Reflections on Overall Learning and Experience in the Management for Information Professionals Course

 

reflection

     It is all about learning. This is the only way to grow as a professional of any kind and as a person. Even though I enjoy learning about anything, management has always been a territory I never thought I would explore, the reason being that I never liked telling people what to do. That is why my knowledge about management and what it involves was very poor before I started the MIP course. The combination of lectures, guest presentations, blog writing, the group collaboration exercise, and the group case study project revealed to me how the management of an organisation can facilitate the achievement of its goals. The lectures and presentations gave me understanding about collaboration, strategic planning, leadership, budgeting, and how a library is the same as any other institution when it comes to management. Further, the group projects thought me first-hand about collaboration and its challenges. The blog writing, though, was something new I experienced in my academic studies, and I will give it the main attention in this final MIP blog.

     The reflective blog writing helped me learn very effectively. Why? Because it made me relate new knowledge to my own life experiences which made this knowledge personal and memorable. I have to say, writing reflectively and sharing my writings with other people was very hard at first, the main reason being that I am a very private person. Another reason was that reflecting on what I learn during my undergraduate studies has never been a part of my learning process and I was not accustomed to it. It felt strange at first to relate what I have learnt about management to my personal experiences. For example, I did not think collaboration and organisational culture to be relevant to my life, but I soon found out how wrong I was. I realised that different aspects of management have always been influencing not only my professional, but also my personal life one way or another. Being unhappy in my workplace because of the organisational culture of order and authority made my life unhappy as a whole. Collaboration can be seen not only in the workplace, but also at home when all the family members share the chores nobody wants to do. And so on, and so on.

     Therefore, for conclusion, I want to share that the MIP course thought me both about management and about myself. Now I know many things about management: how to interact effectively with people I work with and people I work for; how a manager can be a good leader; how important are the organisational strategy and culture for achieving a company’s goals; how to collaborate successfully; even how to manage a budget. With the help of this blog, I reflected on my life through the prism of management, and this gave me not only an appreciation of the subject, but also a better understanding of my being in a world that has everything to do with management.

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Reflection on Guest Presentations

       This blog will be about not only management, but also about life itself. Each guest presentation during the MIP course was unique and insightful in its own way. All of the presentations taught me something about management and librarianship, but some of them moved me, making me think not only about my professional development, but also how it is intertwined with my personal life. I will discuss a few of the presentations, and I will begin with the things I’ve learnt.

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     I am not a great fan of social media as I am a very private person, and even the thought to share something on Facebook, for example, makes my skin crawl. Then, the talks of Meadhbh Murphy, UCD Archives, and Katherine McSharry, Head of Outreach NLI, opened my eyes to the importance of social media for archives and libraries. And, of course, that what social media is all about—to showcase and promote. Now I have made my piece with Facebook and the lot, at least when they are related to libraries and archives, as with the help of social media a wider audience from all over the world gets to know what treasures are kept in their collections.

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       From the presentation of Aoife Lawton, National Health Service Librarian, I learnt more about strategic management and how it can help accomplish organisational goals through strategic planning, organising and controlling organisational resources, and leading. Above all, I realised that the secret behind being a successful manager and a good leader is to be a motivated and a positive person. This led me to the realisation as to why I always fail to be the leader—positivity is not one of my virtues. Well, being more positive is one more thing to add to my Bucket list.

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       Now, I want to share how the presentation of Dr John B. Howard, University Librarian in UCD, touched me personally. Listening about his professional background, change of career path, and the significance of cultural awareness when working in different places, brought back memories of how I had to leave my country and find my way among people who had a different way of seeing the world. Dr Howard’s words ‘When you change jobs you learn a lot’, gave me piece of mind that my wanderings were not in vain. His presentation also asserted the importance of organisational culture, and how it must be changed in order to achieve new organisational goals. Another lesson learnt about embracing changes, and how they can bring a positive development in an organisation. And not only this, embracing changes also build you as a person.

