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close this bookGuidelines for the Management of Professional Associations in the Fields of Archives, Library and Information Work (UNESCO)
close this folderAppendix II
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentDetermination of personnel needs
View the documentRecruitment and selection
View the documentOrientation
View the documentPerformance appraisal
View the documentCompensation
View the documentPromotion
View the documentTermination


Extract from: Library Association Management by Raymond A. Palmer, in collaboration with David Bender.

Seven fundamentals of good personnel practice.

Determination of personnel needs

Publishing, continuing education. and conferences and meetings are activities which many associations find cannot be carried out adequately by volunteer efforts alone. For example, assuming that an association has reached the size that it has an executive director and one of its chief objectives is continuing education, the chief executive officer and the board of directors need to work together to plan for the smooth operation of that program. Once the continuing education goals can no longer be achieved effectively and efficiently through volunteers. then that association goal must be translated into a position in the association's organizational chart. A proposed position on an organizational chart does not mean that a new staff member must be hired immediately. For example, the association could secure the service from an outside agency (one that provides services on a contractual basis to a professional organization) a college or university with a continuing education department, a library school, or a consulting firm.

Once the association has decided that the activity should be handled by staff, a position must be created in order for a goal to be met or a program to be run and a job description is developed. Each job description should contain the following elements: title of position, reporting relationships, overview of basic functions, duties and responsibilities, education. training, and experience requirements, and salary range.

Recruitment and selection

There are a number of ways to recruit staff: employment agencies, newspaper and professional journal classified advertisements, and referral from professional colleagues and staff are among the most common sources. Whenever possible, a single staff member should have primary responsibility for initial recruitment activities; in small associations, this task is usually handled by the executive director, while larger organizations may have a personnel expert on the staff. This ensures that basic personnel practices are followed. The prospective employee's supervisor and other staff should, of course, play an active role in the actual interview and selection process.

If the current staff is inexperienced in recruitment procedures, a reputable and professional employment agency should be used, even though there will be a cost attached to the service. If the individual responsible for hiring is well experienced in personnel recruitment and its management, the services of a personnel agency may not be needed.

Selection of staff must take into consideration the short and long term plans of the association. If the association is expected to grow end change dramatically over a short period of time, employees with quick growth potential and flexibility as the specific qualities required for the current job description should be hired.

The person responsible for hiring should interview all screened candidates and should ask questions which require extended answers and the analysis of hypothetical situations which the candidate is likely to encounter in the job situation. A good interviewer will get the candidate to talk. Likewise, a good candidate will use the interview as a means of finding out more about the potential supervisor and the organization.

It is helpful to have a number of staff members or a combination of staff and association members involved in interviewing individuals for key positions. Salaries, benefits, and opportunities for advancement should be discussed with the candidate in whom there is a strong interest. Governmental regulations should be heeded in the interviewing, hiring, and terminating of employees.


It is important to stress that the first several weeks in a new job are a critical period for a new staff member. During this time, the employee should receive a careful orientation to the position and the association. In large organizations, classroom lectures, movies or videotapes, or group conferences may be used. An experienced staff member may be assigned to provide an orientation, allowing plenty of time for an overview of the organization, a thorough introduction to office policies and procedures, and enough unassigned time to begin the actual work of the position.

Training of new staff members is usually an informal process. The new employee should be provided with as much information about the organization and the job as are available, such as the organization's handbook of personnel policies, policies and procedures manual, association publications, and minutes of meetings.

In the initial six months, the supervisor should set aside time for reviewing closely the staff member's work and for providing specific guidance. The initial supervisor/employee relationship is not unlike a one-to-one teacher-student relationship. In most instances, an individual with requisite skills for doing a particular job should be hired, with on-the-job training planned to refine skills and to teach new ones, not to teach basic skills.

Performance appraisal

A performance evaluation provides an opportunity for a supervisor to discuss a staff member's progress and possible avenues for improvement or change. A primary goal of appraisal of an individual's performance is motivation. It is also an opportunity for a staff member to discuss conditions and situations under which he or she performs best. Performance evaluation should be conducted regularly and at pre-planned intervals. However, problems which need addressing either from the supervisor's or from the employee's point of view should not be "saved up" until a planned performance evaluation is to take place. A continuing dialogue between supervisor and staff is a good way to promote a spirit of cooperation and a comfortable work environment. Generally speaking, what is discussed in a performance evaluation should be written and retained as part of the employee's personnel record.

