Were you born without the mysterious charisma gene? Does managing people or projects make you feel queasy? Are you new to management, or just struggling with new responsibilities? Here’s the deal—management is a skill that must be learned. Don’t beat yourself up over not knowing how to handle each situation in the best way. You have to devote some time to learning this new skill. There are many tools available to help you through the journey. Let’s look at some ways you can become a better manager in your library.
Manage your people and yourself.
Your role has changed dramatically. You are no longer the person who gets things done. But wait, that was the fun part, right? From finding an answer for a customer to ironing out the details for a great program, the satisfaction was immediate. So if you aren’t getting things done, what are you doing? You are managing others so that they get things done. This can be incredibly hard to understand and accept. If you can look at each opportunity as a chance to manage someone else by coaching them, spelling out expectations, checking in, and encouraging time to reflect, you will begin to actually manage people in order to see results.
Manage your stress.
If you are like most new managers, you are stressed about your role. The worst thing you can do is to internalize it. You are frantic about getting schedules completed, responding to two staff members fighting, and trying to think long-term for your library. You have to find your flow—that place where you are being challenged, but you feel confident in your skills. Give up the illusion of catching up. You are not going to get caught up. You are always going to have pending emails and looming deadlines. Seek out ways to handle your stress with articles similar to these from Forbes and the American Psychological Association.
Manage your priorities and workload.
A lot of management is delegating and then managing the employee you delegated to. You have to stay on top of their work. First, admit that you don’t feel comfortable delegating. You think, I won’t add as much value, my employees have too much to do, and honestly, they probably won’t get it right. Holding on to these doubts can lead to so many problems. You must delegate and then manage the process or person. Just passing a task along and hoping for the best will not lead to a productive library, but being overly involved won’t help either. There are many layers of management, but when you are starting out you will quickly learn the benefits of delegation, or you will burn out. You should be thinking strategically, and you can only do this after you put in a lot of effort to delegate.
These are just three tips to help you develop your skills. Ultimately, you have to study management. You have to read, explore, and discuss it. Being a librarian is different than being a manager. Take some time to be better at your craft!