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ARCHIVES Home

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ARCHIVES  July 2006, Week 2

ARCHIVES July 2006, Week 2

Subject:

Re: Improving staff morale

From:

"D'Avanza, Mia" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

D'Avanza, Mia

Date:

Thu, 13 Jul 2006 10:39:37 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (88 lines)

Thanks for some very keen observations, Carole.  
Sometimes your current support staff are working towards their MLIS and will remember the disparity, or lack thereof, when they are themselves an archivist with people to supervise. So you can set a good example by "walking the walk."

Sincerity really IS key.  Everyone can tell when you are using rote "compliment sandwich" kinds of techniques, and just throwing out something that sounds like praise but is a backhanded criticism.  If more people in every field were to just say "Good job" (when applicable) a little more often I think it would make a world of difference.

Mia D'Avanza

 


-----Original Message-----
From: Archives & Archivists [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Carole Prietto
Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2006 10:22 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Improving staff morale

> Interesting discussion on improving staff morale
> I've been reading lately. I think one thing that's
> important to point out, however, is the fact that
> any gift/gesture of appreciation that is given
> to recognize your employees should have some
> measure of sincereity and genuine sentiment
> attached to it.

I couldn't agree more. I would add that how you treat the staff on a day
to day basis makes a ton of difference as well. Little things add up -
things like "please" and "thank you" and "good work" (all these things
said, of course, with sincerity). Recognize good work in front of peers
and researchers. Recognize good work in your reports to the higher-ups.
You get the picture.

Space and equipment, too, make more of a difference in staff morale than
we may realize. Are the staff, the ones doing the front line work, forced
to make do with hand-me-down computers while the supervisor always gets
the latest and greatest?  Are the staff chairs and desks comfortable and
attractive, or is that reserved for the supervisor? That kind of thing
will get under the skin of support staff more than they will ever admit
and they don't have to cost a lot of money to fix. I recently got promoted
to being the head of the Archives here at the Daughters of Charity, and
the first thing I addressed was, believe it or not, office chairs. Why?
Because two people on our staff had been working for years with chairs
that were practically collapsing under them, they were so beat up. I went
to my supervisor and asked if there were money available to fix that.
There was, and so I bought two new chairs from Office Depot - basic,
attractive, functional, ergomonic, and tons more comfortable. One of these
staff people had gone months with no printer at her desk. Bought one of
those, too. Total cost for all this: $300. Improvement in the staff
morale: Priceless. Just yesterday these two staff people were talking
about how much they were enjoying their new chairs. At my former
institution, Washington University, I had the opportunity to design a new
Archives space, and I made sure that my assistant had the same office
setup as I did. No relegating the assistant to a cubicle while I gave
myself a palace, a practice I had seen a lot at the WU Library. Both of us
had offices with the same square footage (12ft x 10ft) and the the same
furniture. It's easy to pay lip service to the idea that the support staff
are an important  part of the operation. What they will see, though, is
what we do to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Carole Prietto
Provincial Archivist
Daughters of Charity West Central Province
St. Louis

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A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, www.archivists.org.
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