I’ve become a manager of a Unit of some size (7 direct reports and 2 vacant positions). And I find that it’s eating my brain.
More specifically, I find myself spending a very large amount of my time, both at work and at home, stressing about being a manager. Am I doing it right? Am I phrasing that correctly and clearly? Am I being consistent? Am I being fair? Have I accurately articulated my expectations? Do I have a solid foundation (reasons) for my expectations (can I back them up)? Have I explained and documented the policies/procedures? Where does this thing/part/question/decision/procedure/policy fit into the “big picture”? Am I going to regret making this change? Will this decision come back to haunt me later? Am I communicating (the right) things regularly? Too much communication? Not enough communication? And on and on and on…the questions never really stop. I’m constantly second-guessing everything.
[UPDATE:] My least favorite questions that constantly echo in my head: Am I setting/establishing precedence with this? What is the message being sent to everyone else? How will this affect my fellow managers?
I want to be a good manager. I want my staff to feel supported and challenged yet not overwhelmed. I want my staff to be successful and respected by their peers both within the library and in the larger world of libraries and librarianship. I want us to produce consistent and high quality work that means we’re meeting our goal of ensuring access for users to the “stuff” of the library/institution. I want my Unit to be productive and be a place where people *want* to work.
Like most people, I’ve had the bad manager experience. The one where you feel like they’ve put a target on your back and no matter what you do you’re doing it wrong. And there’s no guidance or direction. Just you floundering trying to read their mind. It’s toxic.
I’ve also had the good manager experience. The one where you feel like you are free to try new things and if you screw it up it will be OK. The one where the criticism they give is constructive and you’re always given the room to improve/correct. But they also give you clear guidelines and expectations so there’s no guessing game about what you are supposed to be doing.
That’s the manager I want to be. That good manager. And I’m finding it hard to balance stressing about being a manager with the actual doing part of management and also balancing it with the other non-management parts of my job. I’ve unfortunately been neglecting much of my professional and non-professional life because of the stress and time spent on being or trying to be a good manager.
Fellow (library) managers – how do you do it? How do you not spend all your time stressing about management and being a good manager? How do you not feel overwhelmed by it all the time? I want to be fair and kind/understanding yet not be a push-over. How do you strike that balance?