Our case study for this month highlights work we did for a public library client of ours. We are passionate about helping our public library clients learn and use best practices when it comes to Human Resources strategies. In this project we worked with a library’s Board of Trustees to develop a performance management process for the library’s senior leadership team.
We were contacted by the Board President who was seeking a partner to help develop a performance management process and provide compensation data, including best practices on pay increases, incentives, and other aspects of rewards, for their Library Director and Fiscal Officer.
- Our process started with collaborating with the Board, the Library Director, and the Fiscal Officer to understand expectations regarding job duties, and just as importantly, what traits and behaviors, also known as competencies, are important to be successful in those roles at their library. This is a critical part of the process to make decisions about expectation around what needs to be done and how it gets done.
- Using what we learned we were able to refine the job descriptions which is the primary tool for setting expectations. We ensured all of the critical elements of the job were included so that the Library Director and Fiscal Officer would have a clear idea of what is expected of them both in terms of job duties and behaviors.
- With the refined job descriptions and the competencies defined for each role we then developed a performance management tool that easily allowed the Trustees to provide constructive feedback during the annual review process. A suite of materials was provided including review forms, instructions, and goal-setting tools anchored in the job descriptions and strategic plan.
- Finally, we provided cash compensation benchmarking using general survey tools as well as library-specific compensation data. Information on best practices regarding pay-for-performance approaches, compensation philosophy, and compensation program administration was also provided. The compensation recommendations were linked to the performance management processes to create an integrated system to performance management and rewards.
If you are struggling with developing a system to set expectations, provide feedback, and tie rewards to outcomes, contact us. We understand the challenges Trustees face and are glad to share our experience helping them perform this critical part of their roles.
By Cari Dubiel
Developing and executing the evaluation of an Executive Director or Fiscal Officer is often a challenge for public library trustees and employees alike. As community members, trustees aren’t always able to be on-site at the library. Administrative staff are tasked with operating the library, so the trustees don’t have to, and there is an expectation of trust between the two.
Yet an evaluation is a key component of the trustees’ responsibility. Like any other staff member, a Director or Fiscal Officer should receive feedback and embrace opportunities to grow. At the same time, these important staff members must help to guide the evaluation process so the Board can understand what they do. Here are a few tips for those on both sides of the evaluation.
- Commit to evaluating your administrative staff formally once a year and on an ongoing basis throughout.
- Document throughout the year when you notice opportunities and strengths. Use specific examples.
- Ask staff who report to the Director and Fiscal Officer to give feedback. Consider a 360 degree review process, where the administrative staff have the opportunity to review their own performance, their employees can give feedback, and all Board members (not just the personnel committee) can provide input. If you have a Friends of the Library or Foundation organization, solicit input from them as well.
- Review the questions you use at least every two to three years to make sure they are still relevant to the library’s strategic goals and the work of the administrative staff.
- United for Libraries, a division of ALA, has great resources for Boards looking to improve their evaluation processes.
- The Ohio Library Council Core Competencies can get you on the path to what traits and behaviors are important at your library.
For Library Directors and Fiscal Officers
- You should have an active role in helping to create and revise the questions for your evaluation.
- Do a self-evaluation every year and share your findings with your Board. This will also help you to set goals both short- and long-term. Document your own successes, too – since the Board is not always around to see those, it will help them to have that information and statistics to back up your work.
- Speaking of statistics, you can use vendor tools and/or Excel to create easy-to-read charts showing your progress and growth. Baker and Taylor’s Collection HQ, for example, has a customizable dashboard you can have e-mailed to yourself each month. Other vendors, such as Midwest Tape and Overdrive, can create personalized reviews of how your users are consuming the products you buy from them.
- Even if your Board does not have a 360 degree review process, you should solicit feedback from your staff. If your organization is not very flat, you may have to create a survey or other form with clear boundaries so that you do not invite non-constructive criticism. If you’re in a smaller library, you can hold focus groups and/or one-on-one conversations with staff.
- When creating goals and action items for yourself, use your strategic plan as a guide.
