Library Director and Fiscal Officer performance management
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.