CILIP Leadership programme

What Creates Inclusive, Networked, and Collective Leadership?
‘What Creates Inclusive, Networked, and Collective Leadership?’ c/o Eugene Kim

I am delighted to be taking part in the inaugral CILIP Leadership Programme! The programme is designed for mid-career library and information professionals with some experience of leadership. The idea behind the programme is not just to develop leadership skills for individual development, but to create leadership within the profession. I plan to blog throughout the programme because I think that will be useful information for others considering taking part, as well as providing valuable feedback and awareness raising for CILIP.

The programme is mainly delivered online using CILIP’s Virtual Learning Environment, but includes four face-to-face training days. I am fortunate to have received funding for the £250 programme fee from the CILIP London Regional Member Network through their small grants scheme (funded by the Library Trust). My employers have agreed to give me time off to attend the face-to-face training days. I still have to find the money to cover the costs of travelling and subsistence when attending face-to-face training (although CILIP provide lunch), but I’m lucky that one of the four days will be in London where I live.

I applied to join the programme because I am interested in expanding the experience I currently have of leading project teams at work and other professional activities. I work in a technical role without managerial responsibilities, I do not specifically aspire to a management position, but I do want to be a leader at work and within the profession. At my workplace there is a leadership and management programme, but I cannot access it as I am not a line manager. Leadership is often conflated with management, so through taking part in the progamme I would like to encourage others who are not in managerial posts to develop leadership skills and become leaders. I want to develop leadership skills that I can implement in my workplace when leading project teams, in client meetings and in discussions around project design. I also am in the early stages of undertaking my CILIP Fellowship and feel that taking part in this programme will help me to develop leadership and innovation skills to enable me to make a significant contribution to the profession and achieve Fellow status.

The programme will provide me with a solid theoretical underpinning, but also the opportunity to apply that theory, which will make it all the more useful and applicable to the real-world. For example, learning the theory of different leadership styles, complemented by a practical element of assessing the appropriateness of these leadership styles to different situations. The programme includes a group project component which will provide me with an opportunity to implement my leadership skills to the benefit of a CILIP Member Network or Special Interest Group. The project I will be working on is to help Member Networks and Special Interest Groups to develop equality and diversity strategies. I feel this will be of real value to the profession as equality and diversity are widely acknowledged as issues within the profession. This project will help CILIP to enable all of its users to engage with and benefit from its branches/groups’ offerings. I hope that this may contribute to enabling people from all backgrounds to develop and themselves and contribute to the profession.

I am undertaking the leadership programme as part of my Fellowship so I will use the skills I have gained through the process of Fellowship and taking part in the leadership programme to act as a leader within my profession. In particular I would like to encourage more women to position themselves as leaders, as I feel that there is sometimes a lack of professional confidence amongst women in the profession. I will do so through being a CILIP Chartership Mentor, but will also explore other routes to encourage and facilitate more women within the profession becoming leaders and building their professional confidence.

So I am hoping that taking part in the programme will benefit me as I will develop leadership skills, but ultimately I aim to use these skills to the benefit of CILIP and my profession.

[Edit: one of the face-to-face days is confirmed as being in London]

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Responding to appraisal feedback

The Turning Head

The 360 degree appraisal method involves your manager seeking feedback from a number of individuals who work with you. Ideally feedback should be drawn from a range of people, not just direct colleagues, such as senior staff and customers.

In this blog post I am going to discuss how I have seen this process work in practice and how I have used this feedback to aid my professional development.

The 360 degrees appraisals I have been involved with have tended to focus on feedback from colleagues as not all staff members have direct client/customer relations in their role, so including it could inadvertently introduce unfairness in the process. However, informal client/customer feedback was incorporated where available.

To gather feedback you can design a questionnaire or you can simply ask for a few things that the person does well and three things that they might want to consider doing differently or improving on. The latter is the approach I have experience of.

The benefits of getting such feedback from colleagues includes:

  • balance of positive and negative feedback – in an appraisal it is important to recognise what someone does well, whilst providing suggestions for improvement – although I am not an advocate of the positive-negative sandwich technique
  • greater objectivity – not just your manager’s opinions
  • more representative – your appraisal is not based solely on your manager’s perception of your work, this is especially important if you work on projects which your manager does not have direct involvement with
  • constructive criticism – the phrasing of the question encourages those feeding back to offer solutions rather than simply criticising

The potential disadvantages of 360 feedback:

  • looking for criticism – 360 could be seen as encouraging colleagues to look for things to criticise, if carefully worded then it need not be, especially where an emphasis is placed on making constructive comments
  • support – people respond differently to feedback so it is important to support them, especially where negative feedback is concerned. Managers should read through all feedback ahead of the appraisal to ensure that they understand it and that they have considered practical ways in which the individual can address this feedback

Creative CPD – Library Camp London session

At the recent Library Camp in London (#libcampldn) I ran a session on Creative Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Training and development budgets are contracting in all organisations and sectors. Traditionally, courses were a primary source of CPD. So the challenge is: how do we continue to develop when we can’t attend formal courses?