Providing feedback to your leadership team is critical. Following these steps will make it more effective when you provide it.
Cari Dubiel is a public library expert with 20-plus years of experience. Having worked from the ground up as a Shelver to her current management position with the Twinsburg Public Library, Cari understands the operational aspects of public libraries from both a staff and administrative perspective. Cari has managed projects such as technical services workflow development, software evaluation and implementation, collection development analysis, employee onboarding and training, and website usability. She holds a bachelors’ degree from Hiram College and a Master’s in Library and Information Science from Kent State University. She is also an adjunct faculty member at KSU in the iSchool program. She presents frequently for PCI Webinars and has also presented for NEO-RLS, OLC, and public library staff development days. A former Library Liaison to the National board of Sisters in Crime, Cari is very active in the publishing industry. She is represented by Lynnette Novak of the Seymour Agency and is the lead editor for Writing Bloc Books.
As a professional services firm ourselves, we know the challenges they face as they start to grow. Our latest success story provides insight into the needs of a growing firm and how a Human Resources consulting partner can help.
Sangfroid Strategy is a full-service consulting firm that specializes in helping organizations whose work falls at the intersection of innovation, education, and community, build and implement innovative programming, plan for their future, and figure out how to get there. Their work is highly customized, and always based on evidence-based practice and engagement of populations who are most proximate to the problems their customers are trying to solve.
At their core, Sangfroid Strategy believes that people are the drivers of great communities [and organizations], and when you fully engage the human element of organizations and the people they serve, you amplify the impact of planning and growth.
Founder and CEO Heather Lenz was our partner on the project. She said:
We have experienced phenomenal growth over the past few years and our people processes have not kept up. We contacted OA because our growth meant we needed to upgrade our ways of communicating important things to our employees, especially around expectations regarding both job duties and behaviors.
OA helped us develop the tools to set expectations effectively, provide feedback, and clarify what is important to us and our clients. Additionally they helped us navigate the myriad of employment rules companies have to follow so that we would be compliant and do the right thing for our employees.
They provided tools such as an employee handbook, policies and procedures, performance management tools, and compensation data. They coached us with performance management, hiring, and other activities. They help us understand how incentives can be used effectively to drive business outcomes and reward high performance. They put us on a path to start strong in 2022 and build on our recent successes.
Smaller companies can have limited resources…especially time…but the need to build and maintain good HR processes is still required. We can help with tools to make this a bit easier. Want to know more? Contact us and check out other success stories to learn more.
Our clients contact us asking for guidance when they wish to implement leadership development programs. There are usually two needs they have identified:
- Helping senior management become more effective at leading the organization and becoming more strategic, and
- Helping front-line supervisors become more adept at managing their teams and learning basic management skills to become more effective.
Regardless of what the need is, we want to learn some information from the client to help guide them to select the best topics and also ensure there is a system in place to reinforce the learning and integrate it into the culture.
Some of the things we ask the client are:
- What are your goals? More concretely, what do you envision the results to look like? You should have some idea of what you want to achieve. We recommend you take the time to write your goals down and what they will look like.
- How do you know what training gaps there are? How have they manifested themselves in how people manage or lead? What has the effect been on employees? Identifying the difference between long-standing issues and recent critical events will ensure you are addressing root causes and not merely symptoms.
- How open is the team to learning? Are they willing to change their approach, even if it is difficult? Work may be needed to ensure people are primed to learn.
- Do the actions of the leadership team model the behaviors you want to see in the supervisors? Do they walk the walk? Without alignment between what leadership says and how they behave the program will fail.
- What systems are in place to hold people accountable and make changes? Is there a robust performance management and coaching system in place? Training is used to set expectations. There has to be a system in place to measure and communicate results.
Training and development programs can be expensive to implement. Determining your goals and defining the outcomes before you embark on working with a partner or sending people to training is critical to ensure you get the best return on investment. Making sure the means to measure behavior change is also needed to determine success or failure.
