Real life management questions that should be asked in a MLS management class:
How do you decide to discontinue a library service? What communication needs to happen both inside and outside the library to avoid backlash? - RepoRat
You work at a public library. You have a patron who comes in on a regular basis. They are nice and well humored, but tend to monopolize staff time with questions they could easily answer themselves and commentary that can be (for lack of a better term) distracting. Some staff members complain to you about this person because it takes them away from their work for longer period of times than it should; others enjoy getting the town gossip and think this person is just harmless. What do you do, if anything? - Andy
You have an alcoholic coworker who is missing deadlines and turning in substandard work. How do you resolve the situation? - Anne Graham
You work at an academic library in a state institution. You're in a hiring freeze. You've got a documented poor performer that is devastating morale and causing more work for staff and management. In the progressive discipline process, the next step for another failure to perform would be termination. You'll need to justify your decision to keep the person on or to let them go to your library admin, to your staff, and to University human resources office outside the library. Do you keep the person to keep the position, or move ahead with termination for the latest offense? Provide a clear plan of action relating to (1) addressing the likely concerns of each of the parties (HR, broader staff, library admin, staff member); (2) how you handle confidential HR issues such as this when another staff member comes to you to complain about a coworker's performance; (3) How you ensure that the employee receiving discipline will be treated equitably in the workplace by both coworkers and management, and what challenges you will face in ensuring such treatment. - ωαřмaiden ❤Bassetmom❤
In the middle of a meeting, an employee repeatedly changes the subject from what the meeting was convened about to a personal grievance, including verbally attacking you as the manager. How do you respond? How do you handle it after the meeting? What other communication do make to other staff members who are concerned about what is happening? - Hedgehog
The Library ended the year surprisingly in the black. In fact, you have to spend $20,000 in non-recurring funds before they are re appropriated. How do you go about choosing what purchases to make? Who do you involve in the conversations? How do you prioritize when requests are likely to exceed available funds? (If you do not currently work in a library you can use as an example so that you have a basis for such decisions, please use the library association with the SLIS as your basis.) - ωαřмaiden ❤Bassetmom❤
(this is more into admin than just managerial) You have to cut $25K from your budget. Your choices are a) increase children's fines, b) eliminate a circulation position, c) cut adult materials budget, d) close on Sundays, or e) cut outreach. Your department is not being affected. The departments who will be affected all want the cut to come from someone else. Explain your process for which decision you make. - John: Thread Killer
There are upcoming changes to staffing models that will soon be taking place at your library, including department transfers that will not be welcome changes to some of those being transferred. How and when do you communicate the changes to staff? - Hedgehog
You hear staff gossiping about the personal relationship between two other members of the administrative team, and realize this has been a long-term piece of gossip and is negatively affecting the morale of the lower-level staff. A. How do you address the gossip and concerns of the lower-level staff? B. Do you address the underlying issue of perception with the people be gossiped about and how? - Katie
You have a staff member who is going through a hard time (divorce, medical issues, etc.) and is not able - no matter how much they'd like - to do the quality of work they'd normally do. (Or, for that matter, the quantity.) How do you go about managing time, expectations (yours, theirs, other staff's) in a way that's equitable and meets any relevant legal requirements? [Also, I think the Ask A Manager blog - - should be required reading for anyone contemplating management.] - Jennifer Arnott
You have a staff member who is not meeting performance expectations. What can you do to communicate expectations more clearly? What is your approach if they are still not met? - Rachel Walden
As a manager of X department, what development and training opportunities are necessary for your staff? How will you go about providing those opportunities *and* advocating for any necessary funding? - ωαřмaiden ❤Bassetmom❤
You're the head of a department and you've just discovered that one of your supervisors is having an affair with one of their staff. The entire department has known about this and have noticed that there has been preferential treatment happening. This has been going on for months before you have found out and discontent is growing among the ranks. How do you handle: 1. the supervisor and the employee situation and 2. How do you move the department past this issue and get them back on track and re-build morale. - Mary Carmen
As a manager, how do you work with a public library board that wants to micro-manage every aspect of library policies and activities. - Katy S
Something about how to talk to the people you report to to ask for change, resources, etc. - Rachel Walden
One of your employees goes out of their way to avoid learning new things, referring questions on other staff members and claiming that they just can't learn it. How do you encourage them to try new things? How do you make sure you as the manager aren't that person? - Hedgehog
There should be middle management questions: Dept head faced with implementing a decision she did not get to make, does not agree with etc--how to without compromising personal integrity and without undermining management. - Hedgehog
There needs to ba an "Ask the Library Managers" blog. - Mary Carmen from iPhone is an available domain... :) - Hedgehog
A question a week with feedback from multiple managers? - Andy
What's the difference between Leadership and Management, and how do they effect each other? - RudĩϐЯaЯïan
The majority of your staff are civil service and/or faculty. Consequences are few and far between. How do you motivate, support, challenge, and otherwise get your employees to do their best work despite your inability to provide structural consequences? - RudĩϐЯaЯïan
All managers are middle managers. Identify who is "above" each of these management positions, and brainstorm some best practices for managing up in each case: what are the Above's likely concerns and needs, and how would those intersect/impact upon Manager X's concerns and needs, and how might Manager X navigate the conflicts or tensions between those pairs? - RudĩϐЯaЯïan
You have the opportunity to make some hires, but know that retention is the key to keeping your library well staffed (ie, vacated positions are rarely allowed to be filled). What qualities would you look for in a potential hire, and how would you identify those attributes in a candidate? - RudĩϐЯaЯïan
Andy, are we just spitballing here, or are you teaching an MLS Management class? - RudĩϐЯaЯïan
Don't know if we're just spitballing or not, but I'm taking all kinds of notes. - Deborah Fitchett
I like that idea Andy. Questions can be solicited from readers and then a variety of managers can respond, that way you get from all levels (middle, administrative, directors) and from different environments (public, private, special, private-academic, public-academic, etc.). - Mary Carmen
Rudi: LSW has recently had a couple of threads on library management and what MLS grad programs should teach. I'm just marrying the two ideas (which is legal in New Jersey). . - Andy