Monthly Archives: March 2018

Episode 309: Building Organizational Culture



The Three Circles Model Scheme engThis week we discuss Building Organizational Culture.

Joining us is Guest Host Karen Pundsack, director of the Great River Regional Library system here in Minnesota.

The Basics

You know the difference between being in a workplace with a terrible organizational culture, and one that supports you and your professional development. If you have worked in a terrible place, you know how hard it is to get motivated to work – or even to come to work. We talked about this in our Season Two Bonus Episode on Stress Management.

When your culture is good – that’s great! People generally enjoy their job, they like to come to work, and their colleagues and patrons are generally a source of good feelings. As a leader in this environment, you main job is not to mess it up. Keep the lines of communication open, keep sharing positive ideas and energy, and stay out of the way.

On the other end of the spectrum are too many libraries that have a toxic work environment. People who work in these places are frustrated by these bad working environments. Giving their best efforts is not even an option; getting through a day relatively unscathed is pretty much all they are trying to do. Managers are terrible, patrons are mean, colleagues are either not doing any work or focused on back-stabbing instead of working for success.

“Good” means whatever you decide it means, so creating a definition of a good culture in your specific library is an important start. It cannot be just your vision of a good workplace – it needs to work for everyone. Then this is a valuable – and hard – topic for a staff meeting. After everyone gives ideas on what “good” is, what gaps do they see between today’s reality and that definition? How do they see being able to move from here to there? What can everyone do to make things easier on each other as you transition?

Set realistic goals for improving the culture. It did not become toxic overnight, and it will not get better that fast. But keep repeating your determination to make it happen, keep emphasizing the importance of a good work environment.

This is a quick look at building a good organizational culture. You can think of this like weeding your collection, or garden: if you keep on top of problems, the rest of it will be much nicer. So pay attention to your culture, and keep working to make it positive.

Thanks to our Guest Host Karen! And check back in with us next week to discuss Communication.


Episode 308: Budgeting



Welcome back to Season Three of Linking Our Libraries! We are Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we are here to share information with all types of libraries, archives, and other nonprofits working to build their skills. This season we are working through the tools you can use to be a better manager and leader.

This week we discuss Budgeting.

Joining us are our Guest Hosts Karen Pundsack and Aron Murphy from Great River Regional Library System here in Minnesota.

(Check out our full information page for all the info and links to books!)

It is a scary word, and a scary concept, for some. To make it worse, too many people come in with the idea that it’s not polite to talk about money or to ask about it; so they do not even want to get started. We never have enough of it, it’s tough to figure out where it comes from, and it flows right out the door really quickly. But we know we need to understand it and to handle it – and the pressure can be immense.

For many libraries, our traditional sources of money – tuition, property taxes, grants etc. – may be less certain or actually drying up. Working out some strategies for bringing in other money may be a nice thing; or it may be vital for your continued existence. Listen to our episode from last season on Grant Writing for more ideas there. Just remember that money can come from all kinds of sources; if you do not have enough – it’s time to go hunting for more.

This was a very fast overview of a complicated subject. Money is important, but budgeting is planning and making those plans reality. So as you prepare your budget, look back at our episode from last week talking about planning, and think about the plans you want for your library, and put some numbers to those ideas. Just follow it along, make changes as needed, and bask in your success.

It does not matter how big or small your budget is; working with it to make your library a success is important to help you build your skills as a leader.


Episode 307: Planning



Old English Garden, Battersea Park - geograph.org.uk - 286969

Introduction

Welcome back to Season Three of Linking Our Libraries! We are the Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we are here to share information with all types of libraries, archives, and other nonprofits working to build their skills. This season, we are working on building a toolbox of leadership skills and ideas. By the end of this season, you will have fifteen specific skills that will make you a stronger leader and manager in your organization.

This week we are looking at strategies for planning.

How do you know what is going to happen in the future? Do you have a set of magic glasses that let you know what is coming up? Probably not. At least, we don’t have any cool tools like that; and will be jealous of you if you have them. This is the essence of planning: think about what you want to happen then figure out how to make it happen.

Today we will walk through some different strategies for looking into the future and figuring out how to get there. Let’s set some goals, and then talk about different kinds of planning for different situations.

Overview of the Planning Process

When you are thinking about plans and looking toward the future, what do you do first? How do you start? Let’s walk through a process that will be helpful as you do your own planning.

Types of Plans

So now that we have a plan for planning, we are going to work through some of the different types of plans you might use in your organization. Remember the most important thing about planning: not doing it is worst decision. Letting things just happen without trying to figure out where you want to go is not the best way to operate. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes – you will, after all; just dive in and start figuring out where you want to go and how to get there.

