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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:

"A.S.E. Fairfax" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

A.S.E. Fairfax

Date:

Thu, 13 Jul 2006 12:07:33 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (88 lines)

While I agree that staff morale has much to do with sincerity, a figurative
"pat on the head" by someone who knows little about what I do in words such
as "good job" make me see red. Of course I do a good job.  In fact some days
I'm excellent! I'd rather have a raise. Just call me the curmudgeon.

Elizabeth Fairfax

-----Original Message-----
From: Carole Prietto [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2006 7:22 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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