Blogger Meg Smith

Change Keeps Coming

Whether you are a project manager for your library’s youth programs or a supervisor adjusting to staffing shortages, librarians often deal with changes.  I recently attended a fascinating workshop on a relevant topic for many of us working with children in libraries: Leading from the Middle in the Middle of Change. 

Hosted by the Library Administration and Management Association (LAMA) section of the North Carolina Library Association, this workshop differed from a traditional training; it was an unconference or participant-driven event. Lois Kilkka, Deputy Director for Library Experiences with Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, presented an inspirational speech on leadership and how to facilitate change at any level within an organization.

The participants, including project managers, coordinators, deputy directors, department supervisors and branch managers from across North Carolina, discussed how to best encourage our co-workers to not only withstand but to embrace change. We formed small groups to focus our discussions on one of five topics in change management (morale, administration, communication, staffing or metrics and goals) and reported back to our large group with the tips and techniques we learned from our colleagues.

As we begin this New Year, here are 3 ideas I learned from the workshop I’m excited to implement during 2013.

  Standing at the Crossroads of Change

*Constantly Communicate

The reality of this concept is trickier to put into practice than it may seem. What do you share with staff when you are working on a project, but you are still in the planning phase? It’s best to communicate frequently, even if there’s not much to say.  “I don’t know” is often an appreciated answer when change is coming but the details may be unclear.   It’s necessary to communicate on a regular basis to ensure everyone understands what stage the library is in during the process.

*Own a Piece of the Pie

When a large change is implemented within a library system, staff members may not feel connected to the change or believe they are able to contribute. Workshop attendees recommended thinking outside the box to see how you and your co-workers can lead a certain aspect of this change within your system.  For example, maybe it’s a requirement you increase your programming, but you can still control the program’s content.  If your library receives a new online catalog, perhaps you can attend training to teach others the skills needed to navigate this resource.  If we view the system’s change as a pie, it’s necessary all employees receive a slice!

*What Do You Think?

It’s human nature to fear the unknown.   Before you share change with others, I learned we must think about our own visceral response to the change.  What do you personally see as the exciting possibilities of this change?  What are the concerns or hurdles you envision?  If you tune in to your personal thoughts about the process, it will be easier to understand the natural concerns of others when you share the need for change with your co-workers.  You can better brainstorm solutions to ensure the change occurs as seamlessly as possible.

Whether a constant in our profession or a reality of our times, change continually occurs. Through constant communication, ownership in the change, and reflecting on our own reactions, this unconference showed me how to become better equipped to help our library branches and departments move through any change. 

What changes loom on your library’s horizon in 2013?  Share the tips you have learned to better navigate this change for your co-workers and for yourself!

One comment

  1. Sue Daniels

    I really liked your suggestion in the what do you think section. I’ve never really looked at it like that. To actually think about what you are suggesting changing and then think about it in depth and think about why others might not agree with that change.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

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