In September I did just under two weeks of temporary work in Oxford, working on a reclassification project at the Bodleian. Although I was only there for a couple of weeks, I learnt a lot from the experience. It was a contracted out project, something which I hadn’t done before, so a lot of it, such as management style, was new to me.
Since I’ve not had experience of a managerial position, I found reflecting on the experience valuable in helping build and shape my own management style for the future.
You don’t need to tell people the whole grand scheme. Although context for project work is useful, it is more important to those doing the work to know what task to be getting on with right now.
Avoid patronising tones, even when they’ve done something wrong. I made quite a few mistakes, so I definitely understand that people can do things wrong, but being (perhaps unintentionally) patronising makes people defensive.
Anxiety in a leader will communicate across to the team. Sometimes a manager will need to get away from the rest of the team to think things through and work out kinks without expressing any anxiety to the team members.
When trying to meet productivity percentages and targets, people can be inclined to skip breaks. In the end this is less productive! This is also something I’m experiencing with my new job (blog posts about that to follow!). It’s important for managers to be aware of the workload of their team. I found that, with an emphasis on meeting targets, and productivity percentages influencing pay, there can be a higher inclination to skip a break to get the work done.
Training needs to match the task in hand. The timing of training can be important. For example, in-depth information about reclassification software isn’t as useful right at the start, rather it should come with a chance to do it yourself. Appropriate training for the task is also crucial. I have taken for granted the manual handling and shelving training I have received in the past. A lack of manual handling or shelving training is perhaps in the nature of temporary or contractual work – if anyone has any knowledge or opinions about this, I’d be very interested to hear it.
The most valuable thing about this work was actually to get me used to getting up early, which prepared me for starting my new job with a longer commute!