OLA Superconference 2012: Top Ten Management Tips

Wendy Hicks of Stratford Public Library created and moderated a session with an incredible mix of seasoned managers offering their top ten tips to be an effective manager.  Although they didn’t say it, I heard the overall message as “Keep in touch.”

1. Keep in touch with the front line:
Know what front line staff knows. Go on the front line occasionally to find out what the customers are thinking, and what staff is experiencing.

2.  Keep in touch with yourself:
Govern your temper, put everything in perspective, and be the calm centre of any storm.  Be in control of yourself.
3. Keep in touch with staff:
Be respectful of staff, and that respect will then be reciprocated. Acknowledge and highlight the work someone does well. Don’t just point out flaws. While it’s important to make sure staff knows what they can improve, it’s important that they know what they have done well.

4. Keep in touch with the golden rule:
Give 100% of the credit to everyone else when a project has gone well. Heap praise on them. Be front and centre when criticism comes your way. Project your people. Take the burden of blame. Build trust, show you have their back and people will do their best for you.

5. Keep in touch with the culture:
Keep your style flexible to reflect the style needed in any given environment.

6. Keep in touch with opportunities:
Look for opportunities to guide people. Don’t try to control. Identify people’s strengths, compliment their strengths, and seek ways to let them use their strengths to move forward.
7. Keep in touch with failure:
Failure is a part of learning. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying anything new. There are very few mistakes that can’t be corrected – in some way.

8. Keep in touch with who reports where:
You need a clear reporting org chart. Dotted lines are a recipe for trouble. You need a clear structure. People need to know who’s in charge, what they are supposed to do, and where the buck stops.

9.  Keep in touch with the context and strategy:
You need time during the day to think – just think. Not surfing the Internet. That’s how you outsmart the competition. That’s how you move forward in the direction you want to go.

10.  Keep in touch with influencers:
It’s important to be an efficient advocate, developing relationships constantly. Whoever you work for you are in the business of the larger organization. For example, if you are the chief librarian of Toronto Public Library, you work for the City of Toronto; if you are in a university, you work for the university. Know the influencers of the larger organization and ensure they know you.

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