Sunday, 21 February 2016

Micro managing is

not the way to go. Please!
I belong to a group which is a mix of teaching and social activity. The teaching is done on a largely informal basis. It involves a craft, the craft of knitting. It involves art, the art of knitting. Yes, knitting is both craft and art. 
For many of the people who belong to the group knitting is a craft. They follow other people's patterns, often to the letter. They often produce lovely, useful garments and objects. One woman knits nothing but soft toys. They are exquisitely made and undoubtedly much loved by the sick children who get them. Another knits nothing but "beanies", those woolly hats often finished with tassels or bobbles. A lot of those go to homeless men. 
Some people knit just for their families or themselves. They often aren't confident that their work is "good enough" to give away.
We have some beginners, people who are still struggling to learn the knit and the purl stitch and to follow a pattern. 
And we have just a few who experiment, who spin and dye their own yarn, and design their own from start to finish. 
And, as librarian for the group, I try to make sure that all these people are catered for.
We have a new person as president. She was a teacher. She is used to handling those in their adolescence. Her own work is of the "follow the pattern" variety. She goes as far to weigh her yarn out to make sure that there will be enough. Recently she knitted a series of small items - all the same pattern. They all used six different yarns. She made them from left overs. I admire her for doing it but I know I should have been wary when she showed me that she had weighed, measured and labelled each piece of yarn before she started. The pattern simply did not require that. Anything could have been added anywhere and the result would have been the same, perhaps even better.  But - she needs to know that "there will be enough".
And her attention to detail extends to running the group. She means well and she knows that her style is starting to cause real problems. People who have belonged to the group for years, who are used to being trusted to do things when asked, are getting irritated when she stands there and wants to know exactly how something is going to be done - what the plans are.
      "I know," she says, "It's just me but I need to know. I can't work any other way."
I think she does know too but she can't stop herself. It might have been fine for teaching adolescents - although I suspect it stifled them too - but it doesn't work when organising activities for adults. We always have a problem finding enough volunteers and now less people are volunteering.
Yesterday I tried to finish the long task of reorganising the library. I
asked for some volunteers to do some simple tasks. I saw people looking at each other and then several people indicated their willingness to help or go on helping.
I had one woman who is very hesitant to offer help come over to the table where some card envelopes needed to be pasted into the back of books. I told her what we were doing and why - briefly - and said,
      "And H has been doing it so I am sure if you have any questions she can help."
I left them to it. I left other people to their jobs. I went and did mine.
A little later the President came into the tiny cupboard like area we use as a library and asked me,
       "Are they all right out there? Aren't you going to check on what they are doing?"
No. I wasn't. I was going to trust that, as grown ups who had volunteered, they could do the job. They knew where I was. They knew they could come and ask me if they had a query.
And then she said,
      "I don't know how you get people to volunteer so easily."

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