Category Archives: Management

Employees Accuse Google of Developing ‘Surveillance Tool’ to Prevent Unions

Source: Ryan Gallagher, Bloomberg, October 24, 2019

Google employees are accusing the company’s leadership of developing an internal surveillance tool that they believe will be used to monitor workers’ attempts to organize protests and discuss labor rights.

Earlier this month, employees said they discovered that a team within the company was creating the new tool for the custom Google Chrome browser installed on all workers’ computers and used to search internal systems. The concerns were outlined in a memo written by a Google employee and reviewed by Bloomberg News and by three Google employees who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorized to talk to the press.

The tool would automatically report staffers who create a calendar event with more than 10 rooms or 100 participants, according to the employee memo. The most likely explanation, the memo alleged, “is that this is an attempt of leadership to immediately learn about any workers organization attempts.”

Gartner: Of the 4 manager types, only 1 boosts employee performance 26%

Source: Deborah Barrington, CIO Dive, October 22, 2019

….Part of building a strong team, according to Jaime Roca, senior vice president, Gartner, during a panel at Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo, lies in the type of managers charged with the development and enrichment of employees. Roca is the co-author “The Connector Manager — Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent and Others Don’t.”

A Gartner survey of 7,000 people asked how proficient they are in their current roles on a scale of 1-7, with 1 as the lowest and 7 as the highest degree of proficiency. The bulk of respondents, 70%, rated their skills between 1-5.

That means managers, already up against productivity goals, must find time and opportunity to upskill the people who report to them.

There are four basic types of manager, said Roca on Monday:
– Teachers: Managers who develop employees’ skills based on their expertise. Expect teachers to steer employee development on a track that matches their skills and experiences.
– Cheerleaders: This style of manager takes a mostly hands off approach and offers very supportive feedback.
– Always on: Opposite of hands off. This group provides feedback and coaching constantly.
– Connectors: This is the ideal management style for developing talent. These leaders give feedback that aligns with their area of expertise. Where they stand out is in their ability to connect people who can offer strength in a variety of skills. Connectors join people on the same team, but can reach out to the broader organization or outside of the organization to match people who have complementary skills.

According to Roca, one of these types is toxic — and it likely isn’t the one most would guess. ….

Writing in Race: Evidence against Employers’ Assumptions about Race and Soft Skills

Source: Jessi Streib, Jane Rochmes, Felicia Arriaga, Carlos Tavares, Emi Weed, Social Problems, Advance Access, October 9, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Hiring managers and segments of the American public believe that white, black, and Hispanic job-seekers present distinct soft skills to employers. Sociologists have not tested this belief and provide competing theories about whether it is likely to be true. Structural theories maintain that different resources and networks inhibit racial groups from displaying similar non-technical skills and experiences, while cultural approaches posit that all groups can access and display a variety of soft skills. Based on a content analysis of 1,124 applications that white, black, and Hispanic job-seekers used to apply for the same job, we find little evidence supporting the belief in racial distinctions in soft skills. Instead, white, black, and Hispanic applicants in our sample presented the same top reasons for applying, the same top personal characteristics, the same top college activities, and were equally likely to follow professional norms. We discuss the generalizability of our findings and their implications for theories of access to these skills.

Antipolitics and the Hindrance of Performance Management in Education

Source: Jeffrey W Snyder, Andrew Saultz, Rebecca Jacobsen, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Volume 29, Issue 4, October 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Performance management reforms are a popular way to try to create responsive and improving government. These types of reforms have become commonplace in education policy and the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (JPART) has been one of the leading venues for research on these topics. However, under-analyzed are the ways in which performance management policies represent antipolitical bent to education reform. We outline an argument that avoiding political decisionmaking in favor of reforms that create authoritative or purportedly neutral data risks undertaking policy change are not as meaningful as hoped. We select eight articles that represent research on performance management broadly and are thought provoking for a broader consideration of performance management in education policy.

