Learning Log 94 – Coaching Session 5

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Number: 94

Significant Experience: This was the 5th coaching session

What Happened?:   I had wanted to talk about how I was feeling mentally fatigued and strategies to improve but ended up talking about the underlying feelings driving this.

So What?: Although there wasn’t an overtly ‘challenge’ feel to the session, to me it was the most challenging – because it was focusing on how I was feeling and why I was feeling that way. It was immensely beneficial to be able to speak in confidence about how circumstances (professional uncertainty and my foot injury) have been causing my mental discomfort and the negative themes that these had been projecting – mainly around perception of failure and the lack of change, To be able to discuss these openly, have them challenged and speak about my professional journey over last few years (version 3.4!) and clarify to myself, why these thoughts were prominent was almost instantaneously a mood lifter (like waking from an afternoon nap on a hungover Sunday)

Now What?: I need to have conversations with different people to further clarify the situation which will diminish the lack of control over my own direction I have been feeling. Also I am going to more actively rehab my foot as I am a grumpy arsehole when I can’t exercise.

When & Where?: 14th March 2018, The Internet



Learning Log 93 – CILIP North West Study Day 2018

Number: 93

Significant Experience: I attended (and full disclosure hosted) CILIP North West’s Member Network Study Day: The Next Chapter: Growing your Career in Libraries.

What Happened?:  Due to weather issues, we were a little light on numbers and one presentation down but we had speakers looking at career paths and how CILIP can support your progression. Helen Kiely has produced a very excellent summary of the day and key themes, so I am going to focus on the presentation that most stuck out to me was Michelle Madden’s on her career and non-traditional career progression. I would strongly recommend catching Michelle speaking about her career path and for CILIP NW – (her presentation can be found here CILIP Log in required), especially about her perspective on key skills and characteristics

So What?: Michelle’s discussion of her career was fascinating, and I found many parallels to my own (though not as outstanding as Michelle’s!) in terms of non-traditional development and working beyond a traditional setting. In her presentation Michelle mentioned ‘luck’ numerous opportunities though I would politely disagree and frame it as bravery for taking new opportunities coupled with a love of learning! The key messages I took from Michelle were:

Doing what you love (and making it work)

The most important message I took was the importance of finding something you love doing. Having a strengths based career approach is not a given, and I am very fortunate to have been given the opportunities to follow this path like Michelle. I think this has breed passion in what I do, which is visible to others and can often serve as a motivator.

Progression Paths

Many of us have been on the receiving end of the Peter Principle – having a manager promoted beyond their ability due to what they *were* good at, rather than what they *are* good at. I suspect many of us also worry about becoming Peter (if we get the chance of course).

Should career progression be linked to increased responsibility, especially those of becoming a line manager?  Not everyone is suited to become a line manager, and it was refreshing to see development around excelling at a particular set of skills (not networking) and even if it is not always vertical progression it is good to see opportunities there.

That is not to say I would rule out a managerial position in the future. Having being a library manager in the past, my line management skills (or lack of perhaps) have weighed heavy on my career choices after that. It took a while to reflect on the fact I have strengths as a line manager – the ability to develop people who wanted to develop and that I should not hang my whole experience on my failures, without resolving my self of blame for the failure – especially if the failure has proved to be unmanageable elsewhere. An important lesson from my time as a  manager is that there are times that it is equally important to allow people to fail for the longer term benefit as it is to give people platforms to succeed.

Be the ‘Evidence Expert’ 

Knowledge was one of Michelle’s key skills. Something I have shouted from the roof tops is for librarians, especially librarians who may be in non-traditional settings such as embedded within a team or as part of an outreach offer, is the need for us to sell ourselves as the ‘evidence experts’ within that setting. Often we as a sector suffer from impostor syndrome and are afraid to stick our hand up, but something I have learnt both from personal experience and from the Knowledge for Healthcare Leadership Programme is that we need to be our biggest advocate – especially away from a traditional setting. We need to be able to sell people on what we do, why it matters to them and their work, and why we should be doing it.

Now What?: I think there is scope to examine career progression for talented Library and Information professionals who do not wish to manage to progress and succeed. I have joined the CILIP Leaders Network to see what resource is available on this beyond the walls of LKS and I may speak to a few colleagues who are in a similar situation to see what we can do.

When & Where?: 1st March 2018


Learning Log 92- Coaching Sessions 3 & 4: Making sure spoon and pen meet more often.


Number: 92

Significant Experience: This is coaching sessions 3 and 4 combined.

What Happened?:   This is an amalgamation of my previous two coaching sessions as they were both (and there has been a theme throughout) on time, productivity and how I both perceive and approach these. The second session was different as it was face to face – a new approach for both of us! There was also some lols and a chai latte, but not for me.

So What?:

The biggest lesson to come out of this is that my default approach to how I try to work (and as such use my time/be productive), is for me, unrealistic and reductive. Being brought up in a hardworking, long hours household has helped build my own concept of ‘work’ (100% effort for 100% of the time). It was not until after the first session and I began to read up on other people’s approach to productivity that I realised not everyone thought like this.

