This week’s topic up for discussion is resilience. A little introduction and insight into the workshop – ‘Change is hard for everyone, so start with yourself’ – has been kindly contributed by the facilitator, Jenica Rogers. Jenica will guide participants through self-assessments about change, discuss strategies for building personal acceptance of both small and radical change, and examine some reasons why we resist the new and different. Jenica shares how a workshop about a tough subject like resilience comes together….
When discussing the details of my participation in NLS6, the symposium organising team asked that I give two workshops: one on leadership, and one on resilience. I said yes, immediately, for two different reasons. First, I’ve done leadership workshops before for librarians, and they’re fun and it’s in my wheelhouse and Yes! And second, resilience and change management are the kind of things that I think the most successful among us handle with natural aplomb, but which we *all* need, natural or no, so Yes!
Why resilience? Because the internet and its ubiquity changed the information landscape irrevocably, and libraries and librarians have entered a cycle of constant change as we learn what those changes mean for us. Because the jobs that some of us thought we’d have don’t exist anymore. Because it’s not going to slow down. And because, like death and taxes, change is inevitable. And as committed information professionals, we all want to be able to respond to change with grace, with fluidity, and with energy. Instead, many of us, and those we work with, respond to change with fear, with resistance, or with paralysis. We need less fear, in ourselves and in our libraries, and more resilience.
So for all of those reasons, I said YES! Except I’ve never delivered any formal content on resilience before. (Now what?)
The answer to “now what?” is easy: I’m an academic library administrator. When faced with an interesting challenge, I do research, and I start thinking.
On the formal learning side, I’ve been reading books, making the most of my Harvard Business Review online subscription (search for “resilience”), and scouring the web, both for library and non-library literature to inspire and inform me. One of the unexpected learning moments for me was that there are actual psychological and neurological drivers to resilience and our ability to rebound from traumatic change. On the one hand, of course there are. On the other hand, hey, neat. But what does that say about our expectation that everyone will just roll with change and come out the other side in great shape? Is the science telling us that our expectations are actually impossible? And what can we do about reconciling those two things? How do we prepare, plan, implement, and cope in meaningful ways, as leaders, coworkers, and employees when some of us are hard-wired to respond differently?
On the self-reflection side, this couldn’t have been more appropriately timed. The second half of 2012 was hard for me, professionally — I did big stuff outside my own place of work (Google Jenica Rogers and American Chemical Society), to big effect. I also stalled out at my own library, spinning my wheels while I waited to see what the impact would be of a big, looming, institutional change (Google SUNY Potsdam and systemness). At the same time, a big retirement wave culminated and now 31% of my faculty are “new” librarians. That’s a lot of change for any team, and requires serious resilience. As the Director, my responsibility is for managing it and fostering it and supporting it… not the best time for me to be feeling a bit battered, myself. So a little self-reflection about resilience and how we think about change were well-timed. It’s providing me with excellent fodder for discussion, examples, and case studies to share at the workshop!
So, I’ve learned a lot, and hope to spark some insight in those I get to talk with. Workshops are more than presentations, they’re an opportunity to engage with the professionals there “on the stage” and with our peers. To take challenging ideas and deconstruct them until we can see all the sides. To learn what’s worked for others, and to scribble down ideas about what might work for us. I hope to offer all of that to you as we talk about, learn about, and brainstorm about resilience in this workshop.
I still have four weeks left to prepare — any suggestions on aspects you’d like to see me explore before I come and share what I’ve learned? Please share in the comments.
Register now and secure your spot in Jenica’s workshop.