Cracking the Code of Sustained Collaboration

Source: Francesca Gino, Harvard Business Review, November–December 2019
(subscription required)

Ask any leader whether his or her organization values collaboration, and you’ll get a resounding yes. Ask whether the firm’s strategies to increase collaboration have been successful, and you’ll probably receive a different answer. ….

One problem is that leaders think about collaboration too narrowly: as a value to cultivate but not a skill to teach. Businesses have tried increasing it through various methods, from open offices to naming it an official corporate goal. While many of these approaches yield progress—mainly by creating opportunities for collaboration or demonstrating institutional support for it—they all try to influence employees through superficial or heavy-handed means, and research has shown that none of them reliably delivers truly robust collaboration.

The Problem with Accounting for Employees as Costs Instead of Assets

Source: Ethan Rouen, Harvard Business Review, October 17, 2019

You hear it all the time: companies touting employees as “their most valuable assets.” But under current accounting standards, that is simply false. By definition, employees are not assets since companies do not have control over them. Workers must convert raw materials – be they commodities or blank computer screens – into finished inventory to be paid, but if these workers want to quit, they can take their skills and training with them.

The distinction matters because it allows companies to hide behind platitudes and not disclose whether they invest in their workers in ways that promote long-term success. The current lack of disclosure related to employment practices prevents policy makers and investors from rewarding or punishing companies for how they actually treat their employees. Right now, there’s no universally accepted way to track the management of human capital. We need a new way to account for labor so that we can track and reward companies for how they actually treat their employees.

How the Best Bosses Interrupt Bias on Their Teams

Source: Joan C. Williams, Sky Mihaylo, Harvard Business Review, November–December 2019
(subscription required)

Companies spend millions on antibias training each year. The goal is to create workforces that are more inclusive, and thereby more innovative and more effective. Studies show that well-managed diverse groups outperform homogeneous ones and are more committed, have higher collective intelligence, and are better at making decisions and solving problems. But research also shows that bias prevention programs rarely deliver. And some companies don’t invest in them at all. So how can you, as an individual leader, make sure your team is including and making the most of diverse voices? Can one person fix what an entire organization can’t?

Although bias itself is devilishly hard to eliminate, it is not as difficult to interrupt. In the decades we’ve spent researching and advising people on how to build and manage diverse work groups, we’ve identified ways that managers can counter bias without spending a lot of time—or political capital.

The first step is to understand the four distinct ways bias plays out in everyday work interactions: (1) Prove it again: Some groups have to prove themselves more than others do. (2) Tightrope: A narrower range of behaviors is accepted from some groups than from others. (3) Maternal wall: Women with children see their commitment and competence questioned or face disapproval for being too career focused. (4) Tug-of-war: Disadvantaged groups find themselves pitted against one another because of differing strategies for assimilating—or refusing to do so.

The second step is to recognize when and where these forms of bias arise day-to-day. In the absence of an organizational directive, it’s easy to let them go unaddressed. That’s a mistake. You can’t be a great manager without becoming a bias interrupter. Here’s how to do it.

3 ways to combat gender bias in the workplace

Source: Sara Brown, MIT Sloan School of Management, October 11, 2019

Many stand to benefit when companies embrace diversity and inclusion. Women, people from different perspectives, and people of color challenge cognitive biases, prompting higher quality ideas and innovation, according to MIT Sloan senior lecturer and research scientist Renée Richardson Gosline. Women also score higher than men on 17 of the 19 most important leadership skills, according to a recent study.

While some companies focus on creating inclusive practices, women continue to battle bias as they navigate their careers. Doing so while becoming a strong leader isn’t easy, according to three business execs who shared their experiences at the recent MIT Sloan Global Women’s Symposium. What have they learned along the way? Learn to say no, get comfortable talking about uncomfortable topics, and help others coming up behind you.