Although I cannot say I have done this every day, a lot of those days I have gone in with this being the goal and sometimes it’s been successful, more often it has not which affects me negatively. I have had periods where I have used different approaches and they have been successful but this is my natural state and It’s taken me a while to accept/understand that it is no longer realistic for me in current roles. In fact, given the mental toll this takes – both in undertaking such an approach and then dealing with the failure to reach my own pre-set standards it can be productivity-reductive. This may also go some way to explain why I keep getting injured when running…

So throughout – and between these sessions, I have begun to reflect on both this mind-set and the mind-set I feel is more natural, the mind-set I have when I am being for ‘mindful’ of my work time and the mind-set that makes me a more effective professional.

Rather than going for 100% at my best at all times (which does not work for me and I’m sure doesn’t for many people), an approach that looks after the ‘productivity pennies’ and being more mindful of my time shall increase my productivity by reducing mental fatigue (another theme of coaching!) and undue pressure on myself.

Now What?:

I am at my most effective when consistently using a productivity tool – so I shall add Pomodorio to my daily bullet journal tasks as both a prompt and reminder to use this approach that works well. I shall also continue to focus on doing work rather than the outcome of doing the work as this is often an impediment to me. These shall make me more productive and quite frankly happier.

When & Where?: February 2018. Various.


Learning Log 91 – #Fellowship5 Meeting 10

Number: 85

Significant Experience:The 10th(!) meeting of our merry band of librarian reflectors, though smaller than usual group.

What Happened?: Although there was no Action Learning Set this time, I, or more accurately, my approach to Fellowship completion was the initial focus. The group then continued its evolution from the mentor-peer set-up to the new peer support.

So What?: Although I found the experience of being the focus not always the most pleasant (in a sense of challenge) it has allowed me to refocus on what I need to get done and basically to stop messing around and get it done. It also brought up the concept of how I sell my work and my confidence when presenting and discussing it. I feel I need to reflect on this more, as I’m not sure if it is lack of confidence in the work itself or more that I’m not sure of its viability and relevance in relation to Fellowship.

Now What?: I have a clear set of goals for my next  Fellowship days and the revised completion date of April 14th.

When & Where?: February 28th 2018


Learning Log 90 – Managing your Email Webinar

Number: 90

Significant Experience: A webinar focusing on better (in terms of time) email use

What Happened?: Our team (and some of the wider department) took part in a webinar on better email management that included hints and tips on how best to effectively manage your own inbox as well as team wide agreement on best practice regarding how we operate as a team in terms of emailing.

So What?: This was opportune as I have been reflecting a lot on how effectively I use my time – and emails can be a time-sink. In any of the scenarios brought up I was not the worst offender (mass emails or email checking out of hours for example) and there wasn’t much new learning – but it did refresh and remind me of some rules I have used in previous roles that could help me use my time better in this role. It was also handy to get a grip on how and why we email-operate as a team, as it has always felt a bit loose, and I didn’t rock the boat!

Now What?: I have added the rule that only emails either directly to me or cc’d me go into my inbox. All other emails are sent directly to a folder that shall be read less frequently. I have also stopped the notifications as I was receiving alerts for the group inbox which was a constant flow of distraction. These adaptations shall lessen the opportunity for distraction and enable me to be more effective and productive with the increased concentration.

When & Where?: 14th February 2018, Desk.


Learning Log 89 – Quality, Impact and Innovation Event

Number: 89

Significant Experience: Attendance at the Public Health England Event – Quality, Impact and Innovation Event (#QIIE2018)

What Happened?:I attended (as both a note-taker and participant) the Quality, Impact and Innovation 2018 Event hosted by Public Health England.  The keynote was David Filligham (AQUA Chief Executive) talking about Becoming Quality Improvement Leaders which was very inspiring. This was followed by workshop sessions reflecting on previous QIIE award nominees based around the themes of: Quality Teams and Leadership; Quality Innovation; and Quality Progress which highlighted quality excellence across the organisation. In the afternoon, I attended an interactive masterclass on ‘Incident Investigation’ and reporting that had parallels with wider knowledge collation and sharing.

So What?:  I found this event very inspirational and interesting. I learnt about lots of best practice. It was very interesting to discover about developing quality leaders and how it matches things I have learnt about leadership development and also how incident reporting/investigation protocols are linked to wider knowledge sharing principles.

However, this event did flag up the fact that there is no natural way to share knowledge and that it is often limited to your networks and relationships and you have to search out knowledge – which mirrors something I have found within my own personal sphere.

Now What?: I am going to think about how I as a leader, can facilitate and promote quality throughout my networks and relationships

When & Where?: 6th February 2018, Birmingham


Learning Log 87 – CILIP Health and Social Care Strategy Group

Number: 87

Significant Experience: I attended the CILIP Health and Social Care Strategy Group on behalf of my organisation

What Happened?:I was very fortunate to be asked to attend the CILIP Health and Social Care Strategy Group for my organisation – the first time I had attended this meeting. I am not going to go over the minute detail as the official minutes serve that purpose – but a wide range of topics were covered – including library provision for health in Greater Manchester (both public and health library sector), the positive impact local public library services have on health agenda (and the innovation used to do so), as well as the development of social prescribing excellence and roles libraries can play.

So What?:  This was a really fantastic learning opportunity! Often, I am happily within my health librarian (even public health librarian) bubble that I pay no attention to the wider library and health agenda – be that in independent libraries or even how public libraries make a direct impact on the public’s health and wellbeing

Now What?: I’m going to reflect on my learning to see if there are any areas I want to continue to develop my understanding.

When & Where?: 9th February 2018, Manchester.