seems to me, is lots of permission. David has that, I think–at least it looks like it from here–and most of us don’t. Many of us don’t need to be told or taught at conferences how to engage with patrons via social media, how to market our libraries via YouTube or Facebook, etc–we need our administrators to be told or taught that they should allow us to do so … You can’t seize the moment; you can’t seize the day; you’re lucky if you can seize the year. Old Spice/New Spice practically seized the nanosecond.”

She’s right – I DO have a boatload of permission. How do I get that permission? I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that, but I’ll try! Here’s what I do to get that permission:

  • Most importantly, I’m actually trusted to do the right thing … so I have permission in advance. That permission was granted through my original job description, and continues through a ton of talking with my peers and with administration.
  • Did I mention talking? Yes – I actually ask for permission. All the time. I asked for permission to do things at least three times last week – on two smaller things, and on one huge thing that won’t happen for 2-3 years (if at all).
  • I sometimes get permission without asking. I share ideas and direction with other managers and with administration, and back it up with stats, with outcomes, etc. If an idea takes off, I don’t have to ask for permission – instead, I’m asked “when are you going to start?”
  • I make sure everything I’m asking for relates to our strategic plan. Or at least to the goals of the project at hand. When I ask for permission to do something, I make sure it relates to one of our big strategic initiatives. Thankfully, that’s pretty easy for me, because building and growing the digital branch IS part of the plan. But only because a big strategic goal we have is to reach people in the county … digitally.

But I’d be lying if I said that’s ALL that happens. The organization plays a big part in my permission, too:

  • Administration is full of healthy, happy people that I love to work with! Gina and Rob, our director and deputy director, are great bosses (fun people to hang with, too). They know how to give people responsibility and let them run with it. Our other managers are the same way.
  • The library works hard to hire and train people we can trust (so I can get that permission in advance thing). But then, we go one step further – we actually let our staff “do stuff.”
  • My job is a manager-level job, so I have a say at the planning table (actually, everyone who works at my library has a say – mine’s maybe a bit more direct).
  • We have a strategic plan, and we actually follow it.

Not getting that permission? Here’s what might be going on:

  • You’re not working in a healthy organization. Your library director’s not effective, you have bosses that aren’t trusting or are control freaks (or simply don’t know how to manage people and projects).
  • Your library doesn’t have a strategic plan or goals. Or you DO have them, but aren’t really following them. Maybe someone’s scared to act on those plans.
  • The things you’re trying to get permission to do don’t align with the library’s (or your supervisor’s) goals.
  • Or … you’re simply not asking for permission. End all your meetings with some next steps and a timeline.

Something to think about – no, you can’t change administration. If you have a bad library director or bad managers, the only real way to change that is to find another job (or wait it out, if you’re extremely patient, I suppose). Sorry about that.

But did you notice? The other three points under “not getting that permission” are things you can change, or at least have a say in – even if you’re not a manager. Maybe your library doesn’t have a strategic plan – you can still set annual goals for your job with your supervisor, and start working on those things. You can focus on aligning your projects with the library’s strategic goals. And you can ask for permission.

OK – I’m sure I’m missing something here, but it’s a start!

Update – make sure to read the next post, Help Others Get Permission … and make a comment!

pic by Sean Dreilinger