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     All in all, every single presentation confirmed one thing I believe in—it is very important to be happy in your job. As the saying goes, you should work to live, not live to work.

UCD Library LibGuides Review

     UCD Library offers an extensive collection of online guides and tutorials concerned with not only all UCD Colleges and Schools but also with anything to do with academic studies and research. During the first semester of my studies I consulted some of the LibGuides related to my MLIS course, like Academic Integrity – Referencing, Citation & Avoiding Plagiarism; Literature Review; Bibliometrics, Open Access for Research Impact; Copyright; and EndNote. These LIbGuides provided me with great additional information and in some of the cases – with the much-needed clarification on topics that I found difficult to grasp during lectures. The great advantage of the LibGuides is that I can consult them whenever I want and take as long time as I need. Here I will discuss two particular LibGuides, Bibliometrics and Planning and Environmental Policy.

 

  Bibliometrics LibGuide  bibliometrics

     The Bibliometrics LibGuide is already known to me, and my opinion about it is very high, as I consider it a complete course on Bibliometrics in its own right. I don’t have to look for any additional sources to find out about Bibliometrics and what it is used for. I particularly like the organization of the LibGuide’s webpage – the main tools commonly used for measuring research impact are clearly displayed on the Home page, and the subpages are easy to navigate.  If I were doing a research, I could get useful advice included in the LibGuide of how to improve my research impact and how to keep my online research profile up-to-date in different scholarly identifiers. Another useful means to grasp Bibliometrics is the MyRI (Measuring your Research Impact) online tutorial in three modules – 1. Introduction to Bibliometrics, 2. Track your research impact, and 3. Journal ranking and analysis. Completing it last semester proved very useful for adding to what I already knew from class. The Bibliometrics LibGuide also provides presentation slides, many videos on the topic by scholars, and information about useful resources. All and all, I don’t think I can add anything else to this LibGuide, it’s perfect, at least for me.

                                 Planning and Environmental Policy LibGuide

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     The Planning and Environmental Policy LibGuide is another matter. It is very useful for finding information on planning and environmental policy, but other than that, there are no materials to explain to me what is planning and what is environmental policy. Such materials will probably be a nice thing to be considered and added to this LibGuide. The webpage offers information material on planning and environmental policy like books, journal articles and databases, but, if you are like me – with hardly any idea about policies and planning, you wouldn’t even know where to start. As I didn’t have time to do some exploring into the readings offered, I left the LibGuide as uninformed about planning and environmental policy as when I accessed it. I hope you like my photograph though – it’s a mountain village in Bulgaria. I wish planning and environmental policies could preserve such places, because, in my opinion, people should never lose touch with nature and must try to protect it as much as they can.

Organisational culture

       As this post is a reflection on organisational culture, it made me think about the culture of the last establishment I used to work for. At that time, I never gave it a thought why my co-workers and I were so miserable in our workplace. Now, after I’ve done some reading about organisational culture, I know the reason. The Harvard Business Review Organizational Culture Series readings opened to me a new understanding of how different organisations have different culture styles which styles are related to the strategies these organisations employ. It seems so logical (but it still never occurred to me before) that an organisation with a cost leadership strategy has main cultural characteristics of order and authority, and a differentiation strategy company has a culture of enjoyment, learning, and purpose.

       I remember how unhappy I felt spending my days in a work place where there was no atmosphere of care, tolerance, and enjoyment, but only discipline, commands, and scrutiny. There was no encouragement of team work, nor an appreciation of a job well done. And everybody (employees and managers) knew that there is no prospect for some structural change. Workers’ needs and feelings were unimportant. Now I realise that the strategic goals of that establishment were only customer and proprietor orientated, forgetting the happiness and well-being of its workers. The organisational design had led to the formation of its culture, and the sad part was that the employers and managers didn’t want to change this organisational culture, even though it made the workers miserable. And something in the same line of thought – the cultural fit of the existing and newly hired managers – it is not surprising to me now that they were chosen to suit the organisational culture of order, results, and authority.

