Monday, April 16, 2007

TLA 2007 Conference Notes, Day 1: Contributed Paper on Tips for Middle Managers

Contributed Paper: Jan Kemp and Trina Nolen, "Becoming a Successful Middle Manager."

(As it often happens, I decided to stay and listen to just one more paper. I was not planning on staying for this one, but the topic was of interest. Besides, my supervisor says I need to work more on my skill set to become a supervisor, so may as well see what I can learn.)

  • Middle managers are the ones between the staff and the library administration. (In my scheme of things, my supervisor would be a middle manager since she is between me, the frontline staff, and the library administrator, the director). Middle managers work with staff, other librarians, and library administration, which means their job is not easy as they try to balance all this.
  • People suffer with bad managers (ok, snark here: duh).
Some best practices:

  • Catch people doing something right.
  • Foster open communication. Be collegial. For an employee, having a suggestion implemented can be very motivating (I am guessing the reverse is then true as well. Having your suggestions constantly ignored is not motivating at all).
  • State expectations clearly.
  • Enable coworkers through roving leadership. Foster ownership and give chances for leadership to the staff. This demands that we enable each other and that there is good delegating.
  • Manage your relations with peer managers wisely.
  • Know your boss's expectations and preferred communication style.
  • The old adage of document everything still applies. And don't procrastinate on doing the performance evaluations.
(While this is good advice, I am thinking a lot of this is common sense. The stuff about documenting and making expectations clear are things I learned during teacher training. I have a theory that teaching in a public school pretty much prepares you for management. Think about it: you are in charge, so to speak, of a bunch of teens. You need to set clear expectations. You need to document everything and be timely in providing evaluations and feedback. You need to nurture them, and giving them leadership opportunities is one way. Also, you need to know what your principal, the boss, expects and how to communicate with him. You see, not that much different. Still, for librarians seeking some advice this was alright).

Update Note (4/18/07): I found the handout that was provided for this session. It was a nice piece as it was done in the form of a newsletter, and it is very informative. A pity there is not an online version as of this writing.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice job of summarizing the presentation. I agree that most, if not all of the best practices I included in the paper would appear to be common sense. If so, why don't we see everyone applying them? (Maybe you do see everyone applying them?) In the management text for my first course in business grad school, the authors made the point that management concepts often are not intuitive, though of course, they want students to buy their textbooks...jk

Angel, librarian and educator said...

That is a good question. Often, the (cynical) answer is that something is not implemented precisely because it makes sense. Go figure. Best, and keep on blogging.