I am new to supervising and it has been a challenge learning the ropes. Based on my new experiences as children’s services manager and advice that I have received from those who are more practiced, here are some valuable lessons I have learned so far.
- As a fellow youth services manager advised me, keep doing what you love. The reality is that, as manager, you have less time to work directly with the public and present storytimes. Instead, more time is devoted to scheduling, meetings and budget. While I have come to appreciate the challenges of the latter, I became a librarian so I could do the former. I still miss my weekly preschool storytime six months after being promoted. So as my colleague stated, keep doing what you love, at least a little. I regularly schedule myself and make it a priority to present children’s programs a few times each month.
- Deal with staff issues head on and in a timely manner. Whether staff are testing you, things were done differently prior or something was unclear, it is important to calmly and directly address cause for concerns as soon as they happen. This has been a challenge for me since I tend to avoid confrontation, am a people pleaser and am younger than most of my staff. However, I realize how vital this is to do. Otherwise, it creates more problems later on and is unfair to other staff that might be affected.
- Take the time to train new staff or to introduce new procedures to your team. It is so tempting sometimes to simply throw new staff or methods into the mix and hope they learn as they go. Training is time consuming and the needs of the public and the rest of the job demands do not let up. While on the job training is important, reviewing policies or procedures with a new hire one on one, or setting up a separate staff meeting to introduce new services, conveys to your team that you find their service worthwhile and can save time long term.
- Delegate. Trust your staff to take the lead on projects from start to finish. Be open to different styles and ideas. This has been a challenge for me since, due to budget reductions, I was previously doing the bulk of the children’s programming and collection development. Now that we have new staff on board and I have other responsibilities, I have realized my reluctance to delegate, which results in me being over-committed and my staff unsure about their duties.
- Take time to talk to your staff, listen to their ideas and assist them on the front line. Fostering good will within your team helps create a positive and productive environment. This can be done by asking staff about their interests, encouraging them to share how their recent program went or you offering to lend hand if they are busy at the service desk or need support with a big event.
I still am learning as I go, and while I miss aspects of my previous position, I am greatly enjoying the challenges and rewards that managing children’s services provides.
Our guest blogger today is Marie Town, who wrote this piece as a member of the Managing Children’s Services Committee. Marie is also the Principal Librarian of the Oceanside Public Library in Oceanside, California.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at email@example.com.