Listening is an Important Leadership Skill

Welcome to the Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter from Northern States Conservation Center. The newsletter is designed to bring you timely and helpful content that is pertinent to situations we all encounter in our museum and archives work. Feel free to let us know what topics you would like to see featured in Collections Caretaker or even contribute an article.

In This Issue

Why Listening Might Be the Most Important Skill a Leader Has 
Instructor Spotlight
Featured Course
June 2017 Online Courses
July 2017 Online Courses
August 2017 Online Courses
Conferences and Meetings
Why Listening Might Be the Most Important Skill a Leader Has
Joan Baldwin
 
The other day a colleague sent me an email. It contained a photograph of a group of blue ribbons on a table. Each ribbon said, "I Survived Another Meeting that Should Have Been an Email." I suspect my colleague and I are not the only people who see meeting announcements on Google calendar and are gripped with dread. Why? Because too often they're not actual meetings but opportunities to pontificate. People prattle on, they dominate, they wander down intellectual rat holes dazzled at their own verbal skills while the rest of the group languishes, twitches, or gazes out the window. Why? Because no one is listening, they're waiting to speak and there is a difference.
 
One of the leaders we interviewed for Leadership Matters told us a story. She was new to the field and new to her job as the director of an active historical organization. After a board meeting, a trustee pulled her aside. His advice? Shut up. Just listen. Really listen. Too many leaders, directors and department heads think the appearance of listening passes for the act itself. But it doesn't and even someone with lame facial recognition skills can recognize attention versus inattention. Being on the receiving end of an inattentive colleague makes some people angry. They would rather skip the interaction and send an email. At least then there is a record of what they said. Inattention leaves others feeling erased as if what they have to offer doesn't really matter. Real listening means your thoughts actually respond to mine. You say things like picking up on what Joan just said, I believe......We build something as we toss ideas back and forth. We engage. We acknowledge each other's skills.
 
Why does all this matter if you're a leader as opposed to being a member of a department or staff? Well, skilled leadership inspires trust. Trust is earned any number of ways, but one way is by making an employee, a team member or a direct report feel valued. People who are never heard don't feel valued. They feel dissed. They feel their time is wasted.
 
Today, in the age of distraction, there are very few of us who aren't guilty of poor listening. Bad enough that our egos and our thoughts can distract us so magnificently. Now we have email, Snapchat, Googlechat, Twitter and so much more.  So the next time you enter a room ready to lead a meeting for a group of overworked, overtired employees, try this: Ask everyone to turn off all their phones and close their laptops. Have them put both feet on the floor, hands on the table, and close their eyes. Wait 30 seconds. Then ask them to open their eyes. Start by asking the person on your left to "check-in," meaning one or two sentences about how they are. (Another variation of this is Outward Bound's check-in which involves telling the group one good thing or one bad thing about the day.) Both these activities require a slowing down, a focus on colleagues, and on who they are as people, not just their to-do lists. If your staff is given to too much information in check-ins, try asking everyone to close their eyes again. Ask them to start to repeat the alphabet, one person to each letter. If two people speak at the same time, the group needs to begin again. If the group really listens, they ought to be able to reach M or N.
 
Have fun. Let's dedicate the next week to listening attentively and see what happens.
 
Reprinted with permission from Leadership Matters  Posted:   March 11, 2015
Thoughts on 21st Century museum leadership by Anne Ackerson and Joan Baldwin
For more information on Leadership please check out other articles from this Blog.

Instructor Spotlight:
Fiona Graham 

Fiona Graham is an accredited professional conservator (CAPC) offering bilingual (English & French) services in preventive conservation and heritage restoration to the museum and heritage field. Her areas of expertise include; preventive conservation in facility design and operations, specifications and project management for conservation projects, metals conservation, pest management, condition surveys, emergency planning, and policies and procedures. She is currently a Conservator at Goldsmith Borgal & Company Ltd. Architects, a Tutor at Athabasca University and the Course Director for the Ontario Museum Association.
 

Fiona Graham teaches our MS223: Care of Metals and MS219 Opening and Closing Seasonal Museums courses.  If you operate or work in a Seasonal Museum, join Fiona for Opening and Closing Seasonal Museums starting September 4, 2017 to learn about how the seasonal closure of a museum presents unique challenges and opportunities for collection preservation.   
Early Bird Discounts Available for Full Length Courses
 
An Early Bird Discount is available for anyone who signs up for a full length course from museumclasses.org 30 days prior to the start of that course.  
 
