In PA, a Library Director has to have 10 hours of continuing education and the certificates to prove it. I was bad and didn’t attend any State or National conference this year, so I’m mining WebJunction for webinars.
Above and Beyond: Developing a Culture of Organizational Citizenship with Rachel. G. Rubin, MLIS, PhD, Director, Bexley (OH) Public Library. Slides here.
I enjoyed this one because she brought in outside information and ideas on Organizational Citizenship. I just listened. She talked about how new employees learn about the culture. For us, it’s the “hospitality mentality” and the fact we make every new employee complete the Extreme Customer Service Webinar helps reinforce the ideas and expectations we have. Her ideas and information about employee attitudes are worth hearing.
“Individual behavior that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system, and in the aggregate promotes the efficient and effective functioning of the organization.”
Dennis W. Organ & Philip Podsakoff (2006) Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Its Nature, Antecedents, and Consequences.
The outcomes of a High Organizational Culture are reduced staff turnover, more innovation and risk-taking, increased productivity, and increased customer satisfaction. She talks about Supportive Supervisors – how they take a genuine interest, appreciate extra effort, give regular feedback and make the job as interesting as possible. The best advice Rachel got about supervision is to be “Direct, Respectful, Courageous.” To encourage a High OCB, give staff the room to make decisions, encourage them to work together, involve staff in decision-making, give them time to catch-up, make sure they have the resources they need to do the job, ensure fair pay and benefits, rear and recognize increases in work, and “create fair and consistent policies and procedures.”
For staffing – select employs who are “pro-social, positive affect, and proactive personality.” She provides great sample questions to get at these traits. Managers and Directors need to be good role model, be thoughtful about the culture being created, hire and reward staff willing to bring about the culture you want, provide training for supervisors, and “communicate well and often.”
Failing in the Right Direction with Joan Frye Williams – Failure that leads to something good. How do you deal with inevitable failure, as it’s a natural part of learning. Children seen failure as the result of an experiment, like a scientist, rather than adults who look at failure as a moral failing or limitation. Scientific success looks at the end result and ending up in the right place, while making necessary adjustments along the way. Are errors and mistakes tolerated along the way? Often in libraries, it’s either “perfect or poop.” Are mistakes looked at as a ‘taint’ or a logical part of the learning process?
Negativity bias – we are wired to not repeat mistakes. What is at stake in a library? Is it life or death? Probably not. But failure can feel bad, especially when “we make incorrect and damaging generalizations.” Distortions can be damaging and hurt you and the organization, as well as any potential success! “If your experiment has failed, does that make you a failure?” NO! Failing is an event. QTIP – Quit Taking it Personally.
When you are failing – have a bias towards action. Leverage it to your advantage and acknowledge the failure in the first place. “More people would learn from mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them.” Failure is a wake-up call – but you can’t opt out at this point. Do something. Example of self-check implementation where the whole project was rejected as a failure when only 8-10% of the project actually failed.
Face the music and own up to the failure – take responsibility for making that announcement. “This isn’t going as well as we want.” Resist the temptation to over apologize – it feeds into the expectation of perfection. Don’t apologize for disappointment. Honest mistakes, work the problem, acknowledge the disappointment. “It is not your job to make everyone around you happy or apologize to them every time they are disappointed.” Also fight the distortion, don’t ‘catastrophize’ your disappointment. It doesn’t need a dramatic narrative. It’s probably not “good v. evil.” Evil intent = distortion mode. Fatalism = distortion mode. Totally = distortion. Get out of this mode by reminding yourself why you attempted this in the first place. What were you trying to accomplish? Who would benefit? Is it so worth doing that you are willing to risk some disappointment to make this happen? Make it less about you and more about making a difference to other people.