Labor in Academic Libraries

Source: Emily Drabinski, Aliqae Geraci, and Roxanne Shirazi, Issue Editors, Library Trends, Volume 68, Number 2, Fall 2019

Articles Include:
Participatory and Ethical Strategic Planning: What Academic Libraries Can Learn from Critical Management Studies
Danya Leebaw

Abstract:
This paper introduces a subfield of management studies, “critical management studies” (CMS) in order to rethink mainstream management practices in academic libraries, with strategic planning as an illustrative example. Mainstream management models from the corporate sector prioritize efficiency, productivity, and numerical measures for assessing impact. Academic libraries have generally borrowed uncritically from this mainstream management praxis, but how well does this serve our needs, especially when it comes to the most complex issues we face? CMS draws on critical theory to interrogate the methods and goals of mainstream management, with an emphasis on denaturalizing “taken for granted” practices and prioritizing ethics and worker equity. After providing a brief overview of the history and adoption of mainstream management in academic libraries, this paper focuses on strategic planning as an illustrative exploration of CMS principles in an academic library context. Strategic planning is a common managerial practice that has been embraced by academic libraries and generally modeled after mainstream approaches. Yet, CMS scholars contend that traditional strategic planning reproduces workplace inequities and universalizes managerial interests. In this article, I employ ideas from CMS to rethink library strategic planning by opening participation, reframing problems, and embracing our ethical agency.

“Being in Time”: New Public Management, Academic Librarians, and the Temporal Labor of Pink-Collar Public Service Work
Karen P. Nicholson

Abstract:
Time is a site of power, one that enacts particular subjectivities and relationships. In the workplace, time enables and constrains performance, attitudes, and behaviors. In this qualitative research study, I examine the impact of the values and practices of new public management on academic librarians’ experiences of time when engaged in pink-collar public service (reference and information literacy) work. Data gathered during semi-structured interviews with twenty-four public service librarians in Canadian public research-intensive universities, members of the U15 Group, serve as a site of analysis for this study. Interview data were first analyzed using thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke 2006) within a constructionist framework. Sharma’s (2014) theory of power-chronography—time as power—was then used as an analytical framework. Findings suggest that, in keeping with research on the temporal experiences of faculty, academic librarians’ temporal labor is structured and controlled by the logics and institutional arrangements of new public management. Moreover, like their faculty counterparts, academic librarians experience temporal intensification and acceleration. However, as marginal educators and members of a feminized profession, librarians also encounter “recalibration” (Sharma 2014), the need to modify the tempo of their own labor to be “in time” with the dominant temporalities of faculty and students.

“The Power of Knowledge, Objectified”: Immaterial Labor, Cognitive Capitalism, and Academic Librarianship
Sam Popowich

Abstract:
This article analyzes current trends in academic librarianship from the perspective of Italian autonomist Marxism. With the rise of new technologies and the advent of a period variously called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” “Industry 4.0,” and “The Second Machine Age,” academic librarianship is undergoing various changes in work-flow, technology, and service provision. The body of thought that developed out of the Italian Marxist tradition provides ways of thinking through and understanding these changes by placing them within a larger dynamic of capitalist development and the restructuring of labor processes. After looking at changes to academic librarianship from the perspective of immaterial labor and cognitive capitalism, the paper offers ways that academic librarianship can think about the possibility of resistance to these changes.

Low Morale in Ethnic and Racial Minority Academic Librarians: An Experiential Study
Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, Ione T. Damasco

Abstract:
Library and information science (LIS) literature about workplace bullying and burnout in academic libraries continues to grow, and a recent study has revealed the experience of low morale in the same environment. Concomitantly, research focusing on continuing recruitment, promotion, advancement, and retention problems for ethnic and minority librarians; links between North American library values and workplace abuse; and historiographies on the historic marginalization of minority librarians has also appeared in LIS literature. Citing aforementioned developments in LIS literature and the racially homogenous participant make-up of Kendrick’s 2017 study of low morale in academic libraries, this follow-up qualitative study focuses on racial and ethnic minority academic librarians to understand this group’s experience of low morale. Emerging data validate the development, trajectory, and health-related consequences of low morale; center the load of additional impact factors; and highlight the impact of low morale on recruitment and retention efforts of racial and ethnic minority librarians employed in North American colleges and universities.