Sign up for a full length course up to 30 days prior to its start and save $100.00!
 
For our course list or to sign up: http://www.collectioncare.org/course-list  
 
To take advantage of this discount, you must enter coupon code EARLYBIRD at checkout at collectioncare.org

The Early Bird Discount deadline for August courses is July 8, 2017 
Featured Course: Museum Ethics

This course will examine the role of ethics in museums and related institutions.
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Topics addressed will include the differences in ethics, laws, and morals; what ethics are and where they come from; the ethical codes that museum professionals follow; how ethics affect professional practices; why ethics are important; and how ethical standards can help museums and related institutions better serve society. Participants in the course will gain an understanding of the importance of ethics in professional museum practice, how codes of ethics are written and why they are important, and will develop an understanding of the most significant codes of ethics subscribed to by museum professionals.

Join Peggy Schaller
for this interesting and very informative course  MS267 Museum Ethics beginning July 3, 2017.
June 2017 Courses
 
June 19 to August 4, 2017
Instructor:  Gawain Weaver
Description:
Photographic materials cover a diverse range, everything from the daguerreotypes and wet plate negatives of the 19th century to the gelatin silver, chromogenic and inkjet prints of the 20th and now 21st century. Care of Photographs offers a broad introduction to the history, technology, identification, and care of these and other photographic materials. Topics include environmental monitoring, the effects of temperature and relative humidity, and the importance of cold storage for certain photographic materials. It is intended to help those caring for photographic materials to gain a better understanding of their collections and how to care for them.
July 2017 Courses
 
July 3 to August 25, 2017
Instructor: Terri Schindel
Description:
Every museum needs to be prepared for fires, floods, chemical spills, tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters. But surveys show 80 percent lack trained staff, emergency-preparedness plans for their collections, or both. Disaster Plan Research and Writing begins with the creation of disaster-preparedness teams, the importance of ongoing planning, employee safety, board participation and insurance. Participants will learn everything they need to draft their own disaster-preparedness plans. They also will be required to incorporate colleagues in team-building exercises. A written disaster-preparedness plan is not only a good idea, it's also a requirement for accreditation. In the second half of the course, instructor Terri Schindel reviews and provides input as participants write plans that outline the procedures to follow in various emergencies. The completed plan prepares museums physically and mentally to handle emergencies that can harm vulnerable and irreplaceable collections. You will have a completed institutional disaster-preparedness and response plan at the end of the course. Once completed with this course, we recommend the Disaster Preparation and Recovery course taught by Helen Alten to provide more information about staff organization and management during and after a disaster.
 
July 3 to 31, 2017
Instructor:  Peggy Schaller
Description:
Cataloging may not be the most exciting museum task, but it is among the most important. Without a clear knowledge of your holdings, you can't protect, care for, research or exhibit them. Without knowledge of an item's history, you can't properly appreciate its value to your museum. Cataloging Your Collection covers all details needed to catalog a collection. Procedures for handling, measuring and describing all types of objects and materials are discussed in detail. Participants receive sample forms and learn the best practices for numbering artifacts, performing inventory and assessing the condition of objects. Participants practice describing everyday objects and cataloging items from their own collections or households.
 
July 3 to August 11, 2017
Instructor:  Stefani Pendergast (for Christina Cain)
Description:
The only thing worse than mice or cockroaches in your kitchen, is finding them in your museum collection. Participants in Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives learn low-toxicity methods of controlling infestations. IPM is the standard method for treating incoming items and monitoring holdings. Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives discusses how infestations occur, helps identify risks, provides feasible mitigation strategies, discusses the different techniques of treating infested materials, and helps you complete an IPM plan and monitoring schedule for your institution. The course covers pest identification, insects, rodent, birds, bats, other mammals and mold infestations, as well as other problems raised by participants.
 
MS 235: Scripting the Exhibition: Labels and Interpretive Panels
July 3 to 31, 2017
Instructor: Karin Hostetter
Description:
So much to say and so little space in which to say it. That is the dilemma when scripting an exhibition. How do you say what needs to be said in the space available? How do you even figure out how to limit the information in the first place? Discover the value of themes, tangibles, intangibles, and universals in writing exhibit text that visitors really want to read -- and remember. Additional resources provided on font size and colors as well as label layout.
 