Pitching this session at Library Camp, I knew I was somewhat preaching to the converted (people who were coming to an unconference in their own time), but was very surprised by the turnout of nearly 30 people. The large group was split in to three more manageable groups. This was a lightly facilitated session, it was designed to bring together likeminded people to share ideas and experiences.

Creative ways to do CPD:

  • Library visits and tours
    Groups suggested going on formal, organised library visits, but also encouraged being proactive by contacting libraries to ask for tours.
    Erasmus grants provide opportunities to visit or work abroad whilst enrolled on a Higher Education course.
  • Job shadowing
    This can be done formally, for example as part of your development plan or you could try running a Do something different day, which Cardiff University Library Service uses to give staff the opportunity to learn more about others’ work.
    There are also informal methods available, why not approach a colleague (within your organisation or outside of it) to talk about their job and share experiences?
  • Professional organisations
    Join organisations such as CILIP, SLA, BIALL, ALA – all provide development opportunities through courses (though not all free!), committee activity, bursaries for attending conferences, job boards and networking opportunities.
  • Professional networks
    Join a committee such as one of the CILIP branches or special interest groups.
    Many local professional networks offer free training such as Cardiff libraries in operation (CLIC), South Coast Universities, CPD25.
    Mailing lists (www.jiscmail.ac.uk/ or www.mailtalk.com/) are a great way to get involved in professional conversations, for current awareness, discussing best practice and hearing about CPD opportunities.
    If a suitable local network doesn’t exist – why not build one? CILIP Chartership candidates have used the Twitter #chartership hashtag and the LIS-CILIP-REG@JISCMAIL.AC.UK to meet up with others in their area and share ideas.
    Networking was generally highlighted as a good way to develop professionally.
  • Reading professional literature
    Blogs
    Use Twitter, RSS feeds and Reference Management programmes such as Mendeley to help you keep up to date with the literature
  • Training
    Internal
    Many organisations offer in-house training, explore these fully and don’t restrict yourself to the obvious courses.
    Away days – many larger organisations run away days for the entire library team (e.g. Imperial College London, Cambridge University Libraries) or for specific team member (such as library managers). These are especially valuable if staff are dispersed as it allows for sharing of information and best practice, as well as raising awareness of others’ work. It doesn’t have to be expensive (or a whole day!) you could hire a meeting room in your organisation and get the whole or part of the team (e.g. the library assistants) together – maybe your work will pay for some lunch (or biscuits at least!)
    Organise an hour’s training session where you or a colleague presents on a recent project, a topic you’re passionate about or a tool you find useful. This is useful knowledge exchange for the team, as well as a good opportunity for presenting and learning.
    External
    Miniconferences – I presented at a half-day workshop/miniconference on using RSS (Feeding Time: using RSS to collect and share information) about Delicious, everyone speaking on the day was a member of CHILL and it wasn’t about being an expert on a particular technology, but sharing how you had successfully used it.
    Speak at or help organise conferences/events – this can provide opportunities to attend conferences or events you might otherwise not be able to, it also provides opportunities to develop your presentation skills, build connections, helps raise your professional profile and get experience of organising events.
    Providing training for others – volunteer to provide training to your colleagues or local network/group if they run peer-to-peer training.
    Online courses – Webinars (e.g. some database providers, such as Wiley, offer free webinars), CPD23, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Coursera.
    Free events like Library Camp or Teachmeets – if there isn’t one happening in your local area, make it happen!
    Open University courses – although these do incur a charge, as far as I know.
    CILIP New Professionals Day – provides opportunities either by attending and presenting (or both!)
  • Gaining management experience
    Volunteering for committees and organising events can be a good way to gain management experience.
    Project management can provide you with transferrable skills for management.
    Provide training for others such as work experience students or new staff.

Challenges

A theme that came up in the different groups, concerned appraisals and 1-2-1s with your manager. Some people weren’t getting regular 1-2-1s with their manager or having meaningful appraisals that led to actual action. 1-2-1s are essential in providing a forum for you to raise any issues you may be having at work and also to ensure you are developing. I am lucky to have a manager who is very committed to CPD, when we have our regular 1-2-1s I take my table of objectives for the appraisal period to ensure that I have activity across all of my objectives and will meet them by my next appraisal. My blog post on Getting the most out of your appraisal may provide some useful tips on this.

