Posted October 2, 2008on:
Library Journal has an interesting article about what keeps Movers and Shakers motivated and happy. Somewhere else (I can’t remember where) Meredith points out that this is really relevant for all staff, not just the M&S’s.
Very true. In my experience in various jobs, there are at least a couple of people who tend to be the innovators with great ideas and fantastic drive to get things done. Sometimes these people have been really supported. Other times they haven’t been, and in those cases, they generally move on fairly quickly to somewhere where they will be supported.
Recognition (and recognition of recognition) is important. While it’s great to say that we should be motivated by internal satisfaction rather than external accolades, people do tend to get a charge out of that public recognition when they do something well or have a great idea. When you have administration that is aware of and shows pride in its employees, chances are you have a staff with high morale and a great work ethic. It makes a difference!
One of the things that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately goes along with the whole recognition thing. It involves knowing your employees and recognizing their unique talents and skills. Not everyone will be the most innovative or creative but that doesn’t diminish what they have to offer. Someone who likes and excels at something like authority control, for example, can have an important role and should be recognized and appreciated. I work with someone who wrote a grant to expand our ESOL collection and has since went on to present at conferences about how our collection has expanded (thanks in large part to her efforts) and how our library can help teachers around the state with the loans of materials. Maybe it doesn’t seem like a huge thing to some, but to the teachers in Kansas, this a fantastic resource. She has a talent and interest in this area and has offered something greater to the organization as a result.
Knowing your employees and recognizing their talents is one of the principles in the books The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. Sure, you might run into people who are jealous of others’ achievements. But I think this is a symptom of a larger organizational problem. If people feel valued and relevant, there is less of a chance for them to feel jealous of others. Jealousy is a sign of low morale and deeper issues.
So what do you do when the recognition isn’t there? I suggest modeling what you’d like to see yourself. Pay attention to what people let drop in casual conversation. We all have egos to some extent and will find a way to let people know when we’ve done something we’re proud of. When you hear something, find out more. You may not be a boss, but you can still send out an email to the library to let others know about a co-workers achievement. (You might want to ask if it’s okay first, but I doubt most people will say “no!”) Eventually your administration might start doing it as well. Even if they don’t, other staff might start reciprocating.
This leads into leading from the bottom. Which I’ll talk about some other time. I’ll say this though, we can still make small organizational changes even if we aren’t in administration. If you are unwilling to go with the status quo and are patient, you can be influential in ways you may not even have thought about.