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It's January: A Natural Time to Change-up Your Museum Career

its-time
  1. If you don't already have a standing appointment with your boss, make one.

  2. Outline your day, hour-to-hour, and quantify percentages so you (and your boss) can see how much of your time is spent on what.

  3. Talk about prioritizing. Maybe you do a lot of nice things--maybe you're the person who cleans out the volunteer break room or restocks the education space--and it's nice, but you're underutilized. You do it because others don't, but it means you're not doing things nearer and dear to your heart or your job description. And if you're underutilized, you may be busy, but you're likely not happy or challenged.

  4. Evaluate whether you're reactive or proactive. Talk with your boss about how that could or should change. Own your goals and push for them. And if you're a leader, think about:

  5. How you communicate. Are tasks poorly executed because what staff heard was mushy and confusing? Do you ever ask "Did I explain that well enough?"

  6. Listen to your staff. Watch for signs of distress. Is one job full of responsibility but no authority? Does everything have to be checked with a higher power--like you? Are other staff showing signs of boredom? Are deadlines met in five seconds?

  7. Check-in often. Remember, check-ins don't have to be formal. You can check-in in the hall or an office doorway, but they need to be meaningful. You need to have the time to focus and remember what your last conversation was about.

  8. Set deadlines and keep them. Is there a sense they matter because it will take your staff about a nanosecond to realize if deadlines don't matter to you, they don't need to matter to them.

  9. Know whether your staff is challenged or not. A recent study by Salary.com showed that more than 50-percent of employees were either not challenged or bored at work so ask yourself whether you really know what's going on. Work can't be a bowl of cherries every day, but presumably many of us picked the museum field because we love it. We love collections or collections care or exhibition design or research or brilliant social media or school groups. In a world where development departments work double time nobody should be bored, unchallenged or feel they can't move forward on a given project because they don't have the autonomy. It's January and a natural time for change. Make some. Start today. Joan Baldwin

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