Reconsidering Technical Labor in Information Institutions: The Case of Analog Video Digitization
Zack Lischer-Katz

Abstract:
Technical labor is still typically made invisible in the functioning of academic libraries and other information institutions even as they begin to disseminate technical and craft knowledge through makerspaces and other sites of library innovation. This paper seeks to recover one type of technical labor, digitization, as information work that embodies mental and manual activities and is both materially and intellectually productive. This paper draws on findings from an empirical study conducted by the author from 2015–2017 that used qualitative-interpretive methods to study the discursive and material practices of professional media preservationists as they worked to digitize analog video recordings in small-scale, high-quality (“artisanal”) digitization projects. One key finding of this research is that in order to produce “legitimate” digital copies within their institutional contexts, media preservationists must coordinate their physical and mental activities to develop understanding of the invisible electrical signals that carry the encoded video information, blending objective and subjective modalities of knowledge. These findings have implications for understanding how the invisible labor of digitization has significant mental as well as manual dimensions, contributing to ongoing debates in information studies and the digital humanities on the relationship between “doing” and “signifying” in terms of knowledge work.

Empty Presence: Library Labor, Prestige, and the MLS
Maura Seale, Rafia Mirza

Abstract:
In this essay, we explore the relationship between the MLS and professionalization within librarianship broadly and then look more specifically at academic librarianship, which increasingly turns to other means of professionalization, such as more prestigious forms of credentialing, due to its precarious existence within higher education. The emphasis on professionalization through credentialing invisibilizes library labor, which is already feminized and devalued. Academic librarianship instead seeks to gain prestige and power by associating itself with whiteness and masculinity, rendering its specialized work and knowledge domain unimportant. Removing the MLS requirement from professional library positions will not address these broader issues, and as hiring trends demonstrate, might already be a moot point. Prestige, professionalization, and credentialing within academic librarianship have been debated since the inception of the profession; the interaction of these with gender ideologies and a predominantly female workforce has received attention since the 1970s. Librarianship’s constant state of crisis and search for external markers of prestige can only exist comfortably outside of historical memory and critical analysis, however. This essay problematizes individual solutions such as credentialing that paper over systemic sociopolitical issues; specific solutions are beyond the scope of this paper, but we do suggest that solutions need to account for broader context, such as current and historical gender ideologies.

Scope of Work, Roles, and Responsibilities for Academic Librarians: Tenure-Track vs. Non-Tenure-Track Professionals
Eric Hartnett, Wendi Arant-Kaspar, Wyoma vanDuinkerken

Abstract:
The purpose of this multi-institutional study is to determine how many academic libraries have chosen to institute a two-track system for their librarians: tenure-track faculty and non-tenure-track faculty. It will approach this inquiry in a two-fold manner, first with a survey questionnaire sent to library deans or directors of research libraries and then with the collection and analysis of formal policy documents from these libraries defining the expectations and work of librarians on the two tracks. This study will highlight how these tracks are distinctive in terms of the scope of work, workload, and other related factors and the implications for the development of the profession. Results of this study will add to recent research and perceptions of librarianship and higher education by providing an understanding of how these factors influence the organizational culture of academic libraries.

Librarians in the Academic Ecosystem
Rachel Applegate

Abstract:
Much of what academic librarians do does not look like what “faculty” do—classic, stereotypical, tenure-track, classroom faculty. Instead, it looks like support work, or administration, or is invisible: all things that are distinctly not valued by classic faculty. Much of the research in library literature, the talk among academic librarians themselves, seems to center on benefits and privileges, and the distinctions are not based on faculty vs. librarian status but on other factors; for example, salaries for librarians, as for economists, English faculty and nursing instructors are mostly set by discipline and market conditions. It will be more productive for librarians to take a political and strategic perspective: with one overarching realization, and one focused goal. The realization is that the “faculty” role is itself diverse: it is not classic nor stereotyped nor even “classroom” in many cases. The variation within the group “faculty” is in many respects more significant than the variation between the groups “faculty” and “librarians.” The focused goal is to seek the status that will place librarians in the decisions of which they should be part.

