As you settle into becoming a manager, you will be faced with many new tasks. Once you have started to manage your people, your stress, and your priorities, you then need to start setting the vision.
Master of All
The purpose of public libraries can be hard to pin down because it is so broad. We want to be everything to everyone. I struggle with the simultaneous goals: circulation, programming, outreach—you know the deal. I once read about a visioning technique where you discover your purpose by imagining your library receiving an award: What is it for? You can do this at the department, branch, or system level. In one year, what should your library receive recognition for? Lives have been changed, the community has grown, what did you do to contribute?
Take your vision and focus on it until it becomes a part of the culture. Clearly state where you want to go and try not to waver. When something shiny pops up, quickly assess: Does it fall in line with your vision? If not, move on! We tend to overcomplicate things. We don’t just want to create a new program; we want to add ten elements to make the program really great! Wasn’t it Coco Chanel who said to take one accessory off before you leave the house? Take some items off of your grand proposals so that you can focus on the vision.
Don’t give people room to guess. This leads to many versions of the truth, low morale, and general grumpiness. If you can tell your staff the vision in ways that makes sense to them, you will be successful. Will it be overnight? No. Will it be fireworks and unicorns? No. Staff will begin to trust you once they see the results. Sharing information is a skill some must learn and some have naturally. Take time to develop the skill of immediate information sharing.
Once you have shared the vision, and any relevant information, the staff will begin to learn how to behave. They will look at new opportunities with a more critical eye. Does this fit in with where we want to go? Your customers will notice the change, your volunteers will want to be a part of it, and your staff will reach new heights. I promise.
Maintain Forward Movement
You set a vision, and you shared it. How do you maintain movement with all of the daily tasks? Sometimes you have to recommit by reviewing your vision and your goals. Post them in your office and the staff work room. Refer back to them during staff meetings, say the word “community” fifteen times a day—whatever you have to do to communicate and push everyone forward.
Be sure to catch up on Part 1!