Report: The Renewal Seminar at the University of Georgia (May 2019)

Last week I facilitated a Renewal Seminar at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. The workshop was sponsored by UGA Libraries’ Professional Development and Research Committee (thanks to Benjamin Davis, who coordinated event logistics). 


Twenty people registered, and there was a short waiting list. Eighteen people attended the seminar. Attendees represented a range of specialties across the UGA Libraries’.  Seminar attendees are offered an opportunity to take two surveys: 

  • Pre-Seminar Questionnaire (basic demographics and impetus for joining the Workshop)
  • Low-Morale Experience Survey (exploring basic markers of a low-morale experience)

At the end of the Seminar, attendees were offered a chance to evaluation the event. Following is a selection of aggregated data from the seminar (quantitative queries show majority responses only)

Pre-Seminar Questionnaire Highlights

  • Represented areas of practice
    • 58% Reference and Instruction
  • Career length
    • 79% 10 years or more
  • Goals for attending the Workshop
    • “How to help colleagues/people I supervise handle their own low morale due to reasons outside my control (low salaries, bullying by a former supervisor, etc.)”
    • “I view low morale as a barrier to recruitment, so I would like to help people see the positives in their jobs and feel good about the organization, so as to encourage others to join us.”
    • “I hope I can learn to renew my passion for the work in the long middle stretch of my career.”
    • “How to productively and kindly handle conversations where people are sharing frustrations, which can have a tendency to make everyone feel more negative without resulting in any positive change.”

 Low-Morale Experience Survey Highlights 

  • Length of low-morale experience
    • 38% 1 – 3 years; more than three years
  • Perpetrators of abuse
    • 69% Library supervisor(s) or manager(s)
    • TIE: 50% Library administrators; Library colleagues
  • Types of workplace abuse experienced:
    • 85% Negligence
    • 54% Emotional
  • Feelings experienced during low morale:
    • TIE: 90% Anger;  Disillusion
    • 61% Worry
    • TIE: 54% Sadness; Depression; Skepticism
  • What contributed to low-morale experience?
    • 84% Leadership styles
    • 77% Uncertainty/Mistrust
  • Behaviors noted/considered:
    • 82% Increased procrastination
    • TIE: 72% A decrease in professional engagement; A desire to change careers
    • 55% Decrease in work productivity

Workshop Evaluation Report Highlights

Topics recommended for discussion/consideration:

“More about neglect.”

“Even more exercises on actively combating low morale – strategies for overcoming.”

Things learned or more clearly defined:

“Shame screens – this activity was really helpful.”

“How to cope better and recognize negative behaviors.”

“Job ushering, anti-stalking, and shame as a motivation for abusive behaviors.”

“Other people have similar experiences! Even here.”

Recovery plans (personally or at work):

“Prepare for and have difficult conversations.”

“Don’t take things personally.”

“Self-care and developing outside publishing opportunities.”

Formal/informal leadership behaviors that will be applied to reduce/remove low morale at work:

“Assertive speaking.”

“More vulnerability.”

“Modeling behavior and setting standards. This was wonderful – I would have loved an even longer workshop!”

Thanks to the attendees who participated in the Seminar and to La Loria Konata, who assisted with on-site preparation.

Ready to host a Renewal Seminar? Contact me for a customized prospectus.


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