Tuesday, 9 December 2014

2014: Ups and downs

Hanging in there!
Image by SvartaBaskern
The end of 2014 is fast approaching and this leads me to reflect on any new skills and competencies I’ve developed this year. ..

  • The college in which I work has undergone mass restructuring this Summer, and a new staffing structure has been implemented in the library. (I didn't add any posts to BtB during this time of uncertainty as I feared they may be wholly negative in tone.) In order to maintain a balanced equilibrium, I have focussed on how I adapt to change. Regarding this, I found ‘Who moved my cheese?’ by Spencer Johnson to be a useful and light-hearted book. It made me realise that change is a normal part of life and it is our attitude which determines if it is a positive or negative change. I have also revisited the Pacific Institute course I undertook on positive self-awareness psychology.

  • My job is now a shared role between two colleges. This is not without challenges, and I find organisational and prioritising skills are crucial if I am to successfully tackle the increased workload. I was interviewed for my own job and although this is not unheard of these days, I found it quite worrying at the time. The two libraries have very different cultures and adjusting to this is quite the balancing act!
  • Working in two colleges has also meant adopting a different working pattern. I now utilise technology more to enable flexible working, as I’m never sure which site I’ll be needed at. Remote access working is very useful! I have also acquired a work’s laptop, which I sometimes use to work from home in the evenings.
  • I’ve completed a management qualification, and along with the absence of a full time head of department in the library, my management skills have been exercised more. Collectively, between the two college libraries, there are 8.66 FTE assistants and I find I am being sought out more and more for staffing issues.
  • This year I presented at external events for the first time. I had always fancied trying my hand at this but (being held back by a lack of confidence) made no move towards it until my line manager encouraged me to do so. My voice was audibly nervous and shaky during my first presentation but this decreased with each one. I enjoy interacting with the audience and if I do another one, would consider including an element of audience participation. One of my presentations was facilitated via a webinar and it was interesting to note the ways in which this differed to presenting in person. Overall, I gave six presentations this year, as listed on the presentations tab of BtB.
My low points of the year include:
  • Being at risk of redundancy resulted in several months of worry. Say no more. (Otherwise I'l sound like a broken record!)
  • A particular member of the library team moved on to new employment, and at times I really feel his absence. In general, I felt we worked together well as a team with complementary interests / skills. He pushed and encouraged me to do new things and as a result I learned various new competencies. In that respect, I have a lot to be thankful for.
  • Finally plucking up enough courage to go live with the migration to a new LMS, only for 'something' on the network to interfere and cause severe slowness. Grrrr!  
My highlights of the year include:
  • Attending my first library conference. I was very nervous about this but it was an amazing experience. I learned so much and enjoyed every moment. 
  • Having an article published in CILIP Update magazine. This was something I'd long wanted to do, but didn't think I'd ever reach the required standard. 
  • Being nominated for employee of the year in July. I made it into the final ten, and in an organisation of approximately 600 staff I was more than pleased with this! It was particularly poignant as I found out about the nomination the same week I was told I was officially at risk of redundancy.
  • And - the obvious one! - keeping my job was a highlight of the year. FE colleges have been hit with funding cutbacks and as a result, redundancies have been common throughout the sector recently. I feel for those who have lost their jobs.
Looking back, 2014 has been a challenging year, but I’m hanging in there! Let’s see what 2015 has in store. I submitted my chartership revalidation portfolio in November, so hopefully that'll bring good news in the not-too-distant future...

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