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Career Pathways

Orange County Library System

Innovation Leader: Renae Bennett, Public Service Administrator, bennett.renae@ocls.info

Problem Statement

Who will be the future leaders in our organization? How do we address one of the outcomes of the financial times many businesses and local governments face in not being able to replace employees that leave? Looking to the future with a positive, yet practical mindset, we recognize that when vacancies do begin to develop, they will continue to be primarily internal and can likely involve opportunities for advancement in terms of taking on greater leadership roles, larger responsibility and perhaps higher salary grades. When those opportunities do emerge, we want to have employees who are ready, willing and able to take on the challenge.

Innovation

Training staff to take on leadership roles in our library organization addresses employees interests in assuming additional responsibility as well as cultivates successors for leadership positions. Career Pathways is a career development program designed to offer selected employees with ability to grow and develop their skills and experience, preparing them for assuming increased responsibility and possibly upward mobility into management. OCLS managers facilitate monthly workshops on a variety of topics designed to provide insight into supervisory issues, management and leadership. Recent topics include: Leadership Style, The Big Picture, Learning to Lead, Project Management, Human Resources, Ownership and Accountability, Initiative, Budgeting, Grants, and Customer Service. Participants are matched with a mentor selected from our assistant managers to provide coaching and perspective, guidance and support through the process. They are also assigned “purposeful projects” in order to have hands-on exposure to new experiences. Project involvement includes participation in grant writing, working with customer service surveys, an open source project, a Hispanic services initiative called Soy Culto and a web service matching those in need to the social service that is right for them called Right Service at the Right Time.

Progress

Eight staff members were accepted into the inaugural program and monthly meetings began in September 2011. Participants meet regularly with their mentors and are involved in their various projects. An upcoming leadership project for which they are especially excited is called Fast Forward. The participants will lead teams cultivated from staff system wide to discuss and provide ideas and solutions for what our library must be in the future. Most recently, one of the Career Pathways participants interviewed for and was accepted as a new assistant manager, giving real meaning to upward mobility.