By Meredith Farkas | October 2, 2008
Update: Just realized that our article is this month’s cover story for LJ. WOW!
I know some people really want to be named a Mover and Shaker by Library Journal. It is a great feeling to be honored like that… or at least it should be. But I think few people who have not yet been named a Mover and Shaker really think about how it might impact them at work; what their colleagues’, supervisors’ or administrators’ reactions might be. Ever since being named a Mover and Shaker myself in 2006, I’ve heard lots of stories from other honorees who’ve had negative experiences at work after being named a Mover and Shaker (though, to be fair, I’ve also heard lots of positive stories as well). For some, the award was ignored. For others, it was specific people (like their supervisor or director) who purposely ignored it. For others, it actually negatively impacted them at work because others were jealous or thought that the honoree was taking credit for all of the library’s success. One person told me their director yelled at them about it. My experience leaned towards the negative too, though it was not nearly as bad as other people’s stories. My Director forwarded an email from the Vermont Libraries listserv about it to everyone in the library with her congratulations, but no one else said a word about it to me. I ended up feeling embarrassed about it and from then on avoided mentioning anything about my book, speaking gigs, or anything else that I did outside of work. It sucked, because I felt badly, almost guilty, about something that should have left me walking on air. And lots of other people ended up feeling the same way. How can that not have some impact on the way they feel about their job?
I discussed this phenomenon with Chrystie Hill at the Mover and Shaker lunch at ALA Annual in 2007. At the blogger salon later that week, she mentioned the idea of writing something about this for Library Journal, and I said I definitely wanted in. At Internet Librarian in October, we sketched out our ideas for a survey of Movers and Shakers — not just to look at how their places of work reacted to the honor, but questions that really get at how libraries can support and motivate innovators in their organizations. We also looked at their concerns about their library and their goals for their library and themselves. In January, we sent a link to the survey out to all of the people named Movers and Shakers between 2002 and 2007 and got a 41% response rate, which was pretty great!
The fascinating responses we received became the basis for our article “What We Need” which appears in the October 1st edition of Library Journal. Through the survey, we discovered many of the critical elements that keep Movers and Shakers motivated and loving their work. We discovered what discourages them and how much actually being recognized for the good things we do really means. I hope anyone who manages people or wants to manage people in the future takes a look at this and really considers how they might be motivating or demotivating their staff. Because if the elements discussed in this article impact Movers and Shakers so profoundly, imagine the impact these elements have on your entire staff.