July 3 to 31, 2017
Instructor:  Peggy Schaller
Description:
This course will examine the role of ethics in museums and related institutions. Topics addressed will include the differences in ethics, laws, and morals; what ethics are and where they come from; the ethical codes that museum professionals follow; how ethics affect professional practices; why ethics are important; and how ethical standards can help museums and related institutions better serve society. Participants in the course will gain an understanding of the importance of ethics in professional museum practice, how codes of ethics are written and why they are important, and will develop an understanding of the most significant codes of ethics subscribed to by museum professionals.
August 2017 Courses
 
August 7 to September 1, 2017
Instructor: Tom Bennett
Description:
Matting and Framing teaches the materials and techniques of conservation-quality framing. For display, matting and framing provides both protective and aesthetic contributions to art on paper. Students will learn about different types of enclosures, different mat styles and cutting methods, the pros and cons of different backing boards and glazing, and different methods of attaching items to a mat, some of which do not involve adhering hinges to art on paper. Lectures, illustrations, product resources, and additional informational references will be provided.
 
August 7 to September 1, 2017
Instructor: Karin Hostetter
Description:
The world of museum education is as varied as the imagination. From school field trips to online blogs, from 2-year-olds to senior citizens, and from formal programs to volunteering, it is all part of the educational delivery system of a museum. In Education in Museums, survey the education programs offered at your site. Determine what exhibits and collections need better representation through education. Develop a long term plan of education program development for your site that you can use to improve services to your community.
 
August 7 to September 1, 2017
Instructor:  Karin Hostetter
Description:
Have you done some evaluation but did not get helpful information? Do you wish you could do evaluations, but think it is too hard or too expensive? Do you wonder how to get people to use an offered program more? Evaluations are feasible and easy. This course will help you determine what you really want to know, choose the right process to gather the information, develop meaningful questions, and figure out what the results tell you. Please have a program or text in mind (real or imagined) to work with during the course. Note: this course will not be looking at statistical analysis.
 
August 7 to September 15, 2017
Instructor:  Helen Alten
Description:
A good mannequin makes an exhibit look professional. Unfortunately, most museum staff do not know how to make a costume look good on a mannequin. The result is that costumes look flat, provide incorrect information or are being damaged. Buying an expensive "museum quality mannequin" is not the solution - garments rarely fit without alterations to the mannequin. Learn how to measure garments and transfer that information to construct a new form or alter an old form so that it accurately fits the garment, creating an accurate and safe display. Learn about the materials that will and won't damage the textile. Making Museum Quality Mannequins provides an overview of all of the materials used to construct mannequins in today's museums. Learn inexpensive mannequin solutions and how different materials may use the same additive or subtractive construction technique. Fabrication methods for many mannequin styles are described. Finishing touches - casting and molding, hair, arms, legs, stands and base, undergarments - are discussed with examples of how they change the presentation of a garment
Conferences and Meetings
 
2017  
Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Denver, CO 
June 18-24, 2017

Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, Eugene, OR
June 22-26, 2017
 

Society of American Archivists, 2017 Annual Meeting, Portland, OR  
July 23-29, 2017  

American Association for State and Local History, Austin, TX
September 6-9, 2017

Southeastern Museums Conference, 2017 Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA 
September 11-13, 2017  
 

International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection, New Haven, CT
September 17-20, 2017

Western Museums Association, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
September 20-23, 2017
   
 
New England Museum Association, 2017 Annual Conference, North Falmouth, MA
October 25-27, 2017
 
National Association for Interpretation, Spokane, Washington
November 14-18, 2017

2018
Society of American Archivists, 2018 Annual Meeting, Washington, DC
August 12-18, 2018

Western Museums Association, Tacoma, WA
Dates TBA 
 
Southeastern Museums Conference, 2018 Annual Meeting, Jackson, MS
October 8-10, 2018
 
National Association for Interpretation
Dates and location TBD
November 2018
 
2019  
National Association for Interpretation, Denver, Colorado
November 12-16, 2019


Submissions and Comments
How to submit an article or upcoming workshops for inclusion in the Newsletter:  
If you would like to submit an article, notice of an organizational meeting or upcoming workshop for an upcoming Collections Caretaker Newsletter, send your submission to peggy@collectioncare.org .  
 
We are always looking for contributions to this newsletter. Submission deadline is the 10th of each month. 
 
Have a comment or suggestion?   
 
Northern States Conservation Center (NSCC) provides training, collection care, preservation and conservation treatment services. NSCC offers online museum studies classes at   museumclasses.org in Collections Management & Care, Museum Administration & Management, Exhibit Practices and Museum Facilities Management.
 
Sincerely,
Helen Alten, Director
Peggy Schaller, Publications Manager