Guest Blogger

In the Middle – and Loving It! #PLA2020

Are you a middle manager? If so, you are well acquainted with your position’s particular joys and frustrations. When you’re in the middle, you’re nimble and lead change by working “up, down, and across”. Ideally, you have an energized, hardworking team and supportive, communicative upper management that appreciates all the unique talents you bring to the position. Maybe not? Read on. 

 At Leading From the Middle, Youth and Teen Services Manager Jessica Trujillo and Assistant Director Selwa Shamy from Montclair Public Library identified challenges and presented tips for those of us working in middle management. From caring for yourself (it can be easy to forget this part) and your staff (communicate, communicate, communicate) to dealing with upper management, and working effectively with other departments, this session covered a lot of ground.   

 Just a few of the tips I came away with:

 Don’t be shy about tooting your own horn (with humility)- you do a lot! Be sure to let upper management know how the work of your department aligns with and fulfills the goals of the organization. 
 When communicating with your staff, err on the side of too much information and be clear. How you communicate change matters a lot. Staff will pick up on your anxiety or negativity. If you’re tasked with implementing change you don’t agree with, validate their feelings and remember, you’re all in this together and it’s good to have a “We’re going to give this a try” approach.
 Working for a micromanager? Drown them in information!
 Don’t have supportive upper management? Teach them how – let them know what’s not working and that the lack of support is keeping you from fulfilling their mission. If things are dire, keep your options open (other jobs are out there) and yourself built up. 
 Give staff opportunities to grow and shine as well as room to breathe. 
 Take care of yourself: Take your internal temperature; have something that feeds you at work, talk to trusted colleagues, keep the big picture in mind, and remember you are a model for staff. 

This was one of the most enjoyable and relatable sessions I attended at PLA. To all my fellow middle managers out there, keep up the good work!

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