Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Whatever it Takes! with Julie Gaver

Yesterday, on Monday, March 26 in Frostburg I had the chance to attend Julie Gaver's workshop, "Whatever it Takes! Building Camaraderie, Enthusiasm, & Team Play." I'd never had the chance to meet Julie before, though I'd heard OF her as a great training facilitator, so it was a great opportunity to connect. I like that it gave all of us across the region a chance to engage in some fun team building activities in mixed tables as well.

Takeaway #1: I think most of us have heard this phrased in some way before, but it never hurts reminding ourselves of it: We each have tasks that we need to accomplish, so let's get them done in way that allows us to have the most fun at the same time. I think it's very similar to the "Fish Philosophy" idea.

Takeaway #2: Attitude matters. Each of us can very quickly set the tone for those around us. Though I try to always keep this in mind, the next time I feel a sigh coming on I'll try to stifle it before I start spreading Eeyore vibes around!

Takeaway #3: At 3 of the 4 tables the exact same set of four values were identified as most important (table 4 was very similar): Cooperation, Reliability, Responsiveness, & Integrity. Values we can all believe in.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Talk to the Hand

The Talk to the Hand workshop was fun and informative. I thought I would end up as a different type of "bird" than I did when I was finished. I think it provided insight for me into different types of personalities and they way they handle conflict. I believe that it is necessary to have those different type of bird personalities and attitudes to provide a well-rounded team approach in a library when interacting with the public and other staff members. It provided me with some insight into the way not only staff reacts to situations and why, as the "bird" type I am, that I interpret their reactions. Thanks, I am glad I attended.

Talk to the Hand

I attended Julie Gaver's workshop 'Talk to the Hand' on March 19. Even though it was billed as 'Tips for dealing with conflict in the workplace', I found that the tips I learned can be used at home and elsewhere when necessary. There is no way to avoid conflict, in fact conflict can be a good thing at times. Julie showed us ways to identify different conflict management techniques. She had us assess ourselves to discover how we deal with conflicts. The bird motif was clever and I am proud to say I am an owl! (That was my high school mascot!). Now I can (hopefully) find ways to manage conflict both at home and at work!

Talk to the Hand

I found this workshop interesting. It gave me some insight as to my co-workers "bird" personalities. I do know that in this job it takes all types to handle the situations that arise. The presenter was humorous and kept our attention. Easy to relate to many of the situations that were shared. Good time!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Talk to the Hand

This was an interesting workshop, because of the "after" conversations it evoked in my branch. Here's my thought, all of us have the capacity to exhibit characteristics of each species, given any situation, one or the others is always needed.

March 19 2012 Talk to the hand: A guide to dealing with Conflict in the Workplace

This was one of the better workshops I've attended. Julie Gaver kept her audience's attention with a lot of humor and made the learning a lot of fun. The workshop was on conflict management: the five types of conflict management styles, how to resolve conflict in a productive manner and what to say when in a difficult situation. The activities were interesting: we wrote down different scenarios (some that had really happened in some of the branches) and went through a few of them. I learned that sometimes it's very hard to keep a smile on my face when dealing with unruly and nasty patrons (never staff)! We were shown positive ways of dealing with them. BTW I'm a hummingbird.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

PLA 2012: Tell Me Something I Don't Know

Joan Frye Williams and George Needham presented this program which focused primarily on what public librarians can do to foster more meaningful community engagement. However, since I work for the Western MD Regional Library where my civilians/stakeholders are my library colleagues in Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties ... I kept translating their valuable points into terms that I can apply here - most of which are just questions to think about. For example:

  1. Joan and George made an excellent point that library employees need to come to grips with what the public actually wants and not what we think they should want. This isn't anything new but how many of us actually follow through? In terms of the regional, are we falling into this trap as well? Are we imposing what we think the counties' library systems should do/know/provide or are we really listening and giving them what they want so they can do their jobs to the best of their abilities?
  2. The biggest statement they made and it's more or less a restatement of the aforementioned point, was, "it's not the community's job to understand the library; it's the library's job to understand the community." Do we at the Regional really understand our customers in the three counties or are our perceptions of ourselves and each other skewed? How can we tell?

The biggest take-away for me what their suggestions on how to get insightful information from the community and I would like to try and apply these suggestions to the 2012 Training Needs Assessment which will be launched in another 2-3 weeks. In order to get useful, applicable, act-on-it-now information they said:

  1. Ask what the community values. It's much easier for folks to talk about what they care about in real time than to speculate on what they might care about in the future (i.e. what are your current training/education concerns)
  2. Ask what results the community wants. Results are tangible - much like the way effective learning objectives should be. (i.e. What functions do you want to be able to perform in Outlook?)
  3. Ask what challenges they're facing and how they'd like to see them resolved (i.e. I have difficulty completing my staff's performance evaluations because I don't know what feedback I can give them that would be helpful and it seems as though there's not much importance put on the reviews. Ideally, I'd like evaluation time to be a team effort that isn't a chore and that provides two-way feedback that is somehow tied to rewards).

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree/disagree? Why? How would you like to see the Regional's Training Needs Assessment handled? I'd love to hear your suggestions!

PLA 2012: Warren Graham

I attended Warren Graham's presentation at PLA purely out of curiosity because the rave reviews I've heard from colleagues regarding his keynote at the 2009 Tri-County Summit do not jive with my impression of him after having read his book and I wanted to reconcile the two once and for all.

So, am I reconciled? No. But I can understand why so many of my colleagues and friends enjoyed him - he has a strong talent for pointing out our (library employees) foibles in a mostly respectful manner (not unlike the celebrity roasts that are shown on cable).

After hearing his presentation I realized a couple of things ... please take them with a grain or two of salt:
  1. Sometimes I think many of the difficult situations front line library staff experience with customers is due to a difference in mental models. Library employees see ourselves and our libraries one way and our customers see us and our libraries another way. Is one right? Is one wrong? Perhaps that's the wrong question. I believe our customers' mental models are the most justified ... based on Joan Frye Williams' and George Needham's PLA presentation which I'll link up here as soon as I post it. Basically, I believe we need to meet our customers at their mental models rather than trying to have them meet ours.
  2. My hackles raised ever so slightly when Graham said that most of us (library employees) are passive and do not stand up for what we believe it. Then I started to really think about if this is true for myself and why that might be. I think I'm much better than I used to be. When I first started working in libraries and I felt very strongly about something - I would stand up for it but ineffectively - because I would let my emotions run the show instead of my reasoning (if anyone is familiar with the rider and elephant metaphor - here ya go). It's been my experience that there is an aversion to employees expressing strong emotions in the work place and I'm not quite sure how this came about but I think this aversion is related to why Graham sees us as passive. I think there's a fear that we'll be reprimanded if we do stand up for what we believe in and in doing so overly express how we feel and not just what we think. Maybe there's a training topic there - how to express ourselves passionately yet respectfully in the work place - especially when we're angry which is a completely healthy emotion.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you had similar experiences? Similar impressions? Different experiences? Different impressions?

Julie Z.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What's New in Children's Literature

Jeff Ridgeway and I attended "What's New in Children's Literature and How to Use it in Your Program 2012" on 2-29-12. It was presented by one our favorites, Dr. Peggy Sharp, from the Bureau of Education & Research. We follow a handbook with books categorized with breakdowns of titles and authors. Brief descriptions are also in the booklet and is subsidized with Peggy's elaboration. Audience participation is requested. It is a fast-paced learning experience but appropriate for all participants. I will send out a notice when the next workshop is announced. Please join us. Naomi Butler