Monday, May 21, 2012

Know Your Worth

The quality of this image isn't very good. I don't have a scanner so I took a picture of it with my little point and shoot.

It says: "Library Management Structure" but the sentiment of this can apply to almost any work place.

At the top of the pile is Winnie-The-Pooh, acting as Chief Librarian (Or CEO, Executive Director etc.) Pooh says, "I am the Chief Librarian. I serve committees, direct policy and plan future developments. Without me there would be no library service."

Under him is Alice in Wonderland, acting as the Library Manager but representative of 'upper management' in general. She says, "I am the Library Manager. I manage the staff, set standards, implement new developments and carry our policy. I am essential to the library service."

Holding up Alice is the Mad-Hatter, who plays the part of the Assistant Librarian, or 'lower level management'. He says, "I am the Assistant Librarian. I bring my professional skill to bear on difficult enquiries, supervise staff & maintain standards of stock and service. The library could not manage without me."

At the bottom of the tower, quivering on his tiny legs, is Piglet. Piglet represents the Library Assistant. He could be the office assistant, the secretary, or the administrator. Piglet says, "I am the Library Assistant. I issue, discharge and shelve books. I answer the phone, send out over-dues, type letters, repair the stock, take book requests and deal with what enquiries I can. I am not really very important."

And then Piglet walks away and the entire pyramid collapses.

I worked in a library once, very briefly. I have to say this is an accurate reflection of my experience there. But it's also an accurate reflection of my experience working retail, not-for-profit and in charity. From talking to those in the corporate world, the story is the same. This happens a lot.

What is it, exactly, that's happening? Well, there's clearly a rift in communication and a lack of understanding regarding the role of everyone within the business, be it a corporation or a charity. I have had some phenomenal managers and the key characteristics of a good manager are an ability to listen, build rapport and effectively support all members of the team in the specific ways they require.

I've also had my fair share of really rubbish managers. People with little or not respect for the people who keep the cogs of the system running every day. People who are hopeless when it comes to listening or understanding the needs of the business and of the people running it. People who think there is a 'trick' to dealing with people and that everyone can be painted with the same brush. People who micro-manage.

You can't pick your managers and sometimes you'll have good ones and sometimes you'll have dreadful ones and sometimes you'll have some that manage to be pretty O.K. Regardless, if you're going to work for someone else you're bound to come across all sorts and we all know you can't change a person.

Well, you can't change other people. There is one person you can change. You see that little Piglet at the bottom? If Piglet were to reflect on his role a little bit, to consider everything he does, he would see that there is huge value to his position. He is essential to the team. As essential as anyone else in the system. And if Piglet truly saw it and truly believed it then he would have an incredible gift.

Change the way you think. Think about what you're worth. When you're working for someone else you are giving them your time. What is the value of that time? Is your time any less important than the person who manages you or the person who manages them, and so on, to the top?

I'll give you a hint, the answer begins with an 'N'.

No. Your time is just as valuable as anyone else's. Piglet matters just as much and if he knew his value, if he knew his worth, he would be able to see that the structure needs him just as much as it needs any of the others.


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