Sunday, October 2, 2011

Table Talk: Managing Internal Communications

Over 18 library administrators met from 2:30 - 3:30 in Alcove 1 on the Promenade Sunday afternoon, October 2. Cheryl Bryan led the discussion which began with detailed introductions and a presentation of what seems to be a growing concern - communication with staff during these troubling economic times. Whether it is the economy or something in the climate, library staff seem to be more stressed than ever before.

This was a lively and useful discussion for everyone and it probably could have gone on for hours. The brief table talk barely touched on some of the frustration and angst that administrators are feeling. On the other side of the coin, staff are feeling that they aren't being heard and that they aren't important.

Most administrators were from public libraries although a few were academic administrators. Everything from wikis to blogs, online schedules, in-person staff meetings, email updates and daily 'huddles' were mentioned. Cheryl emphasized that (1) there are inherent problems with library communication; (2) staff seems to crave information and input; (3) it is amazingly important.

Some suggestions were the weekly and monthly staff meetings with a time limit on the meeting agenda and opening this agenda up to all staff. Another was a review of the policy manual for consistency. There is nothing good about an anachronistic policy and all policies should be consistent and supported by written procedures.

Change in management at libraries seems to be a consistent theme in communication problems. Styles and resistance to change are major factors.

Cheryl also opened up a discussion about the importance of 'catching people doing things right' and expressing that to the appropriate staff. Positive reinforcement in these troubling times is amazingly important.

A staff that understands the concept of 'going out of your comfort zone' will show the most growth.

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