10 Things I Think About (Nearly) Every Day at Work

Outside of thinking about things like my current projects or what’s in the pipeline for the near future, e-mails that need to be sent or answered and generic everyday stuff like that, there are some things that occupy my thoughts for at least a brief amount of time pretty much every single day that I’m at work.

1. Our Organizational Culture (and How to Improve It)
– I am the Organization Development Specialist after all! 😉

2. How To Engage Our Entire Staff
– Related to that last point, inevitably, any organization will have employees that are not engaged in their work for whatever reason – they’re nearing retirement, they’re frustrated with supervisors or co-workers, the work they’re asked to doesn’t meet their expectations, of what they thought they’d be doing or would like to be doing, they’re dealing with issues outside of the workplace that impact their work. Most of what I read says it’s impossible to reach everyone but, being a bit of a glutton for punishment, I still find myself trying to figure out the magic key that will do this.

3. What Public Libraries Will Look Like in the Future
Not just next year but what will libraries look like in five years? In ten years? In twenty years? (As with trying to engage every single staff member, this may be a futile exercise. Would someone in 1990 have been able to predict the impact of the Internet on libraries? Mobile? The shift to community based service models? Coffee shops?)

4. The Changing Nature of Library Staff
Being in HR, this is something I see regularly – the people who tend to get hired, promoted or whatever aren’t necessarily the same people who would’ve fit these roles in the past. An anecdotal example – I recently heard someone comment about how libraries tend to attract introverted, bookish types in general. Another person replied, “Well, that’s changing – I would say a lot of the people coming out of library school now are a lot more outgoing and extroverted, tech and media savvy than ever before.” And you know? That person was probably right.

5. Management Theory and Differing Management Styles
I’ve often made the joke on my blog that the 25 year old me would probably punch the 37 year old me in the face if he saw how much he was reading on management theory, business books and related topics. (Actually, it was only four short years ago that I was handing in assignments in a Management class at FIMS where Dilbert was my sole citation. I still feel somewhat justified on that though – that prof was *truly* bad.) But now I find there is enormous value in reading a range of books, articles and web sites which either directly or indirectly relate back to management techniques.

6. My Pet Projects
I’ve got a few ideas for potential projects I could do in a wide variety of areas – some have been proposed and are awaiting approval/rejection, some have indication that they can go ahead but at some point in the future, some are in draft stage and need to be put forward and some are still sitting somewhere deep in my brain as little idealings.

7. The Massive Differences Being in A Larger Organization From Everywhere I’ve Worked Before
When I get around to writing about RPL in my ongoing “5 Things I Learned (At Every Place I’ve Ever Worked)” series, probably the first thing will be the massive adjustment I had to make (and still have to make on a regular basis) having previously worked for organizations that tended to have between 3-10 employees (Southeast Regional Library had over 100, 80 of whom I supervised. But given the geographical distances within the region and lack of regular direct contact, that really felt like I only had the 10 or so fellow employees that made up our staffing at the regional HQ.) Sometimes at RPL, with over 200 employees, it’s as simple as realizing I don’t have to take a photo if I need one – we have a Marketing Department to do that; I don’t have to update the web site as we have a web technician to do that; I don’t have to move chairs or transport boxes, we have Physical Plant staff to do that. Coming from a world of “you’re pretty much it so you do whatever needs to be done” has been a real shift for me which, as I said, is something I’m still working on.

8. How Much I Enjoy Interacting With My Co-Workers
I’m not sticking this point in as a kiss-up in case any RPL colleagues read this – I sincerely love that my job gives me the opportunity to have regular interactions and in-depth discussions with staff throughout the entire system and at all levels.

9. How Lucky I Am To Work in A Public Library
Truly, (most days) it doesn’t feel like a job at all – a big sign that you’ve found a good place for yourself!

10. If I End Up Spending My Entire Career at RPL…
…will I be proud of the actions I’ve taken, the projects I’ve completed and the achievements I’ve made?

Comments 2

  1. Heather wrote:

    I read your posts about your job with interest, but I am genuinely curious: what does a typical work day or a typical week look like? E.g. at #7 I understand that you don’t have to do some of the hands-on tasks that are part of a smaller system, but instead, what do you do?

    Posted 06 Nov 2010 at 4:44 pm
  2. HeadTale wrote:

    One of the great things about my job is that each day is very different and there’s no “typical” day really.

    For instance, here’s a sample of some of the things did during the past week…

    – spent two half days with our newest branch librarian orientating her to all aspects of our system, our policies, our history and so on. This included a tour of Central and going out for lunch with her, her new manager and another librarian who’s the head of our Central Adult Branch.

    – finished another draft of an RPL HR Strategic Plan which will go to our Administrative Group for their meeting next week. When approved, this document will summarize/guide the HR Unit’s activities until 2012 and give our Unit a lot more direction than we’ve had in the past. (Much of this document comes out of a staff retreat our unit did in September for which i was the main organizer and also the facilitator.)

    – a related activity is working to develop a performance planning process for RPL. They had one in the past apparently, it somehow slipped away as these things sometimes do and now we’d like to bring it back. There are lots of benefits but from my perspective, this will help us be more targeted in our training and development activities.

    – Speaking of, I did a bit of work around some system-wide training we’re just in the midst of. It’s called Professional Assault Response Training (which sounds more intense than it is!) but which is essentially teaching our staff strategies for dealing with patrons who may be frustrated, angry, manipulative or fearful. It’s not self-defense training but there’s a bit of hands-on “hold breaking” stuff as well and it’s going over very well with staff so far.)

    – I spent quite a bit of time tying up the loose ends from our annual staff conference, a one day in-service where we close our branches and bring all staff in for a day of speakers on library and life-related topics, staff recognition activities and just getting to spend colleagues old and new. The actual things I did to finish the project off were wrapping up with the venue and presenters (invoices, satisfaction surveys), reviewing staff feedback forms, planning a final debrief meeting for our conference committee/pizza party for committee & volunteers.

    – helped develop a survey for one manager who is doing a province-wide survey on early childhood literacy.

    – without having formal meetings, I often find myself having informal chats with people throughout the organization – managers and otherwise – just to hear how things are going and then to take that knowledge to try to help RPL operate in a better, more effective fashion. I’ve put forth a couple different proposals to this end which are sort of in a holding pattern right now so I won’t discuss them here.

    – sat in on a branch head’s meeting where our Assessment Librarian facilitated a “sacred cows” exercise for all of us.

    – as you know, we’ve moved to a new ILS featuring a common user/bibliographic database for libraries across the province. I created an internal blog which serves as a central clearing house for the latest news, changes and so on. I still regularly post new info to this blog and I’m also part of a group of four staff who answer staff questions about the ILS. My colleagues recently did an analysis where they determined that most queries fell into one of six areas. So I’ve prepared a draft blog post to address where things are at with each of these six overarching areas.

    Those are a few of the things I did last week off the top of my head. As I said, every day and every week is different which is one of the things I like most about this job.

    On the books for this upcoming week is more orientation time with a new hire (and arranging mini-branch tours we do whenever we have a group of 4-5 new hires built up), meeting with a manager to plan some training we’ll likely do early in the new year and the initial meeting of an SLA committee that’s looking at how the province’s annual library conference could be improved and possibly arranging one or two training activities for December – one I just found out about last week and one that we’ve been planning for a few months but which has been awaiting management approval.

    Posted 07 Nov 2010 at 10:41 am
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