On a + note

What do HR managers and coaches have in common?

Posted in on a + note by flickfancy on April 22, 2014

kitty#16Public libraries across North America spend between 60% and 80% of their total operating budget on personnel; after all, we are a service industry. So it’s no surprise that we are constantly looking at ways to improve human resource functions; from better training methods, to clearer supervision and a safer workplace. Effective human resources management is important to institutional growth and development and ironically is very similar to coaching a hockey team. For example:

Coaches empower players to do their very best

Have you ever noticed how hockey award winners always thank their Mom and coach for helping them succeed? They may not have always appreciated their Mom or coach, but they recognize how important they were in developing their ability to learn, grow and succeed.

However, I was surprised to learn a few weeks ago that some administrators don’t see how an effective human resources department does the same thing. The right employee policies and procedures help staff learn, develop and do their best work. Effective HR policies and procedures create a framework for employees to learn, grow and develop, while providing excellent library service. It’s a win-win situation.

Coaches are all about providing opportunity

A great coach focuses on helping players do their very best, embrace opportunities and get it in the net! They feel responsible for developing players and giving them the tools to live up to their potential. An effective coach empowers the whole team to work together, maximize the opportunities and win the Stanley Cup.

Similarly, a great human resources department is responsible for empowering employees to do their very best. Their job is to anticipate training needs and growth opportunities that ensure employees continue to grow and perform at the highest level. So they work on; rigorous hiring practices, great training opportunities, clear job descriptions and effective performance evaluations to name a few.

“A good hockey player plays where the puck is.
A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be”.
- Wayne Gretzky

Coaches teach players to be independent

Many great coaches regularly challenge players to do new things that are out of their comfort zone. These are the coaches that show their players by example how to survive, lead and thrive on their own. Great coaches trust their players and empower their independence on and off the ice.

Great HR departments do the same. They lead by example, play on the library team and don’t micro-manage employees because that would imply that library workers can’t be trusted or can’t think. Nothing is farther from the truth. I am always amazed at the ideas and processes library staff create when given the opportunity to be independent and embrace change.

Great hockey coaches and great library HR departments are all about empowerment, providing opportunities and trusting employees will rise to the challenge and do their very best. When this happened we all score.

Kitty Pope                                                                                                   #16 April 2014


And the survey says…

Posted in on a + note by flickfancy on April 14, 2014

kittyThe current Guelph Public Library (GPL) strategic plan titled Building Steam was about doing business differently, focusing on productivity and exploring alternate revenue sources. It was an ambitious and to date, very successful game plan that included annual goals to enhance customer service and strengthen organizational performance. As a planning tool, a strategic plan can either be a public relations tool used to connect with the community or it can be a set of strategic actions and programs. At GPL we consider our strategic plan a living and actionable to-do list, that is built on community engagement, supports our success and is monitored by the GPL board.

Our first step in crafting a new plan was to talk to our customers and solicit their comments and recommendations about how we can improve public library service in Guelph. Over a seven week period in early spring we conducted a series of user satisfaction surveys. We talked to 6,007 people or over 11% of our customers in person and online. This is what they told us:

► 97% said GPL was important or very important to them
► 95% said they were satisfied or very satisfied with GPL services
►when asked about the quality of services, 88% said it was good or very good

I was surprised that there was very little difference between Main and branch customer comments, except when it came to more meeting and study space at Main, earlier open hours at the branches and from our online customers, more eBooks and databases on the website.

However, 34% of respondents all agreed there needs to be more public library cooperation with local schools and 28% recommended more adult programs and events. When asked the all-important question about how we could improve library service:

► over 30% suggested more new movies and more copies of best sellers
► 23% recommended building a new, bigger new Main library
► and there were lots of suggestions about more/longer open hours and of course better parking especially at the Main library and West End branch

We also learned a lot about our customers for example:

► over 40% of our customers walk into a GPL library weekly and over 12% visit Main or a branch every day
► over 51% of our online customers visit the GPL website weekly and over 9% visit the website daily

The next step will be to consult with the amazing library staff, conduct a SWOT analysis and use the resulting data to establish and communicate annual goals, service reviews and performance measurements. We will then research best practices and innovations by identifying public library trends and their impact on customer service. The goal of this benchmarking is to develop an ambitious plan focusing on actions that will enhance GPL’s mission and staff performance.

The 2015-2017 GPL strategic plan will:

► move GPL forward in an informed and strategic way
► prove staff with a comprehensive road map of annual goals
► empower the GPL board to effectively monitor performance, embrace change and provide guidelines to continuously improving library service

This may all seem like a lot of work, but just like any business, without a strategic plan there is no direction and no way GPL can move forward, embrace change and be relevant in the lives of our customers.

