Story 07: Managing the Organization

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Personnel Policy

Written by Elaine Heumann Gurian

We thought everyone should grow in their jobs, seek and receive new and challenging work, and advocate for themselves. We actively preferred internal promotion over outside hire. Once a year, directors interviewed everyone in their charge and, together with other managers, created new job descriptions that accommodated growth—though this growth was not often enough reflected in additional compensation.

We fired people immediately for egregious behavior—theft, abuse, violence—although this happened rarely. We had a process of supervision for less than acceptable work that could result in staff departure. We also had an appeals system to allow staff members in question to air their grievances.

We counseled people to leave when they seemed to have used up their interests and were flagging in enthusiasm. We thought it was okay to get tired of your job and come to the end of it. We had a number of jobs that were considered time-limited and we told the prospective employees that before they began. We did not allow floor staff to stay more than six months unless they were promoted into other jobs in the museum. Each year we had a graduation ceremony for about fifteen to thirty Visitor Services staff who often went on to important positions in other museums. Before they graduated, we trained them in resume writing. They knew they could always come back to us for recommendations. We helped people get new jobs elsewhere when they wished to try new experiences or had to move. Many of our former staff became the foundations of other organizations. We gloried in the advance of former colleagues. Many children's museum directors and senior staff at other museums got their start in our entry-level Visitor Services department.

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