A Holiday Gift List For Leaders, Presidents, Boards and Museum Staff
Dzaky Adinata - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=93698541
In many cultures worldwide, winter is a time for gift giving. In that spirit, here are a dozen things museum leadership can give their staffs apart from a holiday party.
According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only one in five U.S. workers has sick leave. Part-time workers are least likely to be offered sick leave, while union members are more likely. Do your staff--all of them--have the agency to take care of themselves or a loved one while also getting paid? Give the gift of personal time.
When things go wrong at work, do you have colleagues--inside or outside your workplace-- you can really talk to? Who do you download to, dirt and all? Find them, online or in real life, and your staff or team will thank you. We all need space to download. Give yourself the gift of your own personal posse.
Is your staff happy? How do you know if you're not listening? Have coffee with a different group of staff every month, and give the gift of listening.
Has your organization done an equity pay audit? Unconscious bias doesn't just plague people we don't like. We all have it. Give your staff the gift of equitable pay.
For leaders and for followers: give the gift of not rushing in. If you're angry, especially if you're really angry, press pause. Dial it back. Separate your personal anger and hurt over whatever happened, and approach your staff member or colleague when you've sorted things out.
Give the gift of respect: Most humans try to do their best. Approach problems as if your staff meant well. Sorting out what went wrong will be easier.
Do you and your staff have an HR policy? Is it easily accessed and clear to navigate? Give your staff a path to resolution for workplace problems.
A frantically busy staff isn't always a creative staff, and spitting out to-do lists isn't the mark of good leadership. Time is precious. Acknowledge it, and give your staff time to think.
Good leaders are empathizers. Give your staff, colleagues and board the gift of empathy. Hopefully, it will come right back at you.
Transparency is inclusive. Give your staff the gift of shared information. You don't need to have all the answers, but build trust by sharing what you know.
Do you muddle kindness with inequity? You let staff member "A" leave early because their relative has weekly appointments, but say no to staff member "B" who can't make their after-work class without leaving early. Give the gift of equitable policy making and abide by it.
We are all flawed, fallible humans. Some days we get the bear, others the bear gets us. Don't let past mistakes imprison staff or you. We all need the opportunity to try again and succeed. Take the proffered apology and move forward. Give yourself and others the gift of acceptance.
Above all, be kind. That doesn't mean being mushy or losing your principles, it just means being kind. Remember to use "Yes, and.." and also "How can I help?" Who knows, maybe you and your colleagues will reframe leadership in 2023?
Be well, do good work, enjoy family and friends, and I'll see you in January.