More and more lately I’m hearing stories about Emerging Museum Professionals in high level administrative positions. Oftentimes they’ve worked part-time or in lower level education or collections positions, and this may be their first full-time position in a museum. How do you handle that learning curve, when coupled with the responsibilities of being a director?
I’ve seen some good advice posted for people in these situations, and I thought I’d share some of them here.
- Administrators are also responsible for their employee’s welfare, not simply the machinations of running the museum. Treat them well. Fair. The rewards are a team…with luck.
- Don’t ask your employees/volunteers to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.
- One of the hardest things you’ll learn how to do is prioritize. There are great ideas out there, and an endless list of what you might be able to accomplish. You can’t do it all though, and figuring out what’s most important is a skill that needs to be intentionally developed.
- Always react calmly and with grace, even if it means taking a few breaths.
- There was an awesome interview on NPR with a woman who studies effective management. She said the thing that employees want more than anything is autonomy. They’ll take more money and praise, but they need to feel like they are in charge of some part of their own universe. She also said how imperative trust is, that once it is lost, a manager pretty much never gets it back. This extends to something that is a “perceived lie”—eg: you went to bat to get your employee a raise, you tell the employee the good news, but it won’t start until the next fiscal year, the economy changes and you have to rescind—-creates distrust. When your group does great work, praise your group, the glow will shine on you without you even saying so. These were all her ideas.
Please feel free to post your advice or any resources you’ve come across that might be relevant!