Sometimes as the Director, I feel out of the loop. There are days when I walk around and ask employees, "Is there anything I can do to help you?" Sometimes, they actually take advantage of it. Last week, for example, my assistant Becca asked me (after I harassed her for about 5 minutes) to go to the grocery store for ice cream sundae toppings. I remember back when I wasn't the director that I felt like I would never complete my to-do list. I know that sometimes employees feel that way - with good reason - and I swoop in and try to help. Sometimes it works and other times I think I make the situation worse. But I've worked under Directors that wouldn't ever get hands-on and it was always such a disappointment.
The Program Team at the library has been trying to keep their head above water. Discover Earth and Summer Reading leave many of them dragging themselves out to their car after work. I feel for them. I try to make them go home early, but they won't. Sometimes, I tell them they're not allowed to come into work the following day - not a day off that counts against their vacation or personal time - just a day that they deserve. I know that some of them have their 40 hours in by Wednesday evening. My new tactic is to REQUIRE them to work at home at least 1 hour per week. During that time, they aren't allowed to do catch-up work. It is a time for exploration.
I've also decided to begin Black Outs next year so that there will be no programming whatsoever for 10 days. During this time, team members can catch up on outstanding to-dos, but it will also be a time for trying to plan things without the constant interruptions. I know how this works...I'm in the same situation.
I don't want to see anyone burn out. The Program Team is a unique experiment in collaboration and it works well. There aren't any supervisors, everyone is welcome to do whatever they'd like. There is practically no oversight at all - except when it comes to money. If I were to work in any situation, it would be in one like this.
Once upon a time, we didn't even have program team meetings. That's had to change on occasion because now there are so many of us - but our meetings really are a way to inform each other. I doubt there is ever a time when we are all in the same room together with the exception of these meetings. We don't waste time. (See all my past posts about how much time is wasted in meetings.) I also enjoy (maybe a little too much) sending out random questionnaires about how things are going and what I can do to help them.
In the end, this collaborative concept happened. Nobody forced it down their throats. I certainly encouraged it, but you can't tell people how to collaborate. Either they can or they can't. Either they are open to sharing the workload or they are territorial and do not want to share. People with the latter mindset would not even get a job at the library to begin with. We're all about culture.
The next item on my agenda for today is finished the Program Team competencies. These are not something we'll be testing, it is a primer on excellent collaboration and the roles of Program Team members. It will be different from the Technical Competencies we've been carrying out for the past few years. These competencies are about exploration, play and learning how to take advantage of the strengths of team members. This is, once again, something that I haven't been able to find anywhere else so I have to create it. If anyone is interested in having their Program Team participate, let me know!