Bad Habits May Hold Back Your Library Success

You’re a reasonably successful librarian at a reasonably good academic library. But do you and your library seem to be hitting a plateau? At some point perhaps all of us are challenged to determine what it is about our past success that will no longer enable us to achieve future success. It’s no easy task to determine what no longer contributes to our success. Those are the things we need to stop doing in order to concentrate our energies on those things that will help build sustainable improvement. Is there help available?

Possibly. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There is a new book by Marshall Goldsmith that according to the folks at Knowledge@Wharton is not another book about management fads, but is ultimately an etiquette book. The success formula seems to be good manners equals professional success.

Goldmith delivers his top twenty habits that hold people back from sustaining their past success. The fact that they may be written in the context of business organizations does little to suggest those working in the library profession need not worry that they’ll develop (or already have) these bad habits. As you read them you may think of some that apply to colleagues, but more than likely each of us displays these bad habits without thinking much about them. Here are some examples:

Adding too much value: Happens when successful people can’t leave colleagues ideas well enough alone, and take either an “I knew that” or ” we know a better way” mentality.

Making destructive comments: Gratuitous negative comments will destroy working relationships. If you are guilty ask a colleague to give you a monetary fine everytime you do this.

Starting with “no”, “but” or “however”: Many of us do this without even thinking about it, and it can really dampen staff creativity. In addition, it contributes to bad morale.

There are other bad habits such as failing to give recognition, playing favorites, failing to express gratitude, and more. I don’t doubt you are somewhat familiar with a number of these and the rest of the 20 bad habits. But I suspect that many of us academic librarians would be far more likely to recognize the bad habits in those other members of our communities, the students and faculty, that we work with. Perhaps it is time to start looking within ourselves and library colleagues for the telltale signs of bad habits. It’s not too late to change.

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