Perhaps the most difficult task for a library supervisor or manager is dealing with employee behavioral problems in a respectful, legal, and timely fashion. Maybe it’s a new employee still in the probationary period that is not living up to their great resume and interview. Maybe the person is a good employee who has slipped into sloppy habits, such as arriving late and gossiping at service desks.


Maybe the problem behaviors are difficult to pin down, such as a tone of voice or nonverbal behaviors in a meeting. Or maybe a longtime employee’s bad behaviors were disregarded by a series of previous supervisors and can no longer be ignored.

The good news is that there are time-tested systems for anticipating problems, keeping employees on track, and handling difficult conversations. Documentation, precise communication, and setting agreements with deadlines and consequences are key to successful outcomes, including, if necessary, a parting of ways.


Learn how to reduce the drama for both employees and supervisors and address specific issues before they become serious.



  • Hire for emotional maturity and the right skill sets.
  • Ensure workplace and individual job expectations are communicated and understood.
  • Make feedback concrete and specific.
  • Plan and practice for employee meetings to ensure feedback is unambiguous, with deadlines and consequences.
  • Focus on the future instead of on past mistakes.


Up or Out: Smarter Ways to Get Library Employees Back on Track