[Part 1 of a multiple-installment series of not-yet determined length.]
Have you ever had a professionally satisfying work day? I don’t mean a good work day, either. Not the kind of day when a co-worker brings in delicious homemade brownies. Nor do I mean the kind of day when you don’t receive a phone call or email for over an hour. I mean a truly professionally satisfying work day. The kind of day that reconfirms that your job or this profession is best suited for your strengths and skills. If you haven’t ever, then maybe you need to reevaluate something. Or, maybe you have and just don’t recognize it. I had a day like this recently, and it was glorious. It made such an impact on me that I felt compelled to write about it. Many people in our profession, me included, seem to be constantly striving to improve our skills and learn through professional development. As crucial as that is to our work life success, I feel that it’s also important to have a sense of pride and accomplishment of what one does know.
Here are two examples from my special day that might help you relate to this sense of professional satisfaction. As an employee of an Am Law 100 firm, I’m not at liberty to provide very specific descriptions. However, even my generalizations should be applicable to most info pro workplaces.
- Anticipate patron/client needs. A Partner phoned me and in a harried tone said that Big Client needed XYZ. I told the Partner that I already suspected as much and had begun work on XYZ. The now-relieved Partner asked what message should be relayed to Big Client. I replied, “Tell Big Client that the librarian is already on it!” Be aware of your professional environment and use your analytical skills to make prognostications. Even if you can’t act on something, have your knowledge and be ready to pounce.
- Never underestimate the power of a good reference conversation. I don’t necessarily like the term “reference interview.” What you really need to be having with your patrons are reference conversations. [There is a difference between those two words!] One example of this is that I know that the Associate asked me for Book A, but I really think he means Book B … despite his protestations that he wants Book A. By actively listening and asking just the right questions, I was able to determine his needs before he even knew what they were. Therefore, knowing that Book B was what he needed. A nicely worded email (as opposed to an “I told you so” tone) to make the distinction between the two books, along with images of the book covers, suddenly turns you into a clairvoyant. “You’re absolutely right,” the Associate called to tell me, “I do want Book B! Thanks!”
There were more than those two examples above which contributed to my day of professional satisfaction. I wanted to highlight these two aspects first because I felt that they were perhaps the most universal to all areas of librarianship or info pro work. More importantly, it’s examples like these that made me feel really good about my role at my firm and in my chosen profession.
I will post more examples periodically to demonstrate the empowering feeling of knowing when you have reached professional satisfaction. Own it. Be the expert.