Tips for Inexperienced
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
How to Supervise Experienced Staff
By Jennifer Honeycutt (Hughes) email@example.com
TIPS FOR INEXPERIENCED MANAGERS
Treat Employees Like Bosses
Treat Bosses Like Employees
Build Better Employees
Build Better Teams
Learn from Mistakes
Have Leadership Tested
The gap is widening between the demand for professional librarians
and the supply of people in the
field. There are a few reasons for the abundance of available library
positions including: high
retirement rates, low wages, poor recruitment, and more professional alternatives
for librarians in
non-traditional environments (Lifer). Because of the shortage
of qualified job applicants, many
library employers are promoting or hiring librarians that do not have
substantive experience for
library management positions. Furthermore, these inexperienced
library managers have not
received adequate management and leadership training.
Although M.L.S. programs offer numerous courses
related to cataloging and reference, M.L.S.
programs typically offer only one or two management courses.
The management courses do not
provide a comprehensive study of management issues, therefore, library
managers must often times
learn from trial and error after being thrust into the management
environment (Weaver and Burger).
It typically takes managers a year or longer to begin to appreciate
all the elements of the
management role, and although subordinates are usually supportive
during the first few weeks, the
new manager’s authority will soon be questioned (Graham; Glen).
This chapter provides advice for new, inexperienced
managers who supervise experienced staff.
These tips have been compiled using numerous sources to help prepare
TIPS FOR INEXPERIENCED MANAGERS
The inexperienced manager should show some respect
and appreciation for the past
achievements of the experienced employees. Remember that the
staff members have
contributed to the successful completion of many tasks before you
supervisor. A manager should value the experiences and knowledge of
Although a certain amount of authority is inherent in the manager’s
job, respect must
be earned. One of the most effective ways for a manager to gain
subordinates is for the manager to show respect to the subordinates.
It is a good idea
for the new manager to remember that the balance of power will change
subordinates may be the supervisors someday. (Wendleton;
The young and the old)
TREAT EMPLOYEES LIKE BOSSES:
As the new manager, it is not necessary to make
a big deal about being "the boss,"
however it is crucial to demonstrate that, as the boss, a positive
difference is being
created. One approach is for the manager to act as if employees are
example, managers should report to the staff frequently about work
thought processes to the staff and ask the staff for input on ways
environment and performance can be improved. It is the manager’s responsibility
to provide the staff with the equipment, facilities, time, and other
resources needed to
increase job productivity and satisfaction. The manager should should
strive to work
for the employees, not over the employees. (Sowards; Reh, F.J.)
TREAT BOSSES LIKE EMPLOYEES:
A manager’s primary duty is to assist upper level
management. As a new manager, it
is important to schedule times to meet with the library director to
give information and
receive guidance. Keep the director updated on the progress of
goals, plans, and problems, to ensure that the director will not be
taken by surprise or
embarrassed publicly regarding library issues. Also meet with the
director to receive
guidance, training, and information about library-wide developments.
and honest with the director; discuss what works and what needs improving.(Sowards;
BUILD BETTER EMPLOYEES:
Managers should help all staff members grow by
aiding in the development of
additional skills and increased levels of responsibility regardless
of the employee’s
age or experience level. It is also important to remember that
although much of a
manager’s time is consumed by budget, patron, and personnel problems,
employees should not be taken for granted or unexpected problems will
BUILD BETTER TEAMS:
Employees are what make or break the quest of becoming
a good manager; so a great
amount of attention and time should be spent getting to know the
employees. After all,
anything anyone in the department does, or doesn’t do, reflects
on the supervisor, and
the manager must be prepared to accept this responsibility.
Teams should be
comprised of people with diverse backgrounds in order to be successful
productive. When each staff member’s input and ideas are respected,
of the team will become a true asset. If staff is included in
the planning stage of
projects, and are able to provide input from the beginning, the project
will be better
received, organized and executed. It is far better to seek advice
and volunteers for
projects than to commit someone else’s time to a project because the
staff will know
what needs to be done and why. The manager’s job is to
supervise employees, not
outdo or attempt to own the employees. The manager’s personal
abilities should not
limit the department’s accomplishments because the library is staffed
with many highly
qualified and experienced workers. Be grateful for and take advantage
of the skills
each staff member possesses (Reh, F.J.; Maynard; Sowards).
It is important for inexperienced managers to understand
the difference between
"different" and "wrong". When staff completes tasks in a way
that deviates from the
manager’s preference, it may not necessarily be incorrect. It
is important for new
managers to recognize the diverse social and work experiences of the
Knowing these personal and professional values will allow the manager
more meaningful management techniques. As library organizations become
complex, it is important for librarians to know the strengths and weaknesses
each staff member in order to manage library operations more effectively.
manager should find ways to bring together the best contributions that
has to offer. As the new manager, it is important to realize
existing staff members
will have more experience in some areas, and instead of competing with
the manager should strive to enhance the department. (Reh,
Cooper and Cooper)
In today’s technologically advanced work environment,
there are a variety of
communication methods available for managers and staff to keep connected
meetings, phone calls, electronic mail and memos. It is important
for managers to
realize that other people in the organization are relying on and waiting
Managers should read mail, return telephone calls, reply to email messages,
submit paperwork on time. It is better to admit not knowing the
answer than to
neglect the request all together (Sowards). To avoid making unnecessary
new managers should ask for input, listen to advice and concerns from
employees, and take advantage of the available talents. As a
manager, it is imperative
to listen to staff members, keep promises, and give credit where
credit is due.
