or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk



Different Kinds of Staff

   March 5th, 2009

chess gameThe serious stuff first:
We've been reviewing and updating all of my library's policies for the last few weeks, so I've got policy v. procedure on the brain. Because of that, it occurred to me this week that most library staff can be grouped into two types: "policy" staff and "procedure" staff.

  • Policy staff - like to be given broad goals, not explicit directions. This is an asset in that they take initiative and can be innovative
  • Procedure staff - like to be given explicit directions, and will follow and enforce limits and rules like a checklist. This is an asset because they are consistent and treat everyone the same

Neither type of employee is better or worse than the other, just different. Managers (and coworkers) can be more effective at their jobs if they identify staff's needs and strengths and play to or accommodate them. I know this isn't some huge insight, but I had never noticed the parallel between work habits and policy/procedure before.

The jokes second:
Here are my favorite "There are X kinds of people in the world" jokes:

  • There are 3 kinds of people in the world: those who can count and those who can't
  • There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't

Ah, yes - bad jokes makes the web go 'round.




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2 Responses to “Different Kinds of Staff”

  1. links for 2009-03-07 « Just Browsing Says:

    [...] Different Kinds of Staff :: Brian Herzog Very short post that clearly explains two different kinds of people – policy staff and procedure staff. Actually even easier to understand than all those convoluted personality profiles. (tags: advice managing blog) [...]

  2. Choosing the Right Knife Set For Your Needs Says:

    [...] Swiss Army Librarian » Different Kinds of Staff :: Brian Herzog [...]