Performance evaluation, in a larger sense, is a method used to focus on the accomplishment of goals and objectives. It is a measurement against a written job description and performance standard understood by the staff member and supervisor.


While there are intangibles more important than money, compensation in the form of salary and benefits is the universally recognized payment for services provided. For the association, salaries and benefits must be competitive with like professions or fields of endeavor. They must take into consideration geographic area. as well as differences in responsibilities. Differences in jobs are determined by analysis of the duties and responsibilities of the job itself, what is actually done, the interaction of the job with others, the difficulty of the job, and the consequences of error. Jobs are then classified in such a way as to rank them within an organization. Salary bears a direct relationship to the rank of the job, which, in turn, will directly relate to the goals and objectives of the position.

In addition to salaries, associations provide staff with fringe benefits such as vacation, sick leave, paid holidays, medical and dental insurance, disability insurance. and participation in retirement programs. Such "benefits" packages must be comparable to those offered by private industry or business and by the government at the national or more local level. Fringe benefits may vary considerably from geographic area to geographic area.

In order to attract top-flight chief executive officers. associations should offer multi-year contracts and negotiated perquisites which may include a different set of benefits from those received by other staff members. The board of directors or a special committee given the responsibility of recruiting a chief executive officer must keep in mind that association management is in itself a profession. and the salaries and benefits which associations offer must be comparable to what others in that field of endeavor receive. This compensation may be more or less than executives receive in the professions represented.


While promotion is frequently a way of recognizing outstanding performance. it also carries with it increased responsibility and authority. as well as a salary increase. In a large association with a significant number of departments and staff. promotions from within are commonplace. In the small association with few staff, promotions may be rare because there is rarely any way to enlarge the scope of responsibilities. In such instances. staff members must move to another organization where their range of talents may be used more effectively. This works to the disadvantage of the individual and ultimately to the disadvantage of the association. In small associations, it is wise to hire individuals who are multi-talented. When that is not possible, and the services of a specialist are required, the person responsible for hiring and the candidates themselves should clearly understand that the length of time a staff member may productively contribute to the organization and still mature professionally may be of limited duration.


Termination may be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary termination occurs when a staff member moves to another position, retires, or becomes disabled; or leaves because of dissatisfaction with the organization. If there are problems with any of the foregoing, corrective action must be taken. Otherwise, more employees will leave dissatisfied, and the success of the association will be limited by a disgruntled staff.

Involuntary termination requires a decision by the supervisor, department head. chief executive officer. or a combination of those individuals. depending-on the policy of the association. Firing staff members should occur only as the result of poor performance or inappropriate behavior. Acts of dishonesty or disloyalty in most instances should result in immediate dismissal with a precise statement of reason. both verbally and in writing. Dismissal for other reasons must not come as a surprise to the staff member. but should be based on clarification of the performance standards expected. followed by performance evaluation, continued failure on the part of the staff member to meet the requirements of the job description. repeated attempts on the part of the supervisor to assist the staff member in correcting deficiencies. and verbal and written warnings advising that dismissal may occur and clearly describing the reasons. In some instances. a staff member may be placed on probation. and provided a specific list of improvements in behavior or job performance made by a given date or termination of employment will take place.

All these steps should be carefully documented. and care must be taken to avoid the charge of unfair personnel practices. In addition, published personnel policies relating to termination benefits must be explicit. Guidelines in this area will vary from locale to locale and from country to country, and it is extremely important to be knowledgeable about rules and regulations in this important area.

In the management of association. as in all other endeavors which require the teamwork of a number of individuals working toward a common goal, nothing is more important then the careful selection of staff. One selected and hired, they must be made to feel a part of the organization and receive the fairest treatment and the best compensation the association can afford. In all dealings, staff must be shown consideration for their worth as individuals. Adhering to these tenets will pave the way for the success of the professional association.