(Sowards; Reh, F.J.;Wendleton)
It is important for new managers to remember to
"praise in public, bash in private." It
is the manager’s responsibility to inform the entire library about
the accomplishments of
the department so the staff may receive recognition and merit.
are shared throughout the library, all managers are able to learn
from the experiences.
One of the most important skills for a new manager
to learn is the art of delegation.
Delegation occurs when the supervisor gives subordinates the responsibility
authority to complete a task. Not only does delegation help
the manager to become
more productive and focused on essential tasks, but it also allows
grow and develop leadership skills. Experienced staff members
need to be
challenged, so the new manager should delegate without fear of losing
authority. When delegating, it is important for the manager to
find the right person for
the task, provide thorough instruction, and conduct follow-up.
LEARN FROM MISTAKES:
As a new supervisor, new skills will have to be
learned. Unfortunately, while one is
learning, mistakes are inevitable. Managers are human and will
make an occasional
mistake or two; the dose of humility helps managers value the employees’
One of the most complicated skills for an inexperienced
manager to learn is how to
solve problems. When problems arise it is ultimately the manager’s
determine and implement the best solution. Although some problems
immediate attention, many allow time for light to shed on the situation.
apparent problem is not the real, underlying problem, so it is
important to observe,
gather information and reflect before taking problem-solving actions.
remember that the experienced staff may be able to provide valuable
HAVE LEADERSHIP TESTED:
Subordinates will question the authority of the
new manager and test the leadership of
the manager’s least confident area. The staff member will complain
about the new
manager in many ways including, the boss being too young, too old,
not experienced enough, or any number of other trivial reasons.
should not dwell on the differences, lower personal standards,
or alter performance
expectations. The manager must remember who the upper level
appointed to this leadership position (Graham.)
Although this chapter is not intended to provide a comprehensive look
at library management, it is
hoped that inexperienced managers will be able to avoid some common
mistakes when dealing with
experienced staff. It is important to remember that supervising
library staff is just one of many
managerial duties performed by librarians. In addition, library
managers are responsible for
preparing budgets, fundraising, public relations, contract negotiations,
grant writing, and library
planning. Because most M.L.S programs do not adequately prepare
students to become library
managers, it is important for librarians to research management issues
further. Furthermore, library
managers must also keep abreast of the rapidly changing library environment.
continues to become a more essential aspect of library service, managers
will need to rely on the
experience of all library staff members. Managers must have
good relationships with staff members
from all generations, in order to successfully meet the needs of the
library users. The citations
included in the bibliography and further reading sections provide
excellent sources for library
Cooper, Julie and Eric Cooper. "Generational Dynamics and Librarianship:
managing Generation X"
Managing Generation X. www.lib.niu.edu/ipo/i1980228.html 15 Mar 2004.
Glen, Paul "Becoming a Manager" http://www.c2-consulting.com/Pages/article_110.htm
Graham, Gerald. "All new leaders face problems when the honeymoon
is over" Wichita Business
Journal May 15, 2000 17 March 2004.
Irvin, Candace. www.candaceirvin.com/part4.html 11/17/2002. March
Lifer, Evan. "The Boomer Brain Drain: The last of a generation"
Library Journal May 2000 v 125 i8
Maynard, Roberta. "Managing employees older than yourself" Nation’s
business. Sept. 1995
v83 n9 p12 infotrac.
Ong, Richard. "10 Tips to Effective Delegation." www.paap.com.cn/resource/newsletter8/NL-8.htm
Reh, F.J.. "Top 10 New Manager Mistakes"
Sowards, Steven W. "Observations of a first-year middle manager; Thirteen
tips for new middle
managers" C&RL News, July/August 1999 vol 60 no 7.
Weaver, Barbara and Leslie Burger. "Library Leaders for the 1990s"
Wilson Library Bulletin Dec 1991 35-37.
Wendleton, Kate. "Younger Bosses Older Workers." The Five o’Clock
www.fiveoclockclub.com/articles/1998/12-98-younger.html 15 Mar 2004.
The Young and the Old The Hindu Opportunities www.hinduonnet.com/jobs/0304/05230101.htm
April 23, 2003 15 Mar 2004.
Broderick, Dorothy. "Turning library into a dirty word: a rant" Library
Journal July 1997 V117 no 12 p42-44
Howard, Greg. "The care and feeding of the younger manager." TriNet
September 2001 15 Mar
Lancaster, Lynne. "The Click and Clash of Generations." Library
Journal 10/15/2003 www.library
journal.com 15 Mar 2004
Urgo, Marisa. "No Slackers here! SLA’s youngest
members have the vision and enthusiasm to shape
the future of the profession." Information Outlook April 1998 v2 n4 p
Vallandigham, Christopher. "Propagating the Species: Will Librarians
Go the Way of the Dodo Bird?"
AALL Spectrum V7 no 5 Feb 2003