Management without Fear

“Put on your big girl panties and deal with it” – original title (tee hee).
“What keeps you from managing the way you think you should manage?” and
“What’s keeping you up at 3 am?”

Our Answers:
Very few of us “LOVE” managing people. You spend so much time on the problem people, you ignore the happy, normal people. Fear of confrontation. Doing harm. Age differences. Unionized staff. Children’s staff act like children – personality conflicts. Towing the party line can be difficult. Situation gets out of hand before it can be managed. “When It’s all festery.” Knowing that if you fire staff, they won’t be replaced – someone is better than nobody?” Difficult to get proper pay. Multiple unions and civil service. Managing managers. Disengaged employees who resist change (knowledge but no involvement). Negative nellies and the 2% of problem staff. “Don’t want to get sued.” FMLA. Merging changing leadership – change lovers, change resisters. Transforming the culture of the library. Staff who still want to work at Borders – need a new model. Differences in managing men v. women. Middle management – overworked staff v. innovation from admin. Managing staff who are tech challenged. Hiring quality, but without the pay and benefits.

Six takeaways:
1. Know the Rules:
Understand governance structure, and know the basics like FMLA. FMLA can be asked to re-certify. Know the contract if unionized (to protect staff from the union). We all have a fairness gene and it’s fair to hold people accountable. Have the Discipline steps in writing – a matrix. “Showing up for work is an expectation of the position.” Document discussion (time, date, maybe use a template). Can’t go back – start from square one, even if they’ve been a problem for years. Jot down the behavior, date, and follow through–who/what/when/why/where. Manage the Human Resource – it’s the most valuable in the organization. Sticky note it or make HR part of the weekly routine. First offense – have staff send you an email summarizing what we just discussed. Document conversations, too – early on, sign.

2. Sometimes you have to be a hard ass:
Don’t let things go. Take your time. Deal with it. “Don’t shoot the Dog” by Karin Pryer. Behavioral reinforcement – is it encouraging behaviors we want? Address the behavior immediately. It’s not OK to waste taxpayer money through lack of HR management. It’s not personal, it’s just business. Difficult discussion strategies: write down the issues, meet about concerns, see if becomes a discipline issues. What you say may not equal what they hear. Need to know your staff. Tell some what you need from them or need them to do – identify what motivates them and use the words they will respond best to. How do we learn to do this – that’s my issue. Have to run the library like a business – be nice, but get the work done. Be consistent, be good at documenting the behaviors impeding their job and then the fear of being sued goes away. Look up your Yelp reviews… How do you document ‘hearsay’? “It was reported to me that this happened on this day.” Eye of Mordor…

3. Compartmentalize your relationships:
Difficult to supervise former co-workers! Friend v. supervisor time…from Buddy to Boss. Difficult to give constructive criticism to people older/wiser than us. Remember the good of the institution. Have a conversation about the friendship now that you are the manager – talk about it…before there’s a problem! Know your own style, too. Bias issues/playing favorites. Accept your new role as a supervisor – establish some ground rules.

4. Develop a hard candy coating:
Develops with experience. Management is difficult – have to do what we don’t enjoy and is emotionally difficult. Don’t. Take. It. Personally. Focus on the organization’s goals, mission vision and what you and the people who work with you can do to further that goal. “I need your help.” If civility is an organizational goal, then get staff buy in (Miss Manners team example) “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.” Embrace the ego. Speak the truth, even if it is very hard.

5. Put on your big girl pants ( or big person underwear):
Here are my cards and I’m putting them on the table. Most problems are a communication issue. Share your expectations – know them yourself. Understand personality/motivation/color/etc. and try to keep it simple.

What is #6?
We want a script – the words that are effective for delivering difficult conversations – soften the hard edges or harden the soft edges.

Others: Pick your battles. “That is a hill I am not willing to die on.” “A rat turd that you’re willing to pole vault over.” Email for the disciplinary process. Create clear expectations of managers and staff. Team approach. Focus on the positive and see it as an opportunity. Know when to ask for Help. Don’t ask the question if you don’t want to hear the answer…but sometimes you have to ask the question even if you don’t want to hear the answer. Working Girl – great management movie. Stop the festering – anonymous mechanism for ‘talk to the director’ in Sacramento. Have someone you can be 100% honest with – a vent. fake it til you make it.

Tribal Leadership Dave Logan, John King and one other. – managing as a culture, rather than processes. Manage based on how teams work together.

This was good and surprisingly interactive. I enjoyed it, along with 800+ other librarians…


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