Stay tuned there is lots more to come.

Kitty Pope                                                                                                 #15 April 2014


Ban Bossy

Posted in on a + note by flickfancy on April 7, 2014

kitty #14There is a new movement sweeping North America that I thought you’d be interested in. It’s called Ban Bossy . It was launched by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Girl Scout CEO Anna Maria Chavez. The goal of the public service campaign is to empower girls to become leaders by removing the negative label of “bossy” from our vocabulary and promote gender equality.

In a video Sheryl and Anna Maria talk about how confident girls are often labeled “pushy” or worse “bossy”. Whether it is said directly or implied, girls get the message: Don’t be bossy. Don’t raise your hand too much. Keep your voice down. Don’t lead. And don’t stand out in a crowd, its unattractive! So girls often learn at an early stage not to lead, not to take charge and to be content to follow.

Celebrities Jennifer Garner, Beyoncé and Condoleezza Rice have joined the campaign and in a recently released video talk about being discouraged as young girls to lead or take charge and being negatively labeled as bossy.

Interestingly the campaign has all the hall marks of a great marketing plan, including:

►a simple, clear message

►a memorable, repeatable catch phrase plus

►celebrity endorsements

All of which are some of the reasons why it has spread so quickly around the world. That doesn’t mean it is not without controversy. Some skeptics believe:

► “bossy” applies to both boys as well as girls…really how many boys have you called bossy?

►the campaign is detrimental to boys and stereotypes girls

►the idea is ideologically one dimensional and too simplistic


To be sure “Ban Bossy” does not apply to every girl but, it does remind lots of us that the fight for equality has moved from:

●the suffragette parades of the early 20th century

●to the feminist writings and manifestos of the 1960’s

●to video clips like “Here is where I…” video

But, the message is still the same; you can be whatever you want to be.

You go girl!


Kitty Pope                                                                                             #14 April 2014


It’s funny how times change …

Posted in on a + note by flickfancy on March 31, 2014

It’s funny how time and the years change our attitudes and beliefs.  Over the weekend I was looking at some terrible old photos and just for fun I started a list, which turned into a chart of ideas that have changed over the years. For example, when I was thirty, Friday evening was my favorite time of the week. But now, I think any day is great; I love Mondays because they are full of new challenges, Hump Day is always promising, and Saturday is great because anything can happen!

Your Favourite Day:
in your 30′s… friday evening
in your 40′s… saturday or sunday
in your 50′s… any day, they are all great

Your Favourite Meal:untitled3
in your 30′s… Christmas dinner
in your 40′s… any one that someone else makes
in your 50′s… when the whole family is at the table

The World is Driven By:
in your 30′s… trends and getting enough sleep
in your 40′s… the babysitter or janitor
in your 50′s… parking

Best Advice You Ever Received:
in your 30′s… “dance like there is no tomorrow”
in your 40′s… “it’s ok to say no”
in your 50′s… “don’t sweat the small stuff”

Preferred Exercise:
in your 30′s… mountain climbing Untitled4
in your 40′s… driving to the game
in your 50′s… walking the dog or with grandkids

Education Is:
in your 30′s… freedom
in your 40′s… freedom
in your 50′s… still freedom

Go-To Diet:
in your 30′s… “lose 100lbs in 100 days”
in your 40′s… Weight Watchers
in your 50′s… skip the donut

Favourite Foot Gear:
in your 30′s… trendy heels or flip flops
in your 40′s… runners
in your 50′s… loafers or boots. It’s all about comfort while still running

It’s Ok If You Don’t Like:Untitled5
in your 30′s… skinny jeans or Dr. Seuss
in your 40′s… skinny jeans or opera
in your 50′s… skinny jeans or grapefruit

Being a Librarian:
in your 30′s…  is awesome! who knew!
in your 40′s… rocks
in your 50′s… is still the best job in the free world!

Career Goals:
in your 30′s… stay out of trouble and learn lots
in your 40′s… not so afraid of trouble but keep learning
in your 50′s… embrace trouble and write about it!

What Surprised You Most About Library Work:
in your 30′s… it’s so much fun!
in your 40′s… it’s so political; did I learn that in library school?
in your 50′s… it’s still fun even if it’s political!

So how have your ideas changed over the years? I bet you’ll be surprised by your answers.

Have a great day.

Kitty Pope

kpope@library.guelph.on.ca                                                                        #13 March 2014

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