How to empower staff in 2014
Empowering staff to do their very best work begins with the library board and CEO. It is as much process and procedure as it is attitude and role modeling. To empower staff you need to be personally empowering. But practically, how do you do that was the question I received from a reader several weeks ago.
Here are my best thoughts!
1. Start at the very beginning. Hire for attitude. Recruit people that project a positive attitude, these folks are usually hard workers and team players. Skills can be taught however, character and wanting to work with customers… not so much!
2. Surveys have shown repeatedly that employees want to make a difference, have the opportunity to learn and be included in decision making. So if that is what they need, open the door to these opportunities. Now I am not suggesting abdicating your responsibility as a supervisor, but if it encourages staff to do their very best work…why not?
3. Be accessible. The practice of an open door and being visible in the library connects you to customers and staff which in turn makes the library a better place to be and work. I bet we all know more than one CEO or supervisor who’s door is always closed and who never walk around the library.
4. Be a coach and a role model. To staff, a coach is a person who is trusted, interested in their wellbeing and helping them do the best job possible by opening the door to training and advancement. Coaching as opposed to directing staff brings out the very best in you both. Being a role model and putting into practice what you preach is very empowering to staff. Oh, and being a coach is truly one of the best parts of being a librarian!
5. Grow library leaders. A great way to engage and empower staff is to invest in strengthening their leadership skills. There are formal leadership learning opportunities but there are also great leadership learning experiences like: leading a project or task force, being on a hiring team, temporarily filling another position, or presenting a report to the board. Leadership is built on knowledge but also on experience. Make those opportunities to experience leadership happen; it is empowering for staff and you!
Hiring for attitude, being accessible, providing the tools to learn, being a coach and role model plus consciously growing leaders are truly effective ways to engage and empower staff.
I hope this begins to answer your question….and thanks, it’s an interesting topic.
Kitty Pope #5 February 2014