Figure out What Went Wrong and how to get back on track to get back on goal. Expectations v. actual. Where did things start going sideways? Reconstruct a chain of events. Project management skills key here. Line up the facts – otherwise it’s just an emotional discussion and will play the blame game. Not constructive. Just the facts. Was the failure a problem with the expectations – was it based on evidence or wishful thinking? Write down the expectations from the start and where they come from – the basis for the expectations. Document, document, document. Take those expectations and create a work plan to present back – so you can set yourself up for success with difficulty along the way. Then compare this expectations with the outcomes and find the gaps.
Discover what you can do differently – Plan B! Focus on actions and what YOU can do personally. Go back into creative mode and change it up. “get back on a different horse” Accept ideas and suggestions from other people and maybe abandon what you had planned to do. “How can we?” move away from “why didn’t we?” Dispassionately look at what needs fixed. Change it up and look for an alternate solution.
COMMUNICATE the new approach. Anyone touched by Plan A needs to hear this learning process and the desired outcome of Plan B. Desired outcome, what happened with the initial attempt, what has been changed to address that, and What to expect with a retry – important for your professional reputation. Don’t try Plan B until you’ve communicated about the new plan. Prepare those involved before the launch and make sure everyone knows what’s different and the new approach.
No Plan B? Then Recover and Move on – Let it Go! Avoid being a hostage to the failure. “If you’re going through hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill. Don’t wallow and appreciate that you’re feeling bad but keep going. “Go easy on the self-medication.” Rather, reframe the failure as a single incident – put it in proportion. A single defeat isn’t a final defeat (F Scott Fitzgerald). Revive your self-worth and that you are OK. Hang out with people and have self-compassion. Humor to the rescue? Re-engage your creativity and use that part of the brain. Continue to take calculated risks – fight the negativity bias. Try, try again.
When you’re the boss… Focus on the desired outcome – what is the service outcome – help your staff frame the goal. Link the goal back to the benefit to the people you serve and uphold the organization’s values. Reveal your evolution criteria – articulate what success means. What are the limitations – reveal them from the start. Avoid any “gotchas”. Be open to new approaches, especially if they are uncomfortable or new to you. Coach without micromanaging. Be patient – allow time for things to develop (cat waiting for the mouse). Allow for a period of ambiguity and frustration. Let others fail. Example, first reviews of the Gettysburg address were quite negative.
Offer constructive feedback – talk about the goal, point what worked, do something generous and normalize the failure “OK, everybody has screw ups sometime, be sure to build in more reminders next time.” Coach on how to do better. Confront patterns with direct expectations – turn failure into learning. Mentoring opportunity.
Large some short-term wins. Close-in milestones to build confidence and reinforce that things are back on track. Be overt. Make sure your actions match your words. Help staff find a viable course of action and you have to have their back. Be active in helping them set expectations and recovery when things go wrong. Stay constructive. Be a coach. Reframe the failure and figure out what the next step should be. Help them turn failure into learning experiences. For Board members, make sure that you negotiate expectations up front – how many mistakes are OK on the way to this end goal? How many experiments can we make in our effort to find the best way? What result are you looking for? What outcome? Make sure the Board understands that the means may be uncomfortable for them. Do you have their support? (Pilot projects!) Give them substantive outcomes to focus on – what difference are you making to the people you serve?
It is all work worth doing and even success can be stressful! Walk the walk and talk the talk. Be entrepreneurial.
I love Joan – so glad I listened to this one.
