How the FIT Team Affected My Life

Being PresentWhen I first heard about the FIT Team at Staff Day 2013, I was immediately interested.  It was a chance to be part of a really exciting, unique opportunity and to push myself out of my comfort zone.  Other big selling points were the ideas that the library would facilitate discussions in the community and create a model for other libraries.

I didn’t exactly know what it meant to learn facilitation skills.  I remember thinking it odd to spend so much time playing games or talking about and practicing how to take notes on a flip chart in our first training.  However all the little pieces soon started coming together to make sense as a whole.  Games could be designed to bring energy; to allow people to get to know each other in a memorable way; to get people thinking about new ways to communicate with one another; etc.  Flip chart notes provided a visual for all participants to see and reflect on during the meeting and were a record of what was discussed or brainstormed.  These pieces, along with other elements like ground rules and a meeting agenda, began to lay the foundation for how facilitation came together and made sense.

Two very big life changes happened while I was on the FIT Team.  The first was being promoted from part-time Library Specialist to full-time Librarian I to manage the Collection Processing department.  I feel that the facilitation tools and techniques I learned (as well as the public speaking skills I improved at Toastmasters) gave me that professional boost to be offered the position and the confidence to tackle the challenges of a new job and role.

Since we’re speaking of new roles, the second big change was becoming a mother.  Although this wasn’t tied directly to the FIT Team, motherhood definitely presented some ways to use my facilitation skills.  The Improv rules such as being present, supporting my partner, and allowing everything to be an offer were very useful.

It’s inspiring to think how much I’ve learned after 2 years on the FIT Team.  It’s exciting to think how much more I can learn and grow if I take on more facilitation opportunities.   I remember agonizing over the smallest elements of meeting design (e.g. whether to do the icebreaker before or after establishing ground rules) in the first pilot project.  After training and practice for 2 years, I could do more complex things like designing and facilitating an internal library meeting to get group consensus on a new software program.

It was incredible to part of this unique opportunity.  I’m very grateful to be chosen and given time away from my other duties to participate in the FIT Team.  I feel more connected to my work, to my FIT Team co-workers, and to my community.  I’m looking forward to honing my facilitation skills internally as a new manager and externally with community organizations.

Posted by Melanie Schultz, Facilitator-in-Training

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