There have been lots of transitions going on with many of my associates and friends both in library land and those in "regular" jobs. The rough economy tends to reveal the best in managers and the worst. It is easy to have great performance with healthy budgets and motivated people. However, add a depressed economy, reduced resources and both the best and worst will be revealed. I have been privileged to work with some exceptional managers (and some horrible ones) over my long career both in and out of libraries. From my first job in detasseling corn to my current position as a librarian, good managers share traits regardless of the industry or economic situation.
I know what the the manager wants as well as how it fits with what the organization needs. These managers have a clear set of priorities both for me individually and for the organization.
Trust My Judgement
In a world working with people, if I make a call on how to deal with a particular issue my boss will back me up. This is particularly important in public library service. Often crazy patrons, unexpected problems present unique situations. In situations where immediate action is required, I want to know that my boss has my back. Monday morning quarterbacking or 20/20 hindsight is not helpful.
The best managers ask for my opinion, consider it and then make the decision. Notice I said "expects". Silence or dodging an issue is usually not an option. Discussion and dissenting opinions are encouraged so that ultimately the best decision will be made.
Always Thinking about the Future
The best managers are thinking ahead--the next millage, the next person to hire, the next project. Even if there is little hope, no money they are always generating ideas. They also collect people. Regardless of the size of the organization or industry, my favorite managers are always collecting names of people for the "someday" jobs or assembling "dream teams".
So are you working with one of the good ones? For job seekers and employees you can help yourself by understanding what the boss wants or needs. More importantly, try and understand who you are and be honest. Understand your own personality, hot button issues and skills. Self awareness is key in dealing with the employer/employee relationship. Ultimately you will need to find where you belong and that as an employee you will have to conform to the organization more so than the organization conforming to you. It is a challenge and it takes work to make a career.
So the take away from this is to know thyself and especially thyself as a worker. Take charge of your own career development by reading, reaching out to other librarians and focusing on the core of what you love about librarianship.
I have mentioned before that my personal favorite manager/employee blog is Evil HR Lady. If you are in job flux, you should be reading her work regularly. Someone needs to book her for a library conference. We all would benefit.