Tell Me Something I Don’t Know – Meaningful Community Engagement with Joan Frye Williams and George Needham. 2012 PDF slides
We need to know what our community wants, even if it doesn’t quite match our image of ourselves as librarians. Demographics are not enough – they don’t predict behavior or give enough specific information about what people want or their information needs. Satisfaction surveys are not that useful for planning data, either. Limits the discussion to just people who like you or use your service. Shuts out anyone who is not using the library. Who speaks for your community? Talk to the movers and shakers and also people we don’t personally interact with in the library. For meaningful input, you need to move to the community scale. Unearth what the community values and know that this changes over time. Who lives in the community now v. who lived there in the past – have your services changed to meet new demands and new community users. Pay attention to what our users value – ask the right questions. Start the community group conversation with “What’s great about living here?” or “Why do people choose to study here?” “If you could change one thing, what would it be?” “What keeps you awake at night?” George says, “To be meaningful, the conversation has to be about what they care about, not what we care about.” If you talk to parents about programs, you say, “what do you want for your kids?” – ask about outcomes and results and then we determine what programs will get them to the desired outcomes. You need to ask personal questions – get human. Ask about values and what they enjoy, but don’t ask about behavior. Bad question: “Where do you hangout on the weekends?” Better question: “What makes a destination attractive to you?”
LISTEN, don’t explain. Don’t try to point out constraints or poo poo the idea. Get their sense of what they care about. No need to educate people. It’s our job to learn about our user. Future – you can ask people to look ahead without asking them to make things up. Analogies – how can the library be more like X, Y, Z. Example, web site redevelopment based on other great sites. Experiences – talk about consumer experiences and ask “Think about a favorite place to shop, what do you like to shopping there?” why do you like to go back there? Is it the people? the hours? the cleanliness? People often describe how the experience made them feel, without prompting it. “They followed me around and made feel like I was gonna steal something.” OUTCOMES – What’s the finish line? A new job? Smart kids? Fun book to read on vacation? Put the people you serve in charge of the desired outcome and look to management to articulate the library’s values and then the STAFF are responsible to identify and implement the tools and techniques. “Hold true to the values and deliver the outcomes.”
How to avoid wasting time – Don’t ask civilians to make predictions about the library. They’ll consider their OWN future, but not ours. Don’t ask for a commitment to services that are non-existent. (If we offer this, will you come??) Don’t bother asking “do you think you’d come to this? They’ll say yes, if there’s no skin in the game. A choice needs to be made with context and consequences.
What does work? How to connect effectively. Community meetings – work on a specific, defined problem (new library site, convenient hours, something concrete) and list criteria for a solution, and THEN talk about the solutions. Present a few or ask for solutions that meet the criteria. Make note of all suggestions – show that you hear all ideas. (Have a staff member with a mic to control time and audio quality.) Supplement with Social Media – pose question in non-library forums. Be involved in other people’s discussions. Regular updates – every week, alerts, and eavesdrop. Effective Interviews – Time consuming, so not a statistically valid.
Elevator questions: Jamie LeRue’s “What’s keeping you awake at night?” “What do you wish you knew more about?” “Who else should we talk to?” Plus “What would tell you that progress is being made on that issue?” added by Joan and George. Notice trends and threads. Just listen, make notes, and compare notes with other interviews. Right what the person actually said – raw material and use it as it comes. Don’t use jargon or translate! Example: “Literacy program” versus, “I need help with my reading.” New billboard said “Get help with your reading” showing a learner and tutor, to emphasize the companionship. Focus Groups – Good if you don’t need consensus, but just want their ideas. Probe a theme or idea or opinion in depth. Also good for small groups like teens, seniors, ESL folks. Have an objective moderator – no emotional responses, have a non-library person be the moderator, but a library observer to record. Limited agenda, 6 questions, less than 10 people, and broad to specific questions.
Surveys are LAST – most are awful and not statistically significant. Survey to be effective: experiential instead of theoretical, give it as close to the experience as possible (exit survey about what you did that day at the library), and have an even number of choices. End with a Thank You for their service (not their time). Especially with elected officials and movers/shakers – the conversation is a form of service and values the input in a different way. Open ended questions are more effective, or pop-up questions on the web after someone has just used it.
