I’ve had several jobs in my adult life on a number of organizational levels, including being a supervisor or manager. My employment has not always been in library organizations, but I have found that organizational leadership does not vary significantly between different kinds of businesses. One of the most critical tasks of management is hiring the right people. Especially in service organizations like libraries or library service agencies, our most valuable asset is personnel. The principal of matching needs of the organization with desirable characteristics of the applicants is very much the same no matter what industry I’ve been in.
During the same time I am currently looking to fill a vacancy in the workgroup I supervise, I am also a peripheral participant in finding a new clergy leader for my church. Our affiliated synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has a blueprint for approaching the task. A particularly useful tool in the ELCA process is the worksheet the church is using in its mandated “Self Study” ministry assessment. The worksheet has four columns, one which lists ministries of the church. The other three columns are filled in by each member, then compiled into a profile by the call committee. In one column, the congregation identifies the priority of the skill for each area of ministry desired in the new hire, in the second column the skill level needed for each area of ministry, and the third column the four ministry areas of most need.
I suggest this process would be useful in a library agency, substituting the word “service” for “ministry”. Evaluating the resumes of applicants through the lense of the profile will magnify the strengths of the candidates in relation to the needs of the organization and aid us in finding the best fit.
Making the best fit for both the organization and the potential employee is critical for good service to our member libraries. It is also important hire a team member who will complement and complete our existing service team and a matter of good management, since hiring and training is a considerable investment in both time and money.