Report: The Renewal Workshop at the NCLA Conference (October 2019)

Last week I facilitated a Renewal Workshop at the North Carolina Library Association’s Conference in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The workshop was sponsored by NCLA’s Roundtable for Ethnic and Minority Concerns (REMCo), and I am thankful for their support. 

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Twelve folks (the maximum registrant limit for this event) registered, and there was a short waiting list; ultimately, eleven people attended the Workshop. Attendees represented a mix of public and academic libraries, and a range of specialties.  Workshop attendees are offered an opportunity to take two surveys: 

  • Pre-Workshop 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 workshop, I also circulated a evaluation form and aggregated attendee feedback. Following is a selection of data from the workshop (quantitative queries show majority responses only)

NOTE: This workshop was three hours; four hours is the standard time for a Renewal Workshop.

Pre-Workshop Questionnaire Highlights

  • Attendee Library Type
    • 66% Academic library
  • Represented areas of practice
    • 44% Administration
  • Career length
    • 50% 10 years or more
  • Goals for attending the Workshop
    • “How to integrate efforts/actions that will lead to a decrease in low morale among my colleagues into everyday practice.”
    • “I would like to make our library an environment where our employees feel supported and engaged.”
    • “Ability to better recognize low morale in my colleagues, particularly my managers.”
    • “To help identify what low morale looks like and how to educate my co-workers and friends; to raise awareness.”

 Low-Morale Experience Survey Highlights 

  • Length of low-morale experience
    • TIE: 40% 1 – 3 years; more than three years
  • Perpetrators of abuse
    • 80% Library supervisor(s) or manager(s)
    • TIE: 50% Library administrators; Library colleagues
  • Types of workplace abuse experienced:
    • 90% Emotional
    • 70% Verbal/written
    • 50% Negligence
  • Feelings experienced during low morale:
    • TIE: 90% Anger;  Frustration
    • TIE: 70% Disillusion; Sadness; Depression; Worry
    • 60% Shame
    • TIE: 50% Skepticism; Despair
  • What contributed to low-morale experience?
    • 80% Leadership styles
    • 60% Uncertainty/Mistrust
    • 50% Library/Librarian Perceptions
  • Behaviors noted/considered:
    • 90% A desire to change careers
    • TIE: 70% A decrease in professional engagement; Decreased willingness to collaborate
    • 50% Increased procrastination

Workshop Evaluation Report Highlights

Topics recommended for discussion/consideration:

“More time for audience contributions and discussion; what supervisor actions they can take.”

“Everything was addressed perfectly.”

Things learned or more clearly defined:

“I was able to give specific terms to what I had experienced.”

“The importance of self-preservation; I never considered this.”

“Different forms of leadership that lead to the LME – helped me recognize behaviors in my leaders and in myself.”

Recovery plans (personally or at work):

“I need to recognize that I am human and I may never get over my dealings with low morale, but I can work to get closer to a positive recovery.”

“I am seriously considering a career change. For now, I continue to read, draw, and attempt to enjoy my life as much as possible. I continue to hope the toxic leader will move on to another place – or better yet – learn how to lead and not abuse employees.”

“Do some more reading based on your resources, talk more, set better boundaries, have better language to describe what is happening.”

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

“Not being afraid to confront or address issues.”

“Share some of what I’ve learned, recognize others for their efforts, find out more the Employee Assistance Program so I can share it with co-workers who need it.”

“Oh my goodness … so many good thoughts/ideas were shared. I just need to figure out where to start.”

Other comments:

“Awesome workshop and very helpful!”

“This was so incredibly amazing & helpful!”

Thanks to the attendees who were engaged, courageous, and motivated to participate in the Workshop, and many thanks also to Jewel Davis, NCLA REMCo chair, who helped ensure this Workshop was offered to our colleagues.

Ready to host a Renewal Workshop? Let’s plan your event!.


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