There were three people on this panel. Kathleen, Selma and Dale. Kathleen asked about who is already a supervisor, and most of the room raised hands.
Dale started speaking. Selma also introduced herself, and she supervises quite a few folks. Kathleen does HR for the Burlington County Library System.
Dale read the first scenario:
A staff member is habitually late but never takes his breaks. The library is getting more work out of him by doing this. Other staff members are complaining. What do you do?
Selma: She tries to be flexible with staff. If she is taken advantage of, she sets a hard line. For her, the public comes first. Does the person have a morning desk shift? Her strategy is to talk to the person and find out what is going on. If it is a desk shift, that really isn't negotiable. If the person has to drop off kids, that is tough, but still take in consideration for other people on the team. They would problem solve as a team. Someone might want a desk shift if they are up early. An employee once was chronically late, but this person kept pushing her. And disciplinary action can happen.
Also, look at your work policy.
Kathleen: She agrees. Talk to the employee. Make sure you are both on the same page. We can't assume people know. Talk to the person and see if a different start time could happen. Give them 3 months. This makes sure there is a goal set. Put the first conversation in writing.
Lateness is tough. If you have to constantly have a conversation, it's time to counsel and possibly reprimand. Some people might not think 9 am at the desk means "on the dot." But customers come to the library "on the dot."
Someone asked, what if someone shows up to the desk late and makes someone else late? Kathleen reiterated still talking to the person. You have to be firm and say "it's not negotiable" especially if you can't move the person to another shift. Selma agrees with this, as it negatively impacts another member of the team.
Instead of saying, "I have been told," say "I have observed."
Your employee has a daughter who plays soccer. This employee frequently asks other staff to cover her evening shifts. Other staff have, but are they getting fed up?
Kathleen: This employee is getting stuff covered, so that is fine. If we allow people to switch, there shouldn't be a problem.
Selma: She would observe people, but can you tell if they are bothered? She might privately take the person aside who is taking the shifts. If necessary, she will intervene. Do you try to problem solve? There should be a balance.
One of the librarians does not agree with the weeding policy. She checks out stuff to herself that otherwise would be discarded. Confronted, and says she is doing good.
Selma: She asks about policies during interviews. If something is passed that you don't like, how do you handle it? Directors are hired to make policies, and they have to be enforced even if you don't agree. Just because it's your opinion, doesn't mean it's ok to not be on board.
Kathleen: That person is being insubordinate. She has worked for three library systems. She was told that there is the right way, the wrong way and the library way. The library way will have 25 extra steps. We always try to find a solution to make everyone happy. No director sits in an office and says, "I'm going to weed these or I'm going to do this." Every decision comes with careful thinking. Insubordination is a choice, where you know you should've done something one way, and you CHOSE to do it another. That has a higher price.
A member of the public has taken a liking to a librarian and has engaged in a lot of chit chat. Staff are complaining that the librarian is spending too much time socializing.
Kathleen: You need to say to the person, is this bothering you? It's a hard call when it's a member of the public, and sometimes the member needs to be addressed. This is hard because we are "captured audiences." Librarians aren't leaving the library. Be conscience of young people or teens to work in your library, because they might not be able to address a member.
Selma: This could be sexual harassment, and that should be addressed. If the staff member is not comfortable, the member needs to know that the behavior won't be tolerated. You need to protect your employees. Employees also need to be available for other people to ask them questions, so one patron shouldn't be taking all of their time.
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