How to make sense of the input? Contract for rigorous data collection, if you really need it. All input is NOT created equal – sometimes you have to accept it graciously, but you don’t have to use it. Look for common threads the connect different people in different circumstances. A teen and a senior looking for work are more connected than different. What is horizontal. What surprised you? The Ah-Ha moment. What’s this community all about? “This is a place where people live until they can afford to live someplace better.” Libraries can help with civil service and tech skills, High school graduation, language learning classes – position the library within the community.
Chat question: What if the organization can’t make the changes suggested by the people? The question needs to be ‘what results are you looking for’ and staff are then more open to figure out what library things are needed to help reach that result. Talk to civilians about the RESULTS not the response to deliver those results. Learning from the inaccuracies – what did the civilians get wrong about the library? Just because they don’t know one thing, doesn’t mean they don’t know anything. We need to be the effective communicators. constant engagement with the community should be the rule, not the exception! (Joan is funny and has some strong opinions on the traditional 4-year strategic planning process.) Have the civilians help narrow down the outcomes – reach consensus and do some of the hard work about what the library should focus on doing. 3-8 Big Deal outcomes will bubble to the top.
Service Excellence in Challenging Times with Pat Wagner Slides PDF
Key idea: Evolve and sustain a welcoming library, consistently, for all customers.
Service excellence is everyone’s job, but we may have different roles: Leadership, management, supervision, staff, and internal customer service. Leaders champion causes and initiatives, as well as make decisions, communicate with financial decision-makers, and set priorities. Managers coordinate and maintain consistency within and between departments and buildings and throughout the library. They also are project managers, team leaders, and make sure goals are met. Is weekend service consistent with weekday service? Is everyone on the same page. Supervisors uphold library standards through education and positive reinforcement. They also translate goals into action, support staff decisions, gather input, guide people, and identify and share better staff practices. Maintain consistency with part-timers and volunteers. Staff provide external customer service, and directly serve the customers as your number one job priority. Also collect data and information while serving as either frontline or technical staff. Internal Customer Service is how you treat each other – it will impact how you interact with your library’s customers. Impacts the environment – fix this first. Have good communication and treat each other with courtesy – customers have radar and know if this is good or bad in the library. (Look up resources mentioned.)
The Welcoming Library
A physical and emotional space that people feel good about. Five Principles:
Consistency (everyone is treated with the same courtesy),
Safety for the stranger (grow beyond the tribe and treat strangers like friends – newcomers and longtime friends get the same level of service and keep your politics to yourself),
The details count (how do we treat people? Smiling and saying goodbye is as important as hello – “Everyone who works in the library if they can’t say hello, goodbye, good morning, please, and thank you then they shouldn’t be working in your library)
Partner with customers (Ask your customers for their preferences and advice),
We take this seriously (write the ideas in the plan, take complaints seriously, take action and have follow through).
Customer service is a goal, meaning a priority, in the strategic plan, with specific outcomes, leadership support, budgets, and a plan for evaluation.
How you are going to make people feel good in the library – what will you do? Example, design a department store that welcomes children or a park that is welcoming to seniors. Customer service excellence is a priority for every supervisor and manager. How is what I am doing improving the customer experience? helps prioritize.
The Ethics of Excellent Customer Service
Ethics is the study of right and wrong – codes related to how we treat people. Fairness, Access, Transparency, Privacy. Do everyone pay fines? Are all books out or are some behind the counter? Is the holds list treated fairly? Are our decisions made in the open? Do staff gossip about patrons and their books?
Self-Awareness chart – do we have unintentional different standards: One for those we know; one for those we don’t. One for those we like; one for those we don’t like. One for those who look and talk like us; one for those who don’t look and talk like us. A matter of respect and self-awareness about consistency. “Go to the library, they will treat you fairly.” Just say no to nepotism.
Welcoming – the details of our behavior
The look on our face, the tone of our voice, the pace of the interaction, the thoroughness of our responses. Do this as a group to become self-aware. Everyone at the front desk say good morning and then tracked the response by customers. We get slack – up our game and see the response. Exercise: Customers as Partners – whom do we ask for advice? Whom do we invite to make decisions? Whom do we neglect to ask? – do we forget or avoid them or do we not know they exist? We may learn things that make us uncomfortable, but this keeps us from becoming smug.
