Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Perfection Myth

Image from Indexed

I wouldn't call myself a perfectionist (there is a reason that I ask Ms. T to make all my storytime props - I know she'll take her time and do a better job than I would!). But I do take my work pretty seriously, and as a manager I really try to stay on top of things so that I can help my staff stay on top of things. I try to have my ducks in a row when it comes to scheduling and communicating and touching base with everyone about upcoming programs.

But sometimes I make mistakes.

I recently blogged about the new challenge of becoming a "Youth Services" department and the changes that has necessitated. We now have two desk schedules and lots more programs to keep up with. I now have additional staff to touch base with and coordinate with. We were promised an additional part-time Youth Services clerk, but that has yet to materialize (I am crossing my fingers for January....!).

And all this has meant that sometimes we don't have desk coverage. And sometimes that's just because we don't have the staff, and sometimes it's because I've missed something. A program didn't make it onto the schedule. I didn't realize how long an outreach visit would actually take.

There was a time that I would beat myself up for these mistakes, but I have come to learn that they happen. We readjust. We make notes for next time. We move on.

I am very lucky to have an extremely supportive and capable staff who are willing to change things around and help cover as needed. I can count on one hand the number of times that an organizational mishap has actually affected the people that we serve. (Although that happens occasionally, too! And guess what, people usually understand!)

As a manager, I think the best reaction when these mixups occur is to own it if it's your mistake. Let your staff know that you, too, are human. Be willing to laugh about it, apologize for it, and help cover what needs to be covered. If it's someone else's mistake, remember that it's probably not that big a deal. Address it once you're no longer annoyed and with a proactive mindset - what could be changed to avoid mistakes like this in the future?

The image in this post has been taped to my computer monitor at work since I started my job here six years ago. As a person in my first managerial position, I really put a lot of pressure on myself to get everything right. It's taken me until now, but as I accept this new challenge of managing additional staff and getting to know a new patron base, I have realized that everything's not going to be perfect right away. There's a learning curve here and that's okay.

And I know that one day this will all seem routine and I can go back to feeling on top of things once again.