Experience at AALL’s Course: “Managing Your Work Environment”

by Janet Peros, Senior Research Analyst, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Editor’s Note: We are happy to post two takes on a recent course on “Managing Your Work Environment” offered by the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), and facilitated by Judith Millesen, Ph.D.  Both authors were recipients of grants from the Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals (PLLIP) section of AALL.  Thank you to Connie and Janet for taking the time to share their thoughts on their experiences and takeaways from the course.

In September, AALL offered a four week online course, Managing Your Work Environment. I was able to attend this rewarding program facilitated by Judith Millesen, PhD, Director of Strategic Planning, Fundraising, and Capacity Building, Association Options, thanks to a generous PLLIP grant.

The course format included pre-course work, three asynchronous weeks, and the fourth and final week had a live session for everyone to gather and share their insights and feedback.  We utilized Google Classroom for the most part, and watched videos from both Dr. Millesen and others (TED talks, etc.), took surveys to evaluate our work style, and submitted an assignment each week.  One of the assignments was to record yourself giving a brief talk to recent graduates as they embark upon the world of work.  Initially, this assignment gave me the jitters, but after it was done, I was hoping for more opportunities to do something just like it!  As Dr. Millesen mentioned, sharing ideas in a written format is great, but a large part of managing your work and communicating with your team involves effective oral communication at meetings in a group, and in one-on-one scenarios.  The final week where we all met together to discuss our experience throughout the course was great and distinguished this from other AALL asynchronous courses.

The course was somewhat targeted towards managers, but was helpful for anyone looking to increase their leadership skills and self-awareness.  Topics covered included cultivating a growth mindset, developing a reflective practice, working in teams, presenting your ideas, conflict management, fostering inclusivity and how to offer peer feedback.

Although familiar with several of the topics covered, reflective practice was new to me.  This is a tool to help build your own emotional intelligence and allow you to see the bigger picture, and to assist with preparing you for future experiences that may be similar. The steps involved in a reflection are: describing the experience, reflecting on the experience, theorizing and experimentation.  Here is a link if you would like to read more about it.

Another rewarding aspect of the course was that although every topic we covered was to better our work life, most, if not all of the content can also be applicable to our personal lives.  These topics include developing a growth mindset, being a good team member, handling conflict diplomatically and effectively, providing feedback in a respectful and inclusive manner, plus general relationship skills that can help with your supervisor, team mates, direct reports as well as children, spouses, friends and partners and others in our personal social circle.  To me, this was the greatest take-away of the course, and I enjoyed working with Dr. Millesen, who was an inspiring instructor.

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