Mastering People Skills in Archives

Margot Note

Margot Note

September 18, 2023

Archival work is more than just managing timelines, budgets, and resources. At its core, it involves effectively leading and collaborating with people to achieve success.

Interpersonal skills in archives are vital. Understanding and mastering them can lead to better outcomes and stronger team dynamics.

Communicating Intelligence

Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful archival management. Archivists convey information clearly and concisely to their teams and stakeholders. Open communication fosters trust, builds stronger relationships, and ensures everyone is on the same page. Embrace active listening to understand concerns, address issues, and provide support when needed. By prioritizing communication, archivists can eliminate misunderstandings, reduce conflicts, and keep their projects on track.

Emotional intelligence plays a significant role in project management. Being in tune with emotions and those of team members allows archivists to cultivate empathy and understanding. Archivists must be mindful of the feelings and needs of their team. Recognize that each team member may have unique challenges and motivations. Archivists can create a positive and empowering work environment that boosts team morale and productivity by showing empathy and offering support.

Influence and Leadership

In project management, the ability to influence and negotiate is invaluable. As archival projects involve various stakeholders with differing perspectives and priorities, skills in building consensus and resolving conflicts are crucial. Understanding others’ perspectives and effectively presenting ideas can unite parties and find win-win solutions. The art of negotiation allows archivists to navigate challenging situations and reach agreements that benefit everyone involved.

Effective leadership is pivotal within archives and helps guide teams toward success. Archivists can lead by example, demonstrating integrity and commitment to the project’s objectives. They can empower their team members to take ownership of their tasks, provide support, and foster a collaborative work environment. Strong leadership instills confidence and motivation, inspiring the archival team to perform at their best and surpass project expectations.

Team Building

A cohesive and collaborative team is the bedrock of successful project execution. Repositories can invest time in team-building activities that help their colleagues understand and appreciate one another’s strengths and work styles. Encourage communication, celebrate successes, and support each other during challenges. Building trust and camaraderie among team members enhances their collective performance and creates a positive project experience.

Problem Solving

Conflict is inevitable in any project, but how archivists manage it can make all the difference. Embrace conflict as an opportunity for growth and improvement. Addressing conflicts promptly and constructively encourages open dialogue and understanding. Seeking resolution prevents issues from escalating and fosters a harmonious work environment.

Practical problem-solving skills are essential for overcoming obstacles and keeping projects on track. Archivists encourage their team to approach challenges with creativity and innovation and foster a culture that values brainstorming and welcomes diverse perspectives. Embracing an initiative-taking approach to problem-solving addresses issues and collaborates with the archival team to find viable solutions.

Time management is vital to project success. Archivists prioritize tasks, set realistic deadlines, and allocate resources effectively. Encouraging the team to manage their time efficiently avoids distractions and stays focused on project objectives. Regularly review progress and adjust timelines when necessary to ensure timely delivery.

Power of People Skills

Archivists require strong people skills because their role extends beyond the confines of preserving historical documents and artifacts. While the technical aspects of cataloging, digitizing, and conserving materials are crucial, archivists also engage with a diverse range of individuals. They collaborate with researchers, historians, students, and the public who seek information or insights from archival collections. Effective communication and interpersonal abilities enable archivists to understand and address these users’ unique needs, guiding them toward relevant resources and facilitating their research journeys. Moreover, archivists often work within teams, necessitating effective teamwork, collaboration, and the ability to convey ideas and concerns. Building relationships with donors, institutions, and community members is equally important, as it fosters support for the archives and can lead to valuable donations or partnerships. In this way, people skills empower archivists to bridge the gap between historical materials and those who benefit from their preservation and accessibility.

People skills are vital for achieving archival project success and creating a positive work environment. Archivists can become more effective project managers by mastering communication, emotional intelligence, leadership, and problem-solving. By embracing the power of people skills, archivists empower their team to reach new heights of success and deliver outstanding project outcomes.

Margot Note

Margot Note

Margot Note, archivist, consultant, and Lucidea Press author is a regular blogger, and popular webinar presenter for Lucidea, provider of ArchivEra, archival collections management software for today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. Read more of Margot’s posts here.

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