Academic life is changing. Many of us are drowning in increasing work demands. Our ‘value’ is increasingly defined by competitive metrics. Academic career paths are often uncertain and precarious. What can we do, individually and collectively, to change academic life to be more sustainable, collaborative and effective? This podcast series offers long-form conversations with academics and thought leaders who share stories and insights, as well as bite-size ‘Related Work’ musings on specific topics drawing on literature and experience.
RW5 Finding the management sweet spot
I hadn’t thought before about the fact that under managing could be just as harmful if not more than micromanaging. Finding the sweet spot is my challenge moving forward. These reflections are triggered by an experience this last semester, where I realized in trying not to micro manage I hadn’t set up the team for success. The challenging part of this was learning to step back from pointing the finger at the ‘others’ and to ask how I was complicit in creating this situation as a manager and what I could learn from this to do differently next time.
Austen Rainer on changing cultures, leading people and values
Austen Rainer is a Professor at Queen’s University Belfast in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. His main focus area is team-based software innovation for societal, economic and environmental impact. Austen and I also co-facilitate an academic leadership development course. We talk about lots of different topics, from the motivation for his various moves from the UK to New Zealand to Northern Ireland, and negotiating various cultural differences, to his experiences being an academic leader, what he has learnt, including about having difficult conversations, and the strong values that underpin all his work. We also touch upon his COVID lockdown experiences, both in teaching his team-based module and how well that worked, and the personal challenges negotiating boundaries and staying well in working from home.
RW4 Rejection, tenure and so-called excellence
In this short related-work podcast, I share the stories of two people we’ll call Alex and Blake who are facing the challenge of meeting tenure criteria. From this I reflect on the personal, professional and societal impacts entailed in this push for so-called excellence. I then discuss two different papers that point in different ways to the need for institutional and cultural level response and present ideas for practical actions – for how we can address academic rejection and what it means to focus on soundness and capacity instead of excellence. As Moore et al state, excellence is not excellent and in fact is at odds with qualities of good research.
RW3 Notice, appreciate, thank - a good contagion!
In this short related work podcast, I talk about the importance of noticing people, showing appreciation and saying thanks. Small actions can have a big impact, for them and you. And it can be contagious - a good contagion!
RW2 From adapting to growing
In this bite-sized Related Work podcast, I reflect on how these stressful times can be a catalyst for growth and change, moving on from bouncing back (resilience) to bouncing forward. I connect to literature on resilience and post traumatic growth and theories around ‘tend and befriend’ to point to the choices we can make in how we interpret and respond to the current challenges.
RW1 My year of being bold
In this bitesize ‘Related Work’, the first of the new year of 2021, I suggest using a theme for the new year and also connecting with your superordinate goals, your why, and to explore learning goals.