I hope you have David Bowie running through your head thanks to that title.
I’m a big fan of change. I’m of the opinion public libraries should change. Our communities certainly change so it’s our responsibility to reflect those changes in our programming, our collections and even how we operate behind the scenes.
My library is in the process of some pretty massive changes.
We’ve gone through changes in the past. Due to declining tax revenues, our hours were reduced as were our staffing levels. Our teen department moved from the main floor to the 2nd floor with the children’s department. We ceased loaning VHS tapes. And so on and so forth. Some of these changes were barely a blip on staff radar. Some of these changes were devastating to staff morale.
I can only assume staff morale was a big reason leadership at my library decided to have an all staff meeting on “change management” to introduce the latest changes. A four hour meeting on change management to be precise.
I’m not going to lie: I was skeptical. I’m fine with change! Four hours seemed excessive and really challenging staffing-wise to cover desks as we remained open and staff were split into 2 groups. Plus, my group was meeting at 8 am.
I am not a morning person.
The very first thing I did was bring my own coffee. Because coffee. When I walked into the room, I purposely decided to not sit with my department and sat in the front row, dead center. I’ve been accused of not being able to “hide my face” which essentially means, I’m completely readable. I was determined to be open-minded and present.
I gotta say, it was way better than I expected.
We started with introductions of our facilitators and then our director shared the changes that were coming: an entire rearrangement of the main floor, centralized ordering, staff shifts in responsibility, etc. We had 10 minutes to process the changes by ourselves and then we broke into small groups to talk about them. I was so glad to have not sat with my department for this. I love my team. I really, really do. But it was really nice to hear from people in other departments how they were feeling especially since the major changes would not be affecting my department-except for a little part about losing a full time person to collection development and not replacing her so….yeah. That’s going to be quite a change for our department.
We got back together and were able to ask our director specific questions about the changes. We had a short break (snacks! more coffee!) and then got back together to discuss leading change.
This is where I had a major aHA! moment.
There was discussion about “common dysfunctional behaviors” people tend to fall into when faced with change: conflict, distance, triangulation and under or over functioning.
Oh hey. That’s me. I over function.
Upon hearing we were losing a staff member in YS, I immediately starting thinking about what I could/should/would have to do in order to absorb the loss. I could sneakily skip breaks: there’s 30 minutes a day! I should take on more responsibility! I would have to learn how to multitask even more!
This fall I had my annual review. We have a new review system I really like that involves setting personal measurable goals and a section involving our supervisors rating us on personal service, innovation, library stewardship and teamwork. I was feeling pretty confident going into my review and was at first shocked to hear I got a “needs improvement” on teamwork.
WHAT?! I’m an amazing team member! I take on as much as I can in order to reduce the work load of my team! I take responsibility for my programs and execute them as much as I possibly can without help!
Oh wait. That’s not being a good team member. That’s actually the opposite. My supervisor explained in my review that I set incredibly high standards for myself which is good, but my expectations of others is unrealistic and I make my disappointment known when they don’t meet my expectations. That’s when I learned I don’t hide my face well.
As I look back on this year, I’m incredibly proud of the work I have done for my community. My storytimes are so much more intentional as I’ve learned more about child development. I’m able to communicate clearly with caregivers why I’m doing what I’m doing and encouraging them to continue to read, sing, talk, play and write at home. I’ve led the charge with passive programming allowing so many more children to have positive experiences within the library. I’ve sought outreach opportunities to expand the reach of the library in my community.
As I look forward to the upcoming year, I’m optimistic about the changes forthcoming. I’m going to take what I learned from that four hour change management meeting: be calm when I recognize I’m anxious, try and understand other people’s perspectives, share my own views without demanding agreement from others and listen more than I talk. I’m going to attempt to recognize when I’m about to over function and ask for help from my team. I’m committing to be a better team member.
Don’t worry. I won’t be able to hide my face. I’ll over function. I’ll fail.
But you can bet I’m going to do my very best to fail forward.