Card Catalogs, Dewey Decimals and Your Workplace

You know why parties don’t pop off at libraries? Because they don’t want them to. Libraries are the epitome of non-fun, and it’s by design. When patrons go, it’s to be productive, learn and to leave. Nothing notable happens. There is no retention strategy. There are no incentives. It is what it is and those that manage the library are perfectly ok with that.

Now unless you work for a library, your workplace should not resemble one. While you want your employees to learn, produce and repeat (like the library patrons), you want and need them to come back…to WANT to come back. There is a need for employees to halfway enjoy themselves so that you’re not spinning your wheels and spending all of your money to replace them.

One truth I had to come to terms with is that employees can love what they do and not where they’re doing it. Their passion for the profession only produces positive results for so long before the pisstivity of working at an uninspiring organization takes over. It starts to outweigh it. It makes employees question whether or not they want to switch careers or if they just need to switch venues.

Enjoying the work environment doesn’t always have to include incentives, competition and flexibility. While we focus on how we can make it fun, sometimes we just need to make sure it doesn’t suck. So how can you un-library your workplace? I’m glad you asked.

Update Your Cataloging System

When I was in school, I had to thumb through thousands of alphabetically organized index cards to find the general vicinity of the book I wanted. The system was archaic and caused my sensitive, silky hands to endure more paper cuts than desired. Because researching and learning was literally and figuratively painful, it wasn’t something I looked forward to. But it was something I did because I knew I had to. Employees should not feel this way each morning before they invest 7.5 – 9 hours of their lives into the company.

card_catalogLike libraries adjusted to the times and incorporated technology to become more efficient and user-friendly, organizations must ensure that they (at the very least) have up-to-date and reliable systems and tools to help with employee’s efficiency. They should not have to thumb through archives to get the answers they need for their clients. They shouldn’t be printing on Dot Matrix printers. Employers may have to invest in a tablet or a smartphone for those that need to be on the move. To keep employees from jetting for the door, sometimes we have to approve the purchase order…as it’s cheaper than not and having to recruit again.

Get Rid of the Shush People

I like to talk and library folk get on my nerves telling me to be quiet. Dialogue and collaboration is not encouraged unless you exile yourself into a private little room in the corner. Workplaces can’t be this way if employees are to enjoy themselves. Employee interaction is not only critical to fulfill a social component that every human needs to survive; it also encourages creativity and innovation.

shushThe shush people are those old guards of Personnel folk that are so by the book that they don’t see employees for what they really are…human. When policy is put solely before the people they are meant to protect, engagement becomes nonexistent. Employees will come to work as long as they have to but will go home unfulfilled. Most of the time that they are at work will be spent using the outdated systems to search for new employment.

Ease Up On the Strict Due Dates

A surefire way to kill a buzz…I mean…stifle the workplace, is placing unrealistic expectations on people. Expecting massive procedure or cultural change overnight is just as ineffective as expecting me to read a book and turn it in within two weeks. Who made up those dumb timelines anyway?

Anyway, if libraries had multiple copies of books and different methods for accessing them (online) they would be able to allow more time for patrons to check them out and enjoy them. So planning ahead and anticipating demand would actually benefit everyone that did business with them. Taking the time to plan, forecast and being strategic can help leaders to delegate appropriately, not putting any unnecessary stress and pressure on any one employee. Less pressure and having a plan equals less stress. Less stress frees employees up to make their workspaces a little more lighthearted and fun. When they are free to have a little more fun, you just might keep them and they might actually produce.


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