You can find many tips, strategies, techniques, etc. to employ in the workplace with the staff in mind. All are designed to bolster a staff’s productivity and yield positive results. Depending on your particular work environment, some can be successful; others, not so much.
While I don’t consider myself a guru in staff ascendancy, allow me to share one key to a successful workplace that I have found to be rewarding for the staff environment where I work (a library).
The key? Laughter.
If you walk into the staff break area at our library, you’ll be greeted by the following sign:
This sign represents the way in which our staff interacts on a regular basis. Laughter. Humor. Playfulness. Bufoonery. Whatever you want to call it, lightheartedness helps to keep things in perspective and make all those hours we spend together something to look forward to each day. Don’t get me wrong. We can set our nose to the grindstone and focus on serious productivity with the best of them. However, a shared perspective of we’re-in-this-together-cheerfulness flows beneath it all. In a nutshell, we are a family. We laugh together, cry together, rant together, struggle together, succeed together, fail together, get tired together, celebrate together, endure together. And through it all, the smile keeps us going.
A shared family-like joy in the job goes a long way. Skills can be taught over time. A smile can be shared during a quick pass in the hallway. Both have their benefits.
Challenging. Time-consuming. The first semester of this academic year has been…well, just that. I can’t remember a more busy time in my career as a librarian since 1998/99. (That’s another “perfect storm” story altogether.) And most of what I have been entwined with recently comes from outside my typical sphere of duties. Our institution is currently involved in the re-accreditation process, and I have landed on several self-study committees either as a chair or a resource person. Anyone who has been through the re-accreditation process (this is my 2nd go-around) understands what that means.
Honestly, most of my work energies over the last 3-4 months have been devoted to something outside of the library, and I kinda miss my job. (I should also note that I lament being socially MIA on Twitter, etc. with my peeps.) Special activities like re-accreditation are beneficial and much-needed. Nevertheless, at times I feel like a school kid wandering the streets in the middle of a weekday looking over my shoulder for a truant officer. (Am I abandoning my post?) Other times, I feel like Cinderella must have felt to be left scrubbing the floors while her sisters went out to the big event. (Am I missing the fun?)
I’m ready to be a librarian again…and in more ways than one. I’m ready to get back to what I know and love best. At the same time, I have been reflecting on just what it is that I know and love best.
Perhaps one of the benefits of this time away from my normal duties has been the ability to step out of the mix somewhat and reflect. I have been doing some soul-searching, or–more precisely–some mission-searching. Actually, I’ve been reflecting on “mission,” “purpose,” and the like for about a year now. Maybe this semester was the match to throw on the charcoals that I have been soaking in lighter fluid. When I heard from some of the library staff that they had a good conversation this week about the library’s purpose and identity, I knew that I was onto something.
So here’s what we as a library staff are going to do. In January we are going to hold an informal library staff forum to talk about our library and its role in our institution and higher education in general. We will reflect on:
- Who we (the library) are.
- What we do.
- How we do it.
A family meeting, so to speak. Who knows? We may even invite the academic dean and the president. (Open communication is golden.) The plan is simple: Talk, listen, and respond and then see what happens.
New year resolution. Spring cleaning. A first step. Utter nonsense. Call it what you will. We’re going to talk and listen, and hopefully we’ll come out on the other end all the better for having done so.
Time to go. I’ve got more re-accreditation work to do before breaking for the holidays.
About 8 months ago I wrote a post offering kudos to one of our library staff members. It struck a cord with a fair number of readers. Now, with some new introductory material, it has been re-published in the October issue of OCLC Cooperative eNews.
I did not agree to this because it would be something to add to my curriculum vitae and pat myself on the back. Rather, I did this because I saw an opportunity to use an available channel to cheer a well-deserving library staff member AND spread the word about the value of libraries and those who work in them.
May we all continue to collect our “success stories” and use them to advocate the value of libraries every chance we get. Whether it’s in a newsletter, newspaper, board meeting, YouTube video, or on the street corner, talk it up with anyone who is willing to listen.