By Kristen Moore, RIPS-SIS Grant Recipient for AALL Management Institute
Thanks to a generous grant by the RIPS-SIS I was able to attend the AALL Management Institute in Chicago in April. This was an intensive few days with a lot of information shared and knowledge imparted, not only from the presenter but also my fellow attendees. One of the many lessons I took away from those few days was how to manage change within an organization.
The only thing that stays the same is everything changes. And, libraries are going through major changes now. Not everyone wants to change. However, we must adapt in order to evolve and survive. Employee resistance to change can be very exhausting and frustrating. But, there are things that we can do to make these changes easier for everyone, including ourselves.
First, communicate, communicate, communicate. Make sure everyone is aware of what is being done and why. The fear of the unknown is real. Make sure your staff knows what is happening. And, the why is probably the most important part. For people to go along with something, they need to know why it is necessary. You’ll also want to allow time for the idea of change to sink in. Initial resistance is natural. Don’t fight it. You’ll just exhaust yourself.
After you have communicated, listen. After giving staff time to think, allow them to vent. Let them know this is a dialogue, not a debate. Change is scary. And, fear is often the foundation of why people fight it. They may worry about problems that will arise. They may worry about losing part of their job. They may worry about no longer being seen as valued. Or conversely, they may worry that they won’t be able to handle the extra work. Let them tell you what they think and then try to clarify what is being done and ease those fears.
Next, engage your staff. Make sure they are an active part of the change. If they feel like they have input in the process, they will feel a little more in control of their future and be less fearful. They will feel of value. And, they will feel like they are making changes, rather than being changed.
Finally, commit to helping staff with the changes. If new skills need to be learned, provide professional development opportunities. Change isn’t easy. Allow for bumps and kinks to be worked out. Continue to communicate and solicit feedback. Let them know you understand and are there to help. Make sure you are as committed to the change as you expect them to be and let your actions reflect that.
Change can be tiring, scary, and frustrating. But, it can also be exciting. Stay open with your staff and let them be open with you. Involve them and be involved. And, hopefully, things will go much smoother.