       Realising the secrets behind managing the people of an organisation gives me mixed feelings. I’m very happy to learn more about management and its applications, but at the same time it makes me very sad to recognise that I’ve been working for years in a place that could have done something for refining its organisational culture. The Harvard Organizational Culture readings exposed to me the way management employs strategy and organisational culture to achieve company goals. If I am in a managerial position someday, I hope I will be able to find the right balance between organisational strategy and workers’ welfare. And I will have one advantage – I know what it is like to be an unhappy employee, and I will do my best to avoid causing discontent to the people who I would be in charge of.

Reference: Harvard Business Review Organizational Culture Series: Context, Conditions, and Culture; What’s Your Organisation’s Cultural Profile?; How to Shape Your Culture.

Collaboration

     Collaboration to me (as a stranger to management theory and practice) has always meant people working together to achieve some objective as a team. Reading Maynard’s article clarified the concept of collaboration to me a little bit more, pointing out three important tips for successful collaboration in the workplace. I already had the perception that communication between co-workers and acknowledgement for a job well done are necessary when collaborating. The employment of visualisation to communicate ideas was something new to me, and I found very interesting the fact that visuals are 6 times more effective than words. Visualisation definitely will be a tool I am going to use when sharing my ideas for future projects requiring collaborative work. Nevertheless, Maynard’s piece left me wondering – is this all that can be said about collaboration?

     Field offered me more clarity and practical insights for cultivating a collaborative environment. Now I can picture better what should be done to promote collaboration in the workplace. According to Field knowledge of team goals and company expectations aid team members with their tasks. I can agree that knowing where you are going and what you should be doing is essential to achieve the set goals. Further, I like the ideas of adopting a creative atmosphere in the workplace and leveraging team members’ strengths, because I believe these will allow employees to show their full potential, giving them confidence for achieving best results. Last, but not least, knowing one another will unquestionably help team members to better understand and appreciate each other, and accordingly – they will collaborate well.

     I got few more guidance points about collaboration from Morgan’s article. The ones I find very valuable (and true for all spheres of life when you are looking for cooperation of somebody) are: to listen to the employees’ ideas, needs and suggestions; to integrate collaboration into the workflow; to reward teamwork; and collaboration to be company initiative. I would like to quote Morgan, because I think he says it best, that collaboration “allows employees to feel more connected to their jobs and co-workers, reduces stress at the workplace, makes their jobs easier, allows for more work freedom, and in general makes them happier people”.

     Some final words about my thoughts on the role I’m going to have in the on-campus collaboration exercise (a scavenger’s hunt) this coming Wednesday. The people from our team met so we can organize ourselves before the exercise. I volunteered to take photographs during the exercise, because I love photography. Frankly, I don’t know what to expect from this endeavour to collaborate, because I know only one person from the team, and also, I have no idea what the different obstacles are going to be. Hopefully all of us in the team will give our best and work well together.

Grug – a survival manager

The Croods

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     There’s no bigger responsibility than being in charge of the life safety of your loved ones. That is why I call Grug a survival manager. He is very authoritative and makes sure his family follows a set of rules according to which change and new things are bad. Grug is a successful manager, because his family is the only one around that has survived the hostile environment. But this situation changes when a cataclysm destroys their cave-home, and the world as they know it comes to an end. Now Grug must face an unfamiliar environment for which he has no survival rules. And here Guy comes to the rescue with lots of knowledge about this new world, and most importantly, he knows how do deal with all those new obstacles and dangers threatening the lives of Grug’s family. Grug’s style of management of following the same routine is not efficient in the new circumstances. He finally becomes aware of this when his whole family (apart from his wife, of course) decides to follow Guy to safety. And here is the turning point for Grug – he reflects on himself and realises that he has to change the way he thinks and deals with challenges in order to be able to continue protecting his family. He must swallow his pride and collaborate with Guy. And just like this – with self-reflection, collaboration and willingness to change his ways, Grug again becomes a successful survival manager.

 

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