From Slavery to College Loans
kynita stringer-stanback

Abstract:
My story begins back in 1793 when November Caldwell was “gifted” to Helen Hogg Hooper (whose father-in-law, William Hooper, signed the Declaration of Independence), the wife of the first president of UNC–Chapel Hill, Joseph Caldwell. November Caldwell is my great-great-great-grandfather. Currently, I owe over six figures in student-loan debt to the very institution that enslaved my ancestors. We are at a particular place in the political history of our nation. White supremacy is morally corrupt. It requires that we deny the humanity of human beings for one reason or another. It is hard to stand up against white supremacy because folks who do are often ostracized from their families and communities. We have all been socialized to believe in white supremacy—it was one of our nation’s founding principles. In this essay I hope to break open a dialogue about the white supremacist hegemony institutionalized within our neoliberal university system. Connecting the past atrocities of slavery with actual educational experiences of the descendants of those who served the proslavery institutions has not been widely publicized or talked about. We must interrogate our history or we will be doomed to continue to repeat the horrific inhumane atrocities.

Lessons from the Field: Organizing a Faculty Union in the Era of Janus
Kelly McElroy

Abstract:
On June 27, 2018, the Oregon Employment Relations Board certified United Academics of Oregon State University (UAOSU) as the sole bargaining unit to represent teaching and research faculty of our university. On the same day, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 31. In this personal narrative, I will describe our organizing campaign, considering our success in the light of Janus. I conclude with reflections on how what I have learned from organizing continues to shape my work as an academic librarian.

Democratizing the Union at UC Berkeley: Lecturers and Librarians in Solidarity
Margaret Phillips, David Eifler, Tiffany Linton Page

Abstract:
This article explores how librarians and lecturers at the University of California, Berkeley, worked together to make their union more participatory in a context of increasing corporatization in public higher education. Written as a case study, we examine this ongoing revitalization process initiated by lecturers in the summer of 2016 and how it transformed librarian activism and bargaining strategy. For context, we also examine the history and unique nature of the University Council–American Federation of Teachers, the union representing both librarians and lecturers. We discuss why librarians had become ambivalent about their union and how an active group of librarians changed the culture in the organization and worked to bring members’ voices into the 2018/2019 librarian contract negotiations. Engaging membership and encouraging participation required a group of committed organizers, with the support of paid union staff, to actively seek feedback from members, to communicate regularly, and to organize solidarity events. Throughout this process, the local worked to build coalitions with other campus unions, and members became increasingly aware of the important role unions play in protecting and advancing the mission of a public university and as a site for social justice activism.

Helping Employees Speak Up

Source: Larry Johnson, Government Finance Review, May 2019

…. The question for all managers is how to make sure their employees aren’t afraid to tell them what they need to know. There are three critical things a manager can do to encourage honest feedback from subordinates:

1. Make It Clear that You Want the Feedback.
Let people know — repeatedly — that you are not perfect and you expect them to help you make the best decisions possible, so any help they can offer will be appreciated, especially if they see you about to do something stupid.

2. Don’t Be Defensive.
When someone gives you this kind of feedback, control your defensiveness. None of us like to be criticized, and it’s easy to argue and even respond with hostility when a subordinate suggests there might be another, better, approach. You aren’t going to agree to something you know to be wrong — you just need to listen openly to the incoming information.

3. Thank the Employee — and Mean It.
Whether or not you take the advice the subordinate offers, be sure to thank her and express your appreciation for bringing the matter to your attention. Reinforced behavior tends to get repeated, so if you want people to give you more feedback, reward them for doing so…..