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ExFiles Quiz: Management Scenarios - "Handling Challenging Situations"


Scenario 1: Noise and Nuisance

You have been at a meeting all morning and return to find the following email from your deputy who is responsible for supervising the library and it’s staff:


Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2007 13:25

From: Dan Deputy

To: The Boss

Subject: Problem Users



Just wanted to draw your attention to a group of users who have been using the library regularly over the past few weeks. This group have told us that they are working on a project and need to use the library resources for this purpose.


The problem is this group are very noisy and are causing disruption to other users. Both Lisa and Lucy have asked them to be quiet on countless occasions. Yesterday, after the third time of telling them, Lucy came to see me to say that they were ignoring her requests and just continuing with their behaviour and could I intervene. I told the group that they had had adequate warning and that they now must leave the library. They returned this morning and again were very noisy but left of their own accord.


I’m just wondering if this continues to be a problem, is there any further action we could take? I believe the group are students from the medical school.


I’d be happy to meet with you sometime this week if you need more details, or perhaps we could discuss at Wednesday’s staff meeting?





Question: What action do you now take?


Scenario 2: Dressed to Un-impress

Three months ago, a “suggestions box” was placed in the library to encourage user feedback. The box is emptied every month, when one of the assistant librarians collates the comments and sends them to you. One of this month’s comments (from an anonymous user) reads as following:


“The library staff should be smarter. I find they wear casual clothes and it is confusing for me as sometimes I do not know who is working in the library and who is not.”


Question: Do you take any further action? If so, what action do you take?



Scenario 3: How did we do?

The library recently conducted a user survey (a link to a web-based questionnaire was emailed to all users and paper copies of the questionnaire were handed out at the enquiry desk). The results have been collated and sent to you to review. No analysis of the results has been undertaken, you simply have a list of how many people have ticked each box and a list of any additional comments.


Question: What action do you take next?


Scenario 4: Not a Job

One of the assistant librarians asks to meet with you about a personal matter. The library has recently been undergoing the recruitment for maternity cover for one of the Senior Library Assistant posts. In your meeting with the assistant librarian it is revealed that they have a friend who applied for the post but has not been short-listed. The assistant librarian has already met with their line manager (who led the short-listing process) but they refused to discuss the issue.


Question: What action do you now take?


Scenario 5: Trouble in the Ranks

Your department has recently held a staff away day. You were not involved in the planning of the day, this was delegated to your deputy, but you did attend the day. In the following week’s staff meeting (your deputy is on annual leave so is not present), it is brought up that the library staff have reservations about how successful the day was – particularly the suitably of the venue and whether the staff got anything out of the day. You are aware that your deputy planned the day alone and did not request any input from the rest of the team.


Question: What action do you take, both immediately at the meeting and following the meeting?


Scenario 6: “Working” from Home

Six months ago, at your deputy’s suggestion, you revised the department’s working from home policy. This was due to the deputy’s suspicion that one member of staff was not completing a day’s worth of work whenever they worked from home. The new policy states that all staff must state what work they intend to complete when they request to work from home and they must fill in timesheets to account for their day. Your deputy has been monitoring this over the past six months and still has suspicions over this member of staff. Every fortnight you have a catch-up meeting with your deputy and they have brought this issue up at one of these meetings.


Question: What action do you take, both immediately at the meeting and following the meeting?


Scenario 7: Be Aware

The library is in the process of planning a library awareness week. Your deputy is planning the timetable and has sent an email round the team to ask for volunteers for the activities. In previous years, you have been involved but have found that this takes up a lot of your time. You wonder whether you should join in this time or whether you should take a more “hands off” approach.


Question: What action do you take?


Scenario 8: Maximum Security

There have been a number of thefts from offices in your organisation recently. It is suspected that people are walking in off the street due to the open access nature of the departments and preying on unlocked offices whose owners are not around. You wonder whether there is anything you can do to improve security both in your department and the wider organisation as a whole.


Question: What action do you take?


Scenario 9: Low Tech

It has been raised at a team meeting that several members of the team are unhappy with the service the organisation’s IT department is (or isn’t!) providing. You ask your staff to fill you in on the details, most of which revolve round delays in response time/problem solving.


Question: What action do you take?


Scenario 10: Burning Bridges

A member of staff has recently left your department. As is customary within your organisation, an exit interview was conducted and subsequently transcribed. The transcript has been sent to you and it has revealed certain issues that had disgruntled the member of staff. They cite conflict with another member of staff and lack of support from their line manager as factors in their decision to leave.


Question: Do you take any further action? If so, what action do you take?

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