Today I attended just the most useful 1/2 day training event – thanks to Librarians in Training at Cambridge University, and Jessie Monck, Niamh Tumelty and Rose Giles.
The session covered a hugely wide range of management issues/challenges – any one of which could have taken the full 3 hours. The difference was that there were 2 case studies: Team Meetings by Rose, and Managing Change by Niamh. Both these sessions were packed with practical tools, techniques and tips, and throughout the session Jessie encouraged us to be noting down the actionable things that we could take back to try out.
The Engineering Library team, and Niamh as librarian, have faced significant changes over the last 2 years – lots of staff change, refurbishment, and huge hopes and expectations of the library service from the Engineering department. All good opportunities, and all presenting their own challenges.
(NB – see what I did, Jessie? I didn’t use “but” in that sentence!! – fellow attendees will know what I mean.)
What I got from Niamh’s session – apart from a sense of awe, were so many tips. I’m itching to start using “Office Timeline” – a gant chart creation tool for ppt. as well as making her slides look beautiful, I know I’m going to be finding this useful for planning the huge changes that the Medical Library is about to go through. This sort of tool will be old news to many, but it arrived at just the right time for me!
Both Niamh and Rose, and others in the group talked about Asana and Trello – I’ve come across Trello before, but not used it much – they’re both task manager tools that can allow groups to manage their time and their progress. Rose also presented a really cool physical manifestation of these tools – lots of post-its on a notice board, with different sections for “in progress”, “in planning”, “completed”. Simple, effective, and it works for their team when the online versions didn’t.
Communicating, listening and planning were the words of the day – all obvious stuff, but sometimes easy to get wrong and not do enough of. The balance between John Adair‘s triumvirate of task, team and individual need to be carefully manged to ensure that the task doesn’t swamp the team and/or the individual.
There were 2 sources of good reading that were recommend
- MBWA – Managing By Walking Around
- The five dysfunctions of a team and Overcoming the five dysfunctions of a team (both available as ebooks for Cambridge folk)- might become useful reading too.
Rose has worked hard with her team at the University Library Reader Services Desk to make their team meetings much more useful.
- She’s made a really simple change to her meeting agendas: as well as having “agenda item” and “proposer” listed on the agendas, there are columns for “Summary” and “suggested preparation”. Since agendas are shared 2 days ahead of each meeting, it allows all the team to come prepared, rather than spending time speculating/worrying about what any particular item was referring to. (so simple, so effective)
- on the team Christmas tree last year, each team member contributed one bauble with an achievement from the previous year, and one bauble with a plan/aspiration for the coming year.
- “super fast 8” – a quick way of coming up with ideas for any topic/task – and super creative.
A lot of these ideas aren’t new – but the opportunity to learn from the great colleagues that we have in Cambridge, and hearing about practical solutions/approaches is what made this session so good. There were so many opportunities for sharing good practice – perfect!