Thursday, February 7, 2013

Notes from New Chair Alliance Workshop

As I noted in a previous post, this week I am attending the 30th Annual Academic Chairpersons Conference. Today I attended a full-day pre-conference workshop for new academic chairs called the New Chair Alliance. It is a workshop designed to provide new academic chairs with ideas and strategies for completing their work as academic administrators.

In this post, I will share some of my notes from this workshop. It will really be just a list of some of my thoughts, notes and observations as I worked through the workshop.
New Chair Alliance Workshop
New Chair Alliance Workshop
On Managing a Difficult Workload
One of the themes that continued to come up during the workshop was the issue of an overwhelming workload. I have noticed that my work has increased exponentially as the program chair, and I feel like I am constantly working just to keep up with what is going on. Here are some ideas on how to manage this workload effectively.
  • Categorize your tasks into the following categories: important/not important, and urgent/not urgent. This will help you focus on what is important.
  • If you can delegate a task to someone else, then do it.
  • If you can, automate some tasks by having someone else or technology do it.
  • Check emails only periodically (2-3 times a day) so that you can focus your time on the projects at hand.
  • Minimize interruptions. Block out time on your calendar to keep time for yourself. Screen people from interrupting you (close your door, have a secretary screen you, etc.)
  • Use the 4D principles to handle tasks - do, delegate, defer, delete.
  • Do the most important tasks and let the less-important fall to the wayside.
On Finding Balance
Another theme that came up was finding balance in your life. This includes professional balance as well as personal and family balance. I find it difficult to balance my teaching, course design, and interactions with students and faculty so that I can spend time on my research and writing agenda. I also have a hard time making sure I can spend time with my beautiful girls at home.

Personal health is the most important thing a chair can prioritize. Without health, the ability to succeed as chair is ruined, so taking care of physical, mental, and spiritual health is vital. I've found that I have to go to the gym in the morning before work if I want to have a healthy day, so I make that daily workout a priority.

Strategic Planning
The workshop facilitators also discussed the importance of creating a strategic plan for each department or program. I have dome some of this for the IDPT program but feel like a more robust strategic plan for the program, including participation from all major stakeholders, could be a powerful way to move the program forward. I plan to begin this initiative sometime in early summer.

Random Quotes In the Workshop (some are rather humorous)
  • "If someone can do it 80% as well as you can, have them do it."
  • "If you see a turtle sitting on a fence-post, you can be pretty sure it didn't get there by itself."
  • "If you're not comfortable with multi-tasking, don't become an administrator."
  • "All I do is shoot the closest wolf."
  • "don't let other peoples' problems become your problems."
  • "If you can't live with the conclusions someone has come to, seek a second opinion."
  • "I don't want to shuffle the deck chairs of the Titanic if I know it is going to sink."
  • "The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives." (Sioux Proverb)
There was certainly a great deal more discussed, but I think these were the highlights for me. I have generated a lot of notes on how I can begin to use what I have learned and I am excited to see how I can keep things moving forward for the IDPT program.


thegardnerthree said...

This stuff is good to think about and use in any "leadership" position. I love some of those quotes. Thanks for sharing. p.s. the carpet is awful! :)

joel gardner said...

Thanks, gardnerthree! These lessons are definitely applicable in many arenas. And yes, the carpet is quite bad in a cool 1995 sort of way.