Also remember that training should not be seen as ‘punishment’. Remedying poor performance may involve additional training, but it should not be seen as a means to enforce discipline or only used if there is something wrong. Training and development is based on taking good people and making them even better.
How should we respond to the ‘Great Resignation’?
By Ryan Sheehan
Like many of you, I have recently read a number of articles about the mass-exodus of workers from the US labor market [i.e., the ‘Great Resignation’] since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and have been reflecting upon its consequences, causes, and how we leaders should respond. Here is some data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- A record 42.1 million Americans quit a job in 2019.
- Every month from April to August 2021, at least 2.5% of the American workforce quit their jobs.
- In August alone, more than 4.3 million people handed in their two weeks’ notice, according to federal statistics.
- So far, 2021 quit levels are about 10% to 15% higher than they were in record-setting 2019.
This trend is a clearly a significant and steep one. In our daily lives, we are seeing the firsthand consequences of staffing shortages that hamstring many businesses’ operations and the slowing down supply chains.
The driving factors beyond this phenomenon are numerous and varied [and in some cases debatable…e.g., the impact of federal supplemental unemployment insurance] but the most common and credible reasons given for the ‘Great Resignation’ appear to be:
- Low wages and stagnant wage growth outpacing increased cost of goods/living.
- Increasing childcare costs [that simply making work unaffordable for some parents].
- Declining working conditions, exacerbated by COVID-19 [i.e., healthcare, service, and retail industry jobs particularly, but also any employees who have been saddled with additional work responsibilities and hours due to increased pandemic-related staffing shortages].
- Jobs lacking opportunities for career growth.
- Jobs lacking in providing personal fulfillment, meaning, or purpose.
- Long term pandemic fatigue.
- Garden variety job burnout.
On the surface, this challenge seems new, overwhelming, and with no end in sight – but is this actually the case? A once-in-a-lifetime pandemic hanging in the air that is creating societal-wide uncertainty is a novel dynamic, but all these other casual factors are workplace problems we have faced before in one form or another. As always, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, but several areas [beyond wage increases and other financial incentives] which businesses can focus on improvement are:
- Creating more manageable [and rebalancing] workloads and performance goals.
- Implementing flexible work schedules [and/or updating and the policies, procedures, and expectations around them].
- Giving employees true autonomy and control over their work duties [to the extent possible].
- Meaningful rewarding and acknowledging of good work and extra contributions during these last several, very challenging years.
- Fostering a genuine, supportive workplace community and positive work culture [that is calibrated for hybrid and/or fully remote environments].
- Helping workers find mission, meaning, and value in their work.
- Asking employees directly what their organizations can do to make their work experience better [in the context their new work/life balance struggles but within the business’ limitations].
Most importantly, we business leaders need not only to think differently, but to act more boldly than we might have in the past. We should avoid always seeing fatigue and burnout as the worker’s problem and go beyond offering things like yoga and mindfulness training to help them ‘fix their own issues’. An extra week off for a Zoom or burnout break [as a few tech companies have recently offered] is a nice gesture but not a real commitment to change. And, as always, the true keys to success in applying the right remedies is in their specificity, correct application, and compatibility with your organization’s and workforce’s particular dynamics.
Ryan Sheehan is a colleague and friend of OA and has led a number of successful talent acquisition projects for non-profit and public-sector organizations with us. He is an accomplished Human Resources and talent management professional with a solid track record of aligning people and business strategies. Across his 18 years of career experience, he has developed, implemented, and improved Human Resources programs, processes, and tools/technologies. Also, Ryan is adept at directly matching top talent with esteemed employers and creating strong talent acquisition strategies, trainings, and teams.
It has been our privilege to work with a number of public library systems by helping them find their next Library Director, Fiscal Officer, or Human Resources leader.
As these are high-profile and critical positions in your Library, you need a partner with proven library recruiting expertise in sourcing qualified candidates and facilitating the screening and selection process. We bring a unique perspective to our work because we have experience in all Human Resources disciplines as well as recruiting, which means you get:
- Years of experience recruiting executive-level talent and knowing how to locate and engage with top talent.