Collections, Services, Programs, and Staffing
Partner with our customers – What we acquire (ask for specific book advice), Who we hire (the long-range staffing plan to ensure the people behind the counter look like the community), What we offer (what services are only available at the library and do they want that they can’t get elsewhere?)
Our Physical Environment – invite people with different ages and abilities visit to audit the physical space. How easy would it be to navigate?
Warehouse effect, Signage, Library jargon (How good are you at phonological awareness? on a sign for parents), physical barriers, lighting, staff (speak too softly or quickly?), phone tree, comfort (no place to sit at service desks), cramped (no privacy to talk at service desks)
Support for change – from internal leadership and staff, plus external leadership from the community. Communicate and ask for input and identify community leaders who are also thinking about these issues.
Sacred Cows – what isn’t being addressed that might be holding us back?
You will be judged by your DEEDS
Make small changes and let people know what you are doing and why.
How do we prepare to make unpopular decisions? Communicate!
Active Listening article from mindtools.com
I have a slew of additional webinars to watch: Re-envisioning public libraries, Flexible spaces, Future proofing library spaces, Graphic design for maximum engagement, and Librarian evolution: libraries thrive when we change with Gina Millsap and Thad Hartman from the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library back in my home state of Kansas.
Communication Mistakes Only Really, Really Smart or Busy People Make with Pat Wagner from Pattern Research (free webinar)
We are Humans on Planet Earth
Key Idea #1: A High I.Q. is Not an Excuse for Rudeness
Key Idea #2: A Busy Important Life is Not an Excuse for Being Rude
Are smart and busy people human? | I’m important, So I get to be a jerk | Appraising status: The tribal game | Feelings and Opinions – the hyper-logical | Facts, Credibility, and Authority – the hyper-skeptic.
Improve supervisory skills of employees with superior technical abilities | Maintain high standards for civility and courtesy, not just productivity | Attract more high-quality team members for special projects (who want to work with you smartypants)
Are smart and busy people human?
Emotions and Feelings impact us all. Stress factors, family relationships, grief and loss, anger (things we can’t control and blow-up), fear triggered by promises we made, over-committing, and sometimes we pretend we are robots and not human.
Health – we pretend we are bullet-proof. Lack of sleep, poor diet, Rx and recreational drugs, alcohol, and chronic health issues. Learn to take care of ourselves and find ways to release stress.
Work – Triggers: deadlines, lack of resources & perfectionism, over-promising, “management by martyrdom,” crisis mentality creating unreasonable standards, no breaks or vacation days, and uncompensated overtime. Give time for management overhead – talking, listening, taking breaks, catching up, and taking time off for play and fun! “We bring our B+ game.” Uncompensated overtime is a problem – suicide by work and the subsidized workplace. Burnout! Be careful letting the organization get into a position where one person is doing the work of two people.
I’m Important, So…I get to be a jerk
Armored against self knowledge – more than just clueless. Defensive, turn flaws into virtues. A jerk is indifferent to or unaware of how their behavior impacts other people. Do we excuse our flaws as smartness and expect others to accommodate us?
Late for meetings and deadlines
Cutting off other people’s conversations
Micromanaging and redoing work
Poor teaching, coaching, and supervision
Sarcasm, public criticism, blaming
Grandstanding, dominating conversations
Favoritism: Consistently ignoring/favoring some
Are you apologizing or bragging? do you expect me to waste time? let co-worker mistakes slide? slack off or dumb down so other people can catch up? I am a truth teller, do you want me to lie and pretend nothing is wrong? or not step in and fix things? Do people feel smarter being around you or do they feel more stupid?
Appraising Status: The Tribal Game (small groups/cohorts of people with shared characteristics)