Strategic Planning

  • Let’s start by looking at the strategic plan. This one is the long-range plan, the one that lets you look years, not weeks or months, into the future. In the past, strategic plans extended five or maybe even ten years ahead; as the pace of society changes it has become more common to consider it as more of a two to five year look into the future.

Tactical Planning

  • Next, let’s talk about Tactical plans. If you were a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, you may remember Captain Picard snapping out orders and requests for suggestions from Worf in Tactical. His answers were always quick and to the point, and did not get hung up in the big picture.
    • You don’t have to always want to shoot bad space guys, it is just a way of thinking about this planning style!

Project Planning

  • Related to Tactical planning is the Project plan. In most libraries, this will be the type of planning carried out by most people and discussed most frequently. Think about your summer reading program: making it happen is a Project plan.

Disaster Planning

  • Disasters are not an “if” situation – they are a “when.” You will have disasters. Disasters are scary, they cost money, they cost a lot of time you could be spending on programming and materials selection, they give you bad publicity – they are just all-around problems. Disaster planning will let you get ready so you can minimize the problems disasters cause.

Conclusion

Remember that a plan is a living document. Things will change, they will develop over time. Sometimes those changes will be great and you will be thrilled that wonderful bonus things happened for your organization. Sometimes, those changes will feel like they involve taking pieces of your heart out and stomping on them. Celebrate the first, learn to shake off the second – you just keep developing the plan until you are done.

Thanks to everyone for joining us this week! And check back in with us next week to discuss our next topic: Budgeting.

Do you need more books in your life? Sure you do! Subscribe to our Books and Beverages book group podcast. Each week we look at a different genre, chat with our guests about their book suggestions, and sip our beverages. It is always good to find a new book!


Episode 306: Decision Making



Decision Tree on Uploading Imagesv2
Welcome back to Season Three of Linking Our Libraries! We are Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we are here to share information with all types of libraries, archives, and other nonprofits working to build their skills. This season, we are working on building a toolbox of leadership skills and ideas. By the end of this season, you will have fifteen specific skills that will make you a stronger leader and manager in your organization.

This week, we discuss one of the primary skills that define good managers: Decision Making. If people cannot make a decision, or consistently make bad decisions – they are bad managers, no matter what else they do. Let’s look at some ways to make good decisions instead!

Check out our full information page here!

Have you met bad managers? Well, of course you have – everyone has. There may be many reasons they are not good at their jobs; but it is very easy to think picture bad managers who are dithering around decisions, constantly asking for more information or other people’s opinions. Then when a decision is made, it is too often a bad one, or is so often second-guessed that it becomes meaningless.

Instead of falling victim to this terrible fate, we will walk through some processes for making decisions in an effective way. No one single procedure will be right for every situation, but some basics will always be useful to you.

Making decisions is an important part of being a manager; making good decisions is even better. Use the strategies we have walked through here, adapt them to fit your needs and those of your individual situation, and use other tools that work. The process is not as important as actually doing it, so dive in and make decisions – and feel confident doing it!

Join us next week to discuss our next topic: Planning. You will take your decision-making skills and start making good decisions for the future!

Do you need more books in your life? Sure you do! Subscribe to our Books and Beverages book group podcast. Each week we look at a different genre, chat with our guests about their book suggestions, and sip our beverages. It is always good to find a new book!


Episode 305: Discipline and Termination



Austria - Göttweig Abbey - 2015 This week we discuss two topics managers hate to deal with: Discipline and Termination. No one likes this, but it is vital to keeping your library healthy and functioning. Joining us is Guest Host Kathy Parker, Director of the St. Ben’s College and St. John’s University libraries.

These human resources topics are deceptively hard to discuss. On the one hand: employees do the wrong things, or are terrible, or get caught up in budget cuts, or other situations will occur. This will definitely happen, and managers will need to develop strategies to best handle them.

On the other hand – this is not an area where you can just guess what to do. Laws are involved; and good intentions are not wrong, but are not enough to depend on to know you are making the right decision and doing the right thing. We are not giving any legal advice here, and we really encourage you to talk to your library’s or your city or your college’s HR department, and their attorneys before you make decisions. Depending on where you work, you may also have union rules that you need to follow.

Not disciplining employees, and not terminating employees, is not an option. So let’s talk about ways to do this well. We are going to skim some of the big areas of these topics to get everyone started in thinking about it, and putting together policies and procedures for your library.

Check out our full information page for all the details, including links to this week’s books!