After all the frolics and hot discussion on the CILIP subscriptions issue, I thought I’d turn back to something more introspective. Or rather I did when I started writing this post 6 weeks ago. or was it 7. Yes a lot of books have floated by under the bridge (and that’s just in Cumbria) since then.
That said as you might have gathered from my various social networks I’ve recently moved into a new position. Two months today actually by my reckoning; although thanks to swine flu my entrance to the post was a delayed one. And the change? Well it’s been a bit of a shock to the system in some ways, and an absolute delight in others.
While I’ve functioned as a manager in all but name for many years in many different capacities, it was only at the start of this year that I actually got the title into part of my job. Now though this is my main role on a daily basis – and as I suspected it’s a very different kettle of fish to what I was doing previously. I’ve carried over some aspects of my previous post, the managerial bits, while leaving behind those elements of subject support that I used to do. But there’s also been a whole new portfolio of challenges awaiting for me; perhaps upper most among them the fact that now I’m one of THEM (be it only middle management THEM) and really no longer one of US.
I could write about how this has changed my perspectives of people I’ve known for a year or so, how my working relationships have utterly altered. Maybe I will in time, and heavens knows this blog could do with a bit more regular content. However, what I thought I’d write about is the change in my working life from a situation where, to be frank, I spent more days bored and looking around for something to do than doing something. And this isn’t a situation I like finding myself in – I’m generally only happy if I’m doing something – at home or at work – that engages me on different levels. Come to think of it I’m only really happy if I’m solving three crises at once, while trying to hold down a day job and making a pot of jam at the same time. And so it seems a move into management is just what I needed!
Why? Well those of you reading this with any kind of managerial responsibilities or experience will know that the shift from being responsible for your own work, to suddenly being responsible for many other people’s work is a big one. My early days in the post felt a lot like firefighting, and I kept stressing that I wasn’t getting my job done.
Then it struck me – firefighting and helping my team is (at least in part) my job now. There are of course things I do need to do myself, that no one but me is going to be able to do as well, and it’s taken quite some time to get to a position where I can spend time doing them. I can certainly say that no from the moment I walk through the door in the morning, to when I slink off at night, that my talents are pretty much fully engaged. It’s not just managing the staff and my own time, there’s the fact that I’m still learning so much of what my section does for the library. There are moments when I think I’ll never know it all. Maybe I won’t, but I do need to understand how, why and what the team does. Otherwise how can I make an objective judgement when someone brings me a problem? How can I advise my bosses on the situations and developments that pervade the environment my team works in? I need to develop this understanding, and so it’s one more part of my day being occupied.
So bored? Fat chance! Every day brings a new challenge, some new insight into an activity. I honestly don’t think I’ve been asked the same question twice in two months – be it from a reader, a team member or a colleague from another section. I thrive on this challenge, which does give me a slight pause when I think about the future. Will there ever come a time when I feel comfortable in the role, where everything is natural, almost runs itself? If it does, chances are thats when ennui will set in again – but have no fear, that’s the point at which I’ll start casting my eye around for something even more difficult to do…