Friday, November 04, 2011

Five Things on a Friday - Management Challenges

I've been a manager of a library branch, sorry, a neighborhood library for two months past one year. These have been the biggest challenges for me.

  1. Managing a position I just vacated
    My staff consists of three support personnel (two clerks and one associate librarian) and one youth services librarian. Immediately before this position, I was a youth services librarian. I didn't realize how difficult it would be to supervise that position. Every choice they made, I compared to what I would have done. I held them up to the standards I held myself which wasn't fair if they were a brand new professional. It was the position I am the most familiar with so it is the easiest for me to criticize. It means I could be uniquely poised to be a mentor. In the first few months especially I had to physically step away, recognize that this person was a different person and those different choices were not bad, just different.

  2. Delegating
    I'm a control freak and I'm used to not supervising people. So for me delegating has two hurdles: first remembering that I can delegate, that there are people I can ask to do these things. Second, I need to let go and trust those people to do it well. It's hard, but necessary as work piles up on my desk. I think I'm getting better. I just handed over the volunteer applications to someone else and told her she was now in charge of the volunteer program.

  3. Solving every crisis
    I like to problem solve. I like being asked questions. But there are days when I don't want to be where the buck stops. I rather suspect this is the same reason my mother used to occasionally lock herself in the bathroom when we were little. Fortunately as my competence grows, my feelings of being overwhelmed are getting farther and farther apart. I haven't wanted to lock my office and hide under my desk for at least a week now.

  4. Keeping track of emails
    I've always been a master of organization, but I was totally unprepared for the exponential way my email would increase with the jump to management. A few missives got lost in the inbox. I've gotten better about cross filing and creating reminders. I've also erased most traces of a line between my personal life and work life. My work email and calendar now alert on my (personal) iPhone. I can always turn it off if I go on vacation, but I'm a constantly connected personality type and it helps me to keep track and focused with what is happening.

  5. Meetings
    If I underestimated by half the numbers of emails, I underestimated the number of meetings by an order of degree normally only seen when talking about distances between stars. Supervisor meetings, library branch manager meetings, community meetings to represent the library, so on and so forth. There are days I'm out of the library more often than I am in. I never minded meetings when I attended two a month. I mind them more now.