There were also some solo librarians who described the challenge of having a manager who’s not a librarian, so perhaps doesn’t understand how your development can and should take place. Convincing your organisation can also be a challenge if you are a solo librarian for the same reason. The groups suggested tapping in to local networks for support and to help you to think beyond your immediate organisation.

Solutions

The groups recommended taking a proactive role in deciding how to do your CPD and finding solutions to challenges you may face, the approach of bottom-up education of management was suggested, afterall if you don’t make the case for your CPD who will? Keeping your vision was felt to be important, focusing on what you want to achieve will help you to convince others of the value of your development activities. Others suggested taking control, for example by writing your own job description if you feel it isn’t an accurate reflection of your work.

Above all, it is necessary to seize the moment and any opportunities that come your way – keep active!

Thank you to everyone who attended the session for their enthusiastic contributions.

Blog write-ups of this and other Library Camp London sessions are available here.

Library Camp London

Last Saturday I attended my first ever Library Camp (#libcampldn), at Senate House Library in London. I was drawn to library camp because of its democratic philosopy – anyone can pitch a session, attendees vote with their feet and can leave a session at any time.

Sessions:

  • Creative CPD, Me!
    This was a session I put on the wiki at the last minute, but the idea had been floating around for a long time. While I was doing my Chartership, my attitude to continuing professional development changed, I started to see opportunities in new places. I am going to write a blog post on the session soon, including the notes from the smaller break-out groups’ discussions. Thanks to everyone who came!
  • I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords…: technology, digital libraries, and the future of librarianship, Simon Barron (@SimonXIX)
    Simon’s session began with a short talk, which outlined the background to his talk (he has also written an introductory blog post). Then we broke in to smaller groups and were assigned discussion topics on a shared Google Doc, my group discussed digital information and information overload. All of us deal with digital information in one form or another and many of us commented that one of the challenges of digital information was that librarians and publishers were often applying the principles of print to digital information.
    As well as an engaging topic, Simon was an exemplary facilitator. He reminded everyone of the Twitter hashtag for the day at the start of the session and encouraged us to tweet. He had also prepared a shared Google Doc for the break-out groups to work on in real-time during our discussions, this helped groups to structure our discussions. Simon then brought the groups together for a final round up which, though brief, was very interesting.
  • Library assistants session, Cathryn (@cathrynlol)
    This session was aimed at anyone interested in the role of library assistants. As there was a large group we were broken up in to smaller discussion groups. Mine was a blend of library assistants, former library assistants and people managing library assistants. We spent a lot of time discussing how to balance providing development opportunities and diverse work for library assistants, with not burdening them with work that was really the responsibility of others. I can’t say we solved the problem, but I came away from it with a greater awareness of how to manage staff development and workload.
  • The Sweary Session, Richard Veevers (@RichardVeevers)
    Richard works in a public library and has, like most of us attending the session, been sworn at whilst at work. In this session we shared our experiences of having been verbally abused and how we had dealt with it at the time. One of the hotly debated aspects was around getting back-up from managers. Some had experiences occasions where managers had resolved a situation by giving the user what they wanted, which staff felt undermined them and might send the message to users that if they cause enough of a scene they will get what they want, regardless of the rules. We also discussed that sometimes getting a colleague involved and having a “change of face” was helpful, even if that person was not a manager, because once people have started being rude they may not feel able to back down.
  • Librarians and personality, Rosie Hare (@rosiehare) and Andrew Preater (@preater)
    After an ice-breaker, which was disappointingly uncringeworthy(!), we were broken in to smaller discussion groups. With one side of the room discussing the personality traits that non-librarians would expect of one, and the other side of the room discussing the personality traits actually required for library work. We then reconvened as a larger group to discuss these points. We heard practical examples of how Myers Briggs personality traits can be used to articulate one’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as getting the most out of a team – for example by not giving a “big picture” person something that requires a lot of detail. However, it was still seen as important that people operate outside of their comfort zone sometimes to encourage them to develop. We never settled on how true to life the stereotypical traits ever were, but there was discussion that the variety of roles within LIS work meant that there couldn’t be a homogenous personality type in the profession. The most important thing I took away from the discussion and the test itself was around self-awareness, in terms of thinking about how my personality traits can impact on others and to be aware of the preferences of others in the workplace.

Library camp was not only invigorating, but also liberating. All too often we get fixated on the idea of CPD in order to develop within our current role, essentially to get “better” at our current job. However, Library camp being free, and on a Saturday, meant that the day was solely for me as a professional. I didn’t have to make a case to attend, so I could choose sessions based on my interests rather than ensuring relevance to my role. I wouldn’t have to feed back to my team on what I learned and how I could apply it to my work to demonstrate that it was worthwhile.  But everyone who’s asked me at work if it was worthwhile, I have replied with a resounding “yes”!

Getting the most out of your appraisal

Last year I undertook my CILIP Chartership and it led me to reflect on my continuing professional development (CPD): what I do, how I do it, why I do it, etc. Going through the Chartership process made me think about my development in a more focused and holistic way (at first glance, yes that is paradoxical). Previously I had set appraisal goals that were essentially “be better at my job and take on some new tasks”, but I began to think about the wider portfolio of skills and experience I wanted to build up to develop as a professional rather than simply develop within my current role.

The first thing I did was to align my Chartership Personal and Professional Development Plan (PPDP) objectives with those of my annual appraisal. This seemed sensible as I might otherwise have had two sets of competing objectives which would have increased the risk that I wouldn’t meet them. After completing Chartership, I wanted to maintain my CPD momentum and good practice outside of the structure and incentive of MCLIP. So, when I recently had my annual appraisal, I tried to ensure that I got the most out of my appraisal and didn’t slip back in to bad habits by using some simple techniques.

Be SMART – this may seem very obvious, but this greatly increases the likelihood of you achieving your objectives.

  • Specific – if you can’t specify exactly what your objective is, how will you know you’ve achieved it? If it isn’t specific, will it be measurable or achievable? That’s not to say that your objectives need to be small, but they need to be specific.
  • Measurable –  how will you know if you’ve achieved your objective if you have no way of measuring it? Some goals you can easily measure e.g. getting faster a completing a task. Whereas some are not quantifiable and this is where you need to be creative, you could try having feelings as your measure e.g. feel more confident when giving presentations.
  • Achievable – this is dependent on all of the other elements, it is well-placed within the
  • Realistic – again, this is dependent on other elements, but it is also motivational because meeting/exceeding objectives gives you a sense of achievement and a feeling of progress – if you set unrealistic objectives you must be prepared for the disappointment of not meeting them and that you may waste effort you could have better used elsewhere
  • Timebound – this doesn’t necessarily mean that you set a strict time period in which to achieve this goal, but it can be helpful to give you focus and ensure that objectives don’t fester on your objectives list, being renewed each time without any action or progress.

Set interesting objectives – this is about you developing as a professional, not just getting better or faster at what you currently do. Tina Reynolds wrote a blog post about using CILIP’s Professional Knowledge and Skills Base to identify gaps in your professional knowledge or experience, which I found a very useful exercise. Taking a broader viewpoint enables you to think more creatively about your objectives, rather than essentially having parts of your job description as objectives. Purely role-related objectives can also risk becoming stale and meaningless, this can be a dynamic and invigorating process!

Having active appraisal documents – your workplace may have templates for use in your formal appraisal, but if you create a table of objectives containing your SMART elements, you can regularly update it and ensure that it works for you. I take my table of objectives along to every 1-2-1 I have with my line manager so I can track my progress and ensure that I am achieving against all of my objectives. Your formal appraisal only happens once a year, but your development is on-going. Below is an extract from my Chartership Personal and Professional Development plan, showing how the document was used to record planned and actual activities:

Objectives table

Actively documenting your progress doesn’t need to be onerous, even just keeping a record of what training sessions you’ve attended is a good idea. Jo Alcock wrote a blog post on using a Google form to record Chartership evidence, I use a simplified version to record activities towards my appraisal objectives.

Recording my activities using the above table enabled me to do a self evaluation of my progress against my objectives, which I used as Chartership evidence and in my annual appraisal. Because I had the information to hand, the process was not time-consuming:

self evaluation

This template (adapted from a few examples listed under resources) enabled me to evaluate my personal performance, but also to reflect on and represent the contribution that achieving my objectives had made to my organisation. Although I have emphasised that it is important to develop as a professional beyond your current role, it is also important to demonstrate how your development benefits your employers – especially if you want to apply for a pay rise or a regrading of your job.

Resources:

Resurrecting my blog

I have considered blogging properly for some time but have had some reservations, namely:

  • what I would write about?
  • who would care what I have to say?
  • what unique perspective would I offer that is worth publishing?

Also, having seen the time and effort that some bloggers I really admire put in to posts, I worried that I would not keep it up.

In the spirit of the new year and resolutions, I am going to start blogging. I think I will take a NANOWRIMO type approach and try to blog every month, even if it is just something quite short. If any more experienced bloggers have any top tips they’d like to share, I’d love to hear them.

NHS Choices on Youtube

NHS Choices is using youtube as a tool to get out information to the public on a variety of topics. In an age where information is so pervasive yet there is often little way to distinguish reliable from unreliable sources (certainly for many members of the public) it is a great way to get information to people who need it.

Here’s the latest video: