Administrative and Management Skills

Advice for New Managers

Everything I know about storytime I learned from Nancy. A veteran storyteller, Nancy carefully folded me into her programs during my first month on the job as a new librarian. First, I simply observed. Next, I was allowed to do a fingerplay. The next time, I did a fingerplay and read a book, and so on. After a while I was confidently leading the group on my own.

That was not my experience when I became a manager. There was no transition period, no manual, no one to ease me into it. But over the years I’ve collected some words of wisdom that have helped me and will hopefully help you too.

  1. Don’t take your work home with you.
    As a Children’s Librarian I frequently spent my weekends making felt stories or shopping for program supplies. Now I relate to this more about the emotional baggage and stress that comes with being a manager. Although it’s not always possible, I try to limit the amount of talking and thinking I do about work when I’m home so I can be fully present with my family.
  2. Be friendly with your staff, not friends.
    I spent an afternoon with Janet, a now-retired branch manager who was well-respected in the system, and she shared with me that she never ate lunch with her staff or joined them at social events. Everyone’s situation is different, but this has helped me set professional boundaries with my staff, many of whom are older than me. I’m not friends with them on Facebook. I don’t text them on weekends or invite them for drinks.  I’m friendly with them, but not friends.
  3. You are not everyone’s cup of tea.
    A natural people pleaser, I still stress over having difficult conversations with staff, but this is a healthy reminder that although I strive to be kind and compassionate, not everyone is going to like me. They may not appreciate my management style, be grossed out by the fact that I never wash my tea mug, or maybe I’m just not their “flavor.” But whatever the reason, that’s okay.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten as a manager? I’d love to hear it! Let us know in the comments below.

Today’s blog post was written by Maria Shackles, Branch Manager at the Tacoma Public Library on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: VI. Administrative and Management Skills.

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