- A sensible approach to engaging with the labor market for talent, whether through our broad network of library and public-sector professionals or using the newest technology tools to connect with talent.
- Experience working with Library senior management, trustees, and community stakeholders to ensure all constituencies who have input are heard.
- A diverse pool of talent reflecting the needs of your community, staff, and other stakeholders.
- Guidance on how to develop a job description so that you can clearly convey what the role is about.
- Accurate compensation data based on our extensive experience benchmarking library positions so that you know what an appropriate compensation package should look like.
- Providing you with a robust screening and selection process so that you are learning the most about candidates and how they would be successful in the role.
- Assistance with making the offer, negotiating with the finalist/s, and recommending best practices for orientation and onboarding.
- Providing tools to set expectations and assist you with coaching and performance management.
Our library clients include
- Clermont County Public Library
- Cleveland Public Library
- Cuyahoga County Public Library
- Delaware County District Library
- Stark Library
- Stow – Munroe Falls Public Library
- Tiffin – Seneca Public Library
- Toledo Lucas County Public Library
- Westerville Public Library
- Wickliffe Public Library
- Ohio Library Council
We understand libraries’ unique workplace dynamics, trends in librarianship, the challenges libraries face, and what the future holds. We are members in the American Library Association/Public Library Association [ALA/PLA], Ohio Library Council [OLC], Michigan Library Association [MLA], Ohio Government Finance Officers Association [OHGFOA], and the International Public Management Association for Human Resources [IPMA-HR].
The 2021 Ohio Library Council Convention and Expo is going to be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus October 13 to 15, 2021. OA will attend as an exhibitor and we are excited to be part of this event.
The Ohio Library Council is the statewide professional association which represents the interests of Ohio’s public libraries, their trustees, Friends and staff. The membership of the OLC is composed of public library systems, library trustees, Friends of the Library groups, library staff members, other library institutions, and library-related commercial vendors.
OA became an Associate Member of OLC in 2019. After our work helping OLC select its Executive Director, we wanted to deepen our relationship with them because of the valuable resources they provide which helps us become more effective helping our public library clients.
If you will be at the conference, stop by our booth! We can share how we have helped many of Ohio’s public libraries with Human Resources consulting, recruitment, other Human Resources consulting projects.
Over the years we have had a chance to work with several organizations in the Engineering, Architecture, Design, and Construction industries. Our most recent success story highlights work we have done with our client Euthenics, Inc.
Euthenics, Inc. is a civil engineering consulting firm providing excellence in service to its clients for over 50 years. Their dedicated and highly-qualified staff, using the latest technological advancements, with hands-on involvement by management at all levels, enable Euthenics to successfully fulfill its clients’ needs and expectations. Their philosophy is to deliver quality and responsive engineering services on time and in a cost effective manner, while building lasting relationship with its clients.
We were asked to help them assess their current programs for attracting and retaining talent. It’s well-known that the labor market is very tight right now, and it is especially challenging for professional services firms to attract top talent.
We worked with Principal Dan Bender and Human Resources Manager Marijo Rickel at Euthenics. They said:
We wanted to conduct an evaluation of our current compensation and benefit packages. Having experienced years of low turnover, we find ourselves needing to fill vital, upper management positions in the very near future and want to make sure that our offers are not only competitive but among the leaders in our industry.
In addition, we want to make sure we are in the best position to retain our valued employees from a compensation and benefits perspective. Our intent is to use the workplace and industry information to make informed and relevant changes where and as needed.
OA has experience in our industry and understand the challenges we face. They performed their analysis and made recommendations so that we understood our competitive position and what areas we can focus on to improve it. They also worked with us to share their insight into trends with time off, incentives, and other programs.
Working with OA gave us the tools to inform the rest of the management team, and we are planning on working with OA to develop further our strategies to attract and retain people.
Smaller and mid-sized firms may have a harder time competing for talent. But we find that looking beyond cash compensation and including all elements of what you have to offer your employees, and communicating it clearly and effectively, can go a long way to building value proposition that attracts top talent.