Becoming a Manager……

So let me tell you about my experience of being promoted to a management position.

Just to be clear I have been manager to a small number of staff for over a year and still don’t feel confident in my abilities to inspire or lead.

The particular position I am in was created after a restructure, I won’t discuss the merits or disappointments of the restructure as that deserves a separate blog!

I had no previous management experience and was super excited to be given the opportunity to develop new skills and learn from experienced managers.  How wrong I was to be excited.  The only training or development I have had has been received from my direct manager who has what I would call an interesting management style.  I hoped for mentoring to develop my own style however I quickly learned what all middle level managers know to be true – you are there solely as a buffer between the plebs and the patricians.

Going into this I had a genuine desire to be a competent and respected manager.  Now all I require of my staff is that they don’t do anything to get noticed by the higher ups.  Being noticed is a very bad thing.

I’m not really sure what I’m actually allowed to do (and I have asked, believe me!) and every suggestion I’ve ever made for improvements or trying something new has been met with swift and brutal denial.

leslie-knope-no

And the one lesson I have learned from this experience; upper level managers don’t want you to question the status quo.

So far this is just a reflection of the day to day reality of my job, the special hatred of my management position is the dreaded performance review period.  Which I am so lucky to have three times a year plus monthly meetings with each of my staff.  How can I help my staff to achieve their goals if I struggle to understand what is expected of me?

I want to be able to say yes absolutely you can do that instead of oh let me just check with my manager and get back to you, maybe in about a month if you’re lucky.

I hope that there are people working in Libraries out there that have had a fantastic promotion experience with support and mentoring that meant they were able to grow into the type of manager that the Library industry desperately needs. Managers who are creative and forward thinking who want to encourage and inspire those who are interested in Libraries as a career.

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Disappointment

The Merriam-Webster definition of “disappoint” is “to make (someone) unhappy by not being as good as expected or by not doing something that was hoped for or expected”.

This perfectly describes my experiences in the library environment.  I started full of vim and vigor at a small branch library where I became disillusioned with the institution after two restructures in five years.

From here I moved into a much larger organisation where I discovered a rigid structure that felt impossible to navigate.

I am now entering my fifth year in this organisation and I have come to the end of my library adventure.  I continue to work here however I now am on the hunt for anything to take me away from what has become an endless drudge.

How did I come to this point you may ask.  Through a combination of the worst factors of incompetent bureaucracy and managerial indifference.

I am aware that no job is perfect and that fighting against every single decision that management makes is futile and frustrating.  Every employee must pick their battles otherwise you will burnout in any job.

I used to be a conscientious employee, proud to do a good job, now I have become a warm body in the workplace that does not give a fuck about clients or colleagues.  I have gradually come to this place after receiving no positive feedback from my manager and getting a completely average performance appraisal every year and seeing colleagues who were terrible at their job never suffer consequences for their poor performance.

I want to be that positive person again who is challenged by their job and is trusted to show good judgement when making